[You may have seen yesterday’s post on Gdynia Business Week, a program of Washington Business Week and the Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association that the Embassy supported in a variety of ways.  Here’s the report on Friday’s events from my colleague Larry Grippo, who traveled to the event as part of the Embassy’s Speakers Bureau program.  If you are interested in inviting a U.S. diplomat to participate in your event in Poland, please visit this page for more information on Speakers Bureau.]

On Friday, August 21, I served as a judge for two events held at Ogolnoksztalace High School in Gdynia as part of Gdynia Business Week.  Approximately 80 students from 22 high schools in Gdynia, along with five students from Seattle, participated in a week long program that culminated in a stockholder presentation and trade show.  I and two other local judges first evaluated two student groups who presented the financial and operational results of their fictional companies.  Using hand drawn charts as visual aids, the students assumed roles as corporate executives and described their company’s performance over the past two years.  The students then answered our questions about their company.

 I then participated as perspective investor during a mock trade show.  This was a much noisier and more interactive part of the program.  I was given several thousand “investor bucks” to give to the companies with the best new product presentation at the trade.  I walked around the trade show venue, listened to students’ sales pitches and discussed the merits of investing his money in their companies.  I was very impressed by the students’ creativity, enthusiasm and high level of fluency in English.  I was not surprised that the “painless cure for liver cancer” won the trade show event.

After the competition, I joined the other judges and the U.S. and local organizers of Gdynia Business Week for a lunch reception.  Everyone was pleased with how the students performed during the week, and the organizers promised to look into bringing the program back to Gdynia next year.

Warsaw & Chicago, Illinois.  Minsk Mazowiecki & Lacey, Washington.  Krakow & San Francisco, California.  Gdynia & Seattle, Washington.  Chelm & Knoxville, Tennessee.  What do all these pairs have in common?  They’re Polish-American “Sister Cities” – associations designed to bring our two countries closer together by creating connections between an American and a Polish city that have a lot in common.

The Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association links two thriving port cities through exchanges and cultural programs.  For the past six years, the association has brought students from Gdynia to Seattle to participate in Washington Business Week, a program for high school students that teaches entrepreneurial skills, teamwork, and creativity.  In 2009, with support from Washington-area businesses, the Foundation for Private Enterprise, and the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw (among others), the Sister City Association decided to bring this program to Gdynia.

For over a week, the City of Gdynia hosted 100 Polish students, 4 American students, 20 Polish teachers, and 11 advisers from companies based inthe Pacific Northwest.  Ambassador Victor Ashe traveled to Gdynia for the program’s opening, and over the week the students heard from such figures as Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament; Janusz Reiter, former Polish Ambassador to the United States; Mayor of Gdynia Wojciech Szczurek; Gdynia Deputy Mayors Michal Guc, Ewa Lowkiel, Boguslaw Stasiak, and Marek Stepa; and Michal Jaworski from Microsoft, Poland. 

Representatives from Washington Business Week at the U.S. Embassy

Representatives from Gdynia Business Week at the U.S. Embassy

On Monday, August 24th, we had the honor of  hosting many of the Americans who helped make Gdynia Business Week possible, including Mike Waske of the Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association, Steve Hyer from Washington Business Week, and many other people who worked hard to make this program happen.  We thank them for giving the Embassy an opportunity to get involved in this program and wish the Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association and Gydnia Business Week great success in their continued cooperation.

 

Gdynia Mayor, Wojciech Szczurek; Gdynia Deputy Mayors Michal Guc, Ewa Lowkiel, Boguslaw Stasiak, and Marek Stepa; former Polish Ambassador to the United States, Janusz Reiter; and Michal Jaworski from Microsoft, Poland.