Sunday, June 12, 2016

Polish Perseverance at a glance


If there is one thing to say since our arrival in Poland, it is that every ounce of history and perseverance can be summed up only in emotional reaction not words.  While it would be easy for me to sit here and tell how the trip from start to finish transpired seamlessly, I almost feel that it would be shallow to do so.  Yes, we are all fortunate that we had no issues, no bags were lost in transit, and the food and hospitality has been beyond amazing, but even after jet lag, fatigue, and other adjustments, what is most striking to me, if not the cohort, through the weekend has been the richness and depth of the Polish history and culture.

To begin, one of our first stops after arriving was at the Warsaw Uprising Museum, essentially an extensive recreation and tribute to those who rose up in the second Polish uprising in 1944, an effort to fight out against the Nazi occupation.  I will be critically honest here -- consensus amongst the group, myself included, was that while we appreciated the experience, we all would have enjoyed and appreciated it more had we had a chance to get caught up with the time change and such.  Even so, I personally have to express how particularly stuck I was by the atmosphere of the museum.  

If you have not yet had the experience, I highly recommend it.  Regardless of what you know of Polish history, especially that during World War II, I cannot even begin to describe the emotional reaction of what I felt in that museum.  From the cobblestone floor, to the eerie lighting, to the heavy heart beat playing as a sort of "black noise" (what would have been white noise, but they want you to be aware of it), to finally the sudden sound effect of planes and, eventually, a bomb exploding in the background...the effect of this museum was absolutely real.  I'm sorry to say that I couldn't repeat half the information I learned while exploring...however, I can tell you that I felt to the core this absolute sense of terror, apprehensiveness, and despair.  Certainly, whatever this reaction was, this is recent Polish history at its surface.

Yet, even with the destructive past, it is clear that there is a strong sense of pride and perseverance.  Every story from every tour guide we have met since yesterday morning has ended in a lesson of strength and belonging.  The Poles belong in Poland.  They feel a pride in Poland.  This is their home, and they will not give it up willingly.  After the emotional blow we felt at the museum, clearly only a fraction of what must have been felt by those in the moment, and the recognition of what we've seen -- that of a new Warsaw after having essentially annihilated by the Nazis -- it becomes real to a new level that Warsaw and Poland in general serve a particular purpose in the world...if nothing more, it is clearly its destiny by tribute of its history.

A sincere thank you to all of the experts of the city sites whom we've had the pleasure of working with since arrival.  Our first impressions would not be so striking had it not been for your expertise and hospitality.  The bar has been set high as we prepare for our business discussions tomorrow, so stay tuned for more as the experience continues.

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