March 2009

A randomly found and fascinating video from the U.S. Embassy here in 1939, explains the author, “after the German invasion of Poland… securing the building and gathering around the bomb shelter.

I learned just this week that an exhibit put together by the International Organization for Migration with support from the U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration is available in electronic format at

Click here for the original story behind this exhibit and for more information on the State Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking.

On Saturday, March 22nd, I got to accompany David Silver to Poznan for a talk at the new campus of Adam Mickiewicz University in the north of Poznan, where he talked to students about making media, sharing media, and collaborating on media.  He urged the students to engage with media and participate in the knowledge-making process, rather than treating it as received information.

Students at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan

Students at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan

After the talk, David had a short interview with campus tv, and we enjoyed a tour of the building with our host, Prof. Wojciech Nowiak.

Thanks to Prof. Nowiak, Adam Mickiewicz University, and especially to the students for an enjoyable Saturday in Poznan — it was great to meet you!

The second day of our New Media Forum was packed with guests and questions.  Joe Rospars and David Silver opened the day with a discussion on new media in the U.S. and how it’s changing American democracy.  We had a lively discussion.  I’d also like to remind people of the resources on the site I mentioned during Q&A – the resources pulled together during the Alliance of Youth Movements summit.


Joe Rospars and David Silver take questions about civic activism in the U.S.

Joe Rospars and David Silver take questions about civic activism in the U.S.

This panel was followed by an engaging discussion with experts on the media scene in Poland today.  Tomas Pludowski of Collegium Civitas discussed broad trends in media, Dr. Krzystof Krejtz and Dr. Jaroslaw Milewski from the Higher School of Social Psychology offered insights from their research on Polish internet usage, and Gregorz Piechota from Gazeta Wyborcza talked about “news as a conversation” and some very innovative reporting ideas, particularly in the context of the “Save the Rospuda!” series.  I’m having some technical difficulties uploading photos from our government computers, but I hope to have some photos to show you soon.

Finally, a panel of Polish youth activists discussed their experiences using new media.


For more information on the projects these guys are involved in, you can visit their web pages:

Polska Mlodych

– Cafe Babel (Polish version)

Projekt Polska

Solidarni z Bialorusia
We closed the day with the video and photo awards ceremony.  The Embassy is grateful to Mr. Andrzej Wajda and Ms. Alicja Pacewicz of the Center for Citizenship Education for their participation in the ceremony and their inspiring speeches.

There are more pictures and content on guest David Silver’s blog and on the Gazeta Wyborcza blog, live from the conference.


On Thursday, March 19, at 4:00 pm, we official welcomed guests to our New Media/New Democracy Forum at Centrum Artystyczne Fabryka Trzciny.


Deputy Chief of Mission Pamela Quanrud opened the Forum and officially welcomed visitors to view our exhibits of the Democracy Video Challenge entries from Poland, the Democracy Photo Challenge finalists on display in the gallery, and an extraordinary exhibit by Konrad Wedekind showing the U.S. presidential campaign.


Since we’re celebrating the 90th anniversary of U.S.-Polish diplomatic relations this year, it was an honor to feature an audio exhibit of clips from Radio Free Europe as well as an object exhibit of underground publications from the Communist era in Poland, featuring American writers such as Milton Friedman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, and Ayn Rand.


Konrad’s exhibit will be on view in other cities as well, and we’ll announce those exhibitions on this page and through the Embassy’s Facebook site.

Stefan Bratkowski gave the keynote speech, and two expert panels discussed the history of media in Poland and current Poland-based efforts to support free press for Belarus.


We closed the day with a terrific performance by students of the Giedroyc College of Communication of Edward Gordon Craig’s “Democracy.”  We hear they will be doing more performances, so if you didn’t get a chance to see this one, you can get in touch with the College to find out more.

There are more pictures and content on guest David Silver’s blog and on the Gazeta Wyborcza blog, live from the conference.

"Demokracja to dialog bez barier"

"Demokracja to dialog bez barier"

Szymon Stec’s photo, “Democracy is dialogue without barriers,” was selected as the winner of the “Democracy is” photo contest run by the U.S. Embassy and the Center for Citizenship Education.

Szymon was able to join us at the Forum and receive his prize — a Canon Digital Rebel 12.2 megapixel SLR camera — from Alicja Pacewicz.

Szymon Stec and Alicja Pacewicz

Szymon Stec and Alicja Pacewicz

All the winning photos were on display in the gallery space:

Wystawa "Demokracja to"

Wystawa "Demokracja to"

These were the top five photos.  The top 12 can all be viewed on the U.S. Embassy web page here.

And, of course, all the contest entries are up at:  Thanks again to everyone who participated — we loved seeing what democracy looks like through your lens and hope to hear from you in future contests!

We are pleased to announce the semi-finalists of the Democracy Video Challenge – these three Polish works will go on to compete for three slots for Europe in the global finals.
The finalists were announced at the New Media/New Democracy Forum, where they were given statuettes by legendary director Andrzej Wajda.

Polish semi-finalists with Wajda

Polish semi-finalists with Wajda

We’ll be announcing the opportunity to vote among finalists in May-June 2009.  Stay tuned!
In the meantime, check out the films that will be representing Poland:

We wish all the Polish semi-finalists the best of luck in the European finals!

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