The Fulbright Program: Excellence. Celebration of the 60 years of Fulbright in Poland.

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“The first word that comes to mind when I hear Fulbright is excellence,” proclaimed Georgette Mosbacher, Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Poland, during the jubilee evening, which took place on March 7 in Warsaw’s Novotel.

Guests who participated in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Poland, which was also an inauguration of Direct to Internationalization: How to attract American students to Polish Universities conference, organized together with Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange, included Georgette Mosbacher, Ambassador of the U.S. to Poland, Sebastian Skuza, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education, Prof. Juanita Villena-Alvarez from the University of South Carolina, Beaufort, Prof. Marek Konarzewski from Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange, and Dr. Grażyna Żebrowska, a representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C.

Madam Ambassador emphasized the uniqueness of the Fulbright Program and the role of its alumni as future world leaders. She also indicated that Poland is one of the countries with the largest number of grantees, and one of Europe’s leading donors to the Program. “The United States is really lucky to have Poland as one if its strongest and most committed Fulbright partners,” she added. An official reading of the congratulatory letter from Michael Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, followed Mosbacher’s speech. Pompeo described the Program as a bridge, which connects Poland and the United States, and which has allowed to tighten international relations. He also highlighted the role of the Program in building mutual trust during the transition period in Poland. Sebastian Skuza, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education congratulated the long-standing Polish-American cooperation, wishing the Fulbright Commission further success. Prof. Juanita Villena-Alvarez, whose energizing lecture pinpointed the educational part of the evening, intrigued the audience by suggesting how the attractiveness of Polish universities, culture and society can be used to promote the Program in the United States and secure an even larger number of American grantees.

The official part of the evening concluded with a reception and an entertaining concert of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band (USAFE) who, as promised, inspired the audience to dance. The repertoire of this 15-person orchestra under the commander and conductor Lieutenant Colonel Cristina Moore Urrutia mesmerized the Warsaw audience with the sounds of American cultural heritage. As musical ambassadors, USAFE promotes American mission of international cooperation and mutual trust, using the international language of music. During the hour-long concert, the band invited the audience to embark on a journey through the classics of American concert and jazz music, bringing to mind George Gershwin’s Broadway stage, John Williams’ hollywood screen, and Philip Sousa’s patriotic marches. The participants could also listen to a rendition of “You are my sunshine,” originally written and composed by Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell in 1939, and performed by musical legends, such as Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash, and Aretha Franklin. As one of the band members reminded the gathered crowd, the song is also designated as one of Louisiana’s State Songs.

During the reception, which concluded the 60th anniversary evening, guests had a chance to engage in face-to-face interactions, materializing Senator J. William Fulbright’s immortal thought of the role of everyday relations in building international cooperation – a thought, which has accompanied the Fulbright Program for many decades.

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