In 2007, the US Congress approved legislation introduced by Sen. Richard Lugar to establish a youth leadership and exchange program for high school students in the United States and Poland. Funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State, the newly created United States – Poland Parliamentary Youth Exchange Program constitutes a four-week exchange experience in which Polish and US adolescents live in one another’s host communities, shadow community leaders, and learn about the history, culture, and governmental structures of one another’s countries. Program objectives include developing in Polish and American youth a sense of civic responsibility and a commitment to international understanding and nurturing a cadre of youth leaders who will share their knowledge and skills with their peers through positive action.
One of the program partners, the Kosciuszko Foundation, selected Dr. Teresa G. Wojcik, a faculty member in the Department of Education and Counseling, to organize and conduct the exchange program’s culminating Community Service Workshop in Krakow, Poland. A former Fulbright recipient for research in Poland, Dr. Wojcik specializes in curriculum and instruction in civics education.
For four days this past July, Dr. Wojcik guided the 30 Polish and American student participants of the US-Poland Parliamentary Youth Leadership Program in reflecting on their intercultural experiences. She also conducted workshop sessions on the rights and responsibilities of citizens in democratic societies, the role of civil society in a democracy, and the attributes of effective leadership. The American students hailed from the cities of Des Moines and Kalona, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. The Polish participants represented the cities of Łódź, Gdańsk, and Nowy Sącz.