Saturday, June 18, 2016

Poland of the future and of the past

Dzien dobry!

This is just a quick update as we all do our last-minute packing in preparation to head back to the states.  As we do so, I'm just processing in my head how much information has been thrown at us over the week, and yesterday was no different.

The stop at is an interesting story of vision in Poland.  The start up has exploded with it's innovative approach to education.  If you haven't heard of the service yet, stay tuned...given that it has expanded to offer services in 12 languages across far more countries, this will likely be a known resource and support tool (such as Facebook), for your children as they tackle their homework.

Brainly's visionary approach was the perfect end to our company visits as it really embodied many of the key themes we've noticed throughout the trip.  The business is catching on, but eventually it is going to need to find a way to be profitable.  The future will be a known challenge in the Polish business world as they figure out which future path they take to remain stable, sustainable, and to grow; although, in all honesty, this is a known growing pain for business across the globe.  To the comment made earlier this week by a site presenter, this truly is another sign the Poland is worthy of fighting amongst the global commerce competitors.

Then, Auschwitz.

I'm not even sure what to write about this visit, to be honest.  We all know the history, and we've heard the stories of survivors as well as the many, many more stories from the families of their loved ones who did not survive.  Yet, to walk on the premises and to see the beyond massive layout that the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp extends, all of a sudden the wave of emotion as you realize the reality of those stories hits you hard.  

A hallway of prisoner photos, the piles of shoes, glasses, pottery, brushes, even of human hair shaved from the women as they were escorted to, what was to many of them, their deaths...I cannot even describe to you how extensive these piles were, and each and every one of them represents only a scratch at the surface in memory of the millions who were killed here.

From one extreme to the other, we've come to recognize the many rises and falls of Poland.  Why is this rise different?  I would argue because we are watching the rise of a new democracy.  In just the last 100 years, in essence the memory of those currently living in Poland, the Polish people have overcome the horrors of the Nazi invasion and they also united to fight communism.  They've re-built war-torn cities like Warsaw to new heights.  They've fought to create a Poland that they want to live in, a home that they are proud of, and a culture that they want the next generation to embrace.  

The world, and especially the European Union, has recognized the fight the Polish community has put up and has numerous support lines in place to help it prosper.  Given the context of our lifetime, and even more so the long-term history, the story of Poland's future will certainly be one to watch.  I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience what we did and to get a better sense of their feelings on the country and what's to come.  It's been a surreal week.  Dziękuję bardzo, Polska. 

More pictures to come after we get back...see you again in New York.

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