October 26, 2018

VSU Hosts International Conference Celebrating Centennial of Poland’s Rebirth Nov. 9

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Department of History will present 100 Lat Conference: Celebrating the Centennial of Poland’s Rebirth as a Sovereign Nation and American-Polish Diplomatic Relations on Friday, Nov. 9.

The conference will feature a full day of events — lectures, a movie screening, an international lunch hour, and more — related to Poland’s reemergence as a country in 1918 and America’s close relationship with the country throughout the past century.

All events are free and open to the public.

“Americans remember Nov. 11, 1918, as ‘Armistice Day,’ the end of fighting during World War I,” said Dr. John Dunn, head of VSU’s Department of History. “Poles also celebrate this day, not only for a successful conclusion to the Great War but also to honor the restoration of Polish independence.

“After more than a century of subjugation, Polish patriots took back control of their lands. America strongly supported these efforts, starting with President Woodrow Wilson’s powerful endorsement of Polish independence. 

“Less than two months after Armistice Day, America and Poland established diplomatic relations. From that point onward, even during the height of the Cold War, the two nations maintained cordial relations. Today Poland and America have excellent ties, and our conference hopes to illuminate the historical antecedents of these connections.”

The conference will begin with a series of lectures from 9 a.m. to noon in the rotunda of Ashley Hall. The keynote address will be given by Dr. Neal Pease, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and editor-in-chief of “The Polish Review.” He will discuss the significance of Polish independence in modern history.

Other lectures on unique aspects of Polish-American relations will be given by Dunn; Dr. Matthew Adams, assistant professor of history at Savannah State University; and Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz, president of the Polish American Historical Association, faculty of history at the University of Gdansk, Poland, and a visiting professor at VSU for the Fall 2018 semester.

A lunch hour featuring East Central European cuisine will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at the VSU Honors House. The meeting will also include a Polish trivia game as well as information on VSU’s Study Abroad Program.

The celebration will conclude in the Odum Library Auditorium with an awards ceremony and film screenings from 2 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. First, organizers will announce the winners of a short essay competition that challenged VSU students to find, photograph, and write about traces of Polish history in the American South. The ceremony will be followed by a screening of “The Fourth Partition,” an award-winning documentary that recounts the story of four million Polish immigrants who came to America circa 1870-1920 and how they played a part in building a community in Chicago.

A poster collection featuring images of Poland and information about the country,  provided by the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., will be featured from Nov. 5-9 in the second-floor rotunda of Ashley Hall.

“People should attend this conference to learn about why America and Poland are on such friendly terms and to hear from experts who are not normally in our area,” Dunn said. “Southerners may even note some commonalities between the history and culture of Poland and our region.”

The 100 Lat Conference: Celebrating the Centennial of Poland’s Rebirth as a Sovereign Nation and American-Polish Diplomatic Relations is presented in partnership with VSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, VSU Foundation Inc., the Polish American Historical Association, The Kosciuszko Foundation, and the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Contact Dr. John Dunn at jdunn@valdosta.edu; Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz at amazurkiewicz@valdosta.edu; or the Department of History at (229) 333-5947 to learn more.

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