Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Poland Project Year-End Report

In 2013, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded a generous grant to the program on “Multicultural Poland: The Coexistence of Polish and Jewish Cultures in the 20th Century.” This program was developed as part of the exchange agreement between the East European State Higher School in Przemyśl (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Wschodnioeuropejska w Przemyślu, or PWSW) and Daemen College in Amherst, New York. The formal Memorandum of Agreement between Daemen College and PWSW was signed in December 2012. This agreement was the result of extensive discussions between the institutions, which were initiated by Ms. Agata Obratańska (PWSW International Relations Office Coordinator) and Dr. Andrew Kier Wise (Associate Professor of History at Daemen College). These discussions began in July 2012 on the PWSW campus in Przemyśl during the first meeting of the European Central Slavic Conference, and continued in the United States during a visit to Daemen College by Ms. Obratańska in October 2012.

The project in July 2013 was made in cooperation with Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Wschodnioeuropejska w Przemyślu (the East European State Higher School in Przemyśl); AND Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk w Przemyślu im. Kazimierza Marii Osińskiego w Przemyślu (Przemyśl Society of Friends of Learning of Kazimierz Maria Osiński).

The project was co-financed by the Department of Public and Cultural Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the framework of the Cooperation in Public Diplomacy 2013 grant.

Regarding all blog entries from 2013 related to Poland and/or the website that features the cemetery mapping project: The publication expresses exclusively the views of the authors and cannot be identified with the official stance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.
The program on Multicultural Poland: The Coexistence of Polish and Jewish Cultures in the 20th Century” was planned and coordinated by Ms. Agata Obratańska, Ms Agnieszka Bielec (PWSW Institute of Political Science and Regional Policy Coordinator and Lecturer), and Mr. Tomasz Olejarz (PWSW Institute of Political Science and Regional Policy Vice Director and Lecturer). These two colleges were also joined by two important NGO partners: the Society for the Friends of Learning in Przemyśl (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk w Przemyślu, or TPN) and Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc. (a US-based organization led by Dr. John Hartman and dedicated to the preservation of Jewish culture in Przemyśl). The past president of TPN, Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki, and Dr. John Hartman both served as lecturers for the program. In addition, Dr. Hartman oriented students to the Service Learning component of the program related to the preservation of the Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl.

The theme of the program (“Multicultural Poland: The Coexistence of Polish and Jewish Cultures in the 20th Century”) provided the focus for educating students about global awareness and diversity awareness. The lectures and tours of the program focused on promoting intercultural awareness. In addition, our program emphasized civic engagement in the Service Learning component that involved the historic preservation of the Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl. Daemen and PWSW students learned about the history of the coexistence of Poles and Jews in Przemyśl by working on a “mapping” project that will result in a location guide of tombstones for visitors to the Jewish cemetery.

With the help of Mike Berta (Director of the Experimental Classroom, Daemen College), a website has been developed for the ongoing mapping project. Click here  for a link to the Google Map website that we are building. This is an ongoing project, and new photos and information will be added in the future.
The website that features the cemetery mapping project expresses exclusively the views of the authors and cannot be identified with the official stance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki & Dr. John Hartman speak on "Galicia: One Land, Three Nations"

Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki
On November 23, Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki delivered a lecture on "Galicia: One Land, Three Nations" in Wick Alumni Lounge.  Over 100 persons from the community and the College were in attendance.  You can read Mr. Alfred Karney's full report in the Am-Pol Eagle here.

Dr. Pudłocki is an Assistant Professor of History at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. He is also one of the lecturers for Daemen College's summer program in Poland, which brings students to Poland each July as part of an exchange program with Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Wschodnioeuropejska w Przemyślu (East European State College in Przemyśl, or PWSW).

Audience for "Galicia: One Land, Three Nations"

Dr. John Hartman also provided commentary on the multicultural legacy of Galicia. Dr. Hartman is founder of Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc., which oversees the preservation of a Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl, Poland. 

Dr. John Hartman

Dr. Hartman is also a lecturer for Daemen's summer program in Poland, and he oversees a service learning project to create a detailed online map of the Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl. Daemen and PWSW students launched this project in 2013 and will continue working on it in 2014. 

L-R: Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki , Dr. Andrew Wise, and Dr. John Hartman

For more information about the Daemen Program in Poland, please contact Dr. Andrew Wise at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Students discuss "Coming to America" for International Education Week

Panelists (L-R) included: Pasang Sherpa (panel organizer), Sonam Sherpa, Dr. Aakriti Tandon (Assistant Professor of Political Science), Elvira Zaykova, Johanes (Jacob) Tacastacas, Tsering Choedon, Carla Hernandez (front), Kimberley Maende, Zahra Nayyeri, Amie Dukuray, and Sophia Ng (Global Programs Office). (Photo courtesy of Pasang Sherpa)

By: Dr. Aakriti Tandon

The Offices of Global Programs and Housing & Residence Life jointly sponsored a student panel on Coming to America on November 19, 2013, to honor International Education Week at Daemen College. The panel was moderated by Dr. Aakriti Tandon, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the History & Political Science Department, and organized by Daemen student Pasang Sherpa. A wide range of countries were represented by the panelists, who included Carla Hernandez (Mexico), Zahra Nayyeri (Iran), Sonam Sherpa (Nepal), Elvira Zaykova (Ukraine), Amie Dukuray (Zimbabwe), Kimberley Maende (Kenya), Tsering Choedon (Tibet), and Johanes Tacastacas (Philippines).

Panelists Elvira Zaykova, Amie Dukuray, Sonan Sherpa, and Kimberley Maende, with Dr. Aakriti Tandon. (Photo courtesy of Pasang Sherpa.)
Several students shared their experiences of culture shock they experienced when they first settled in the United States. The perceived cultural differences ranged from food choices to holiday celebrations to dating and the education system. Some common themes emerged in spite of the very diverse experience of the panelists. Almost all of them felt they had been stereotyped at some point in their stay in America. The students felt that there was a lack of awareness regarding their home countries and some had taken it upon themselves to educate their classmates about their culture and traditions, thereby discouraging certain stereotypes. Kimberley said that she had been questioned if she grew up in the vicinity of lions and lived in a hut back in Africa. Tsering explained that she was constantly asked if she was from China, Japan or Korea. She has often had to show Tibet on a map to her classmates and frequently attempts to share the history and culture of Tibet with her friends. Amie has adopted a similar approach, trying to debunk the myth that Africa is one giant country.

Panelists & some of the audience members at the "Coming to America" event

Almost all the panelists concurred that their family, relatives and friends back home felt that they were rich because they lived in America. Sitcoms and Hollywood movies had led them all to believe that America was the land of the rich where "money grows on trees," to use an old cliche. The panelists had often been asked to bring back expensive gifts, symbols of American capitalism. Carla Hernandez, a History major and Pre-law minor, explained that she always brought back keychains from the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State building for her family and friends in Mexico. She also stressed that people in Mexico don't all "wear sombreros" or "eat tacos." The country has a rich variety of food and people, and she would like to share these experiences with her classmates. Opportunities like this enable students to enhance their college experience. The panelists expressed concern about how many Americans know very little about many countries in the world and stressed the need for education in global history and geography.

(For more information about study abroad opportunities, please contact Ms. Sophia Ng of the Global Programs Office.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lieutenant Sean McCarthy--Alumni Profile

Lieutenant Sean McCarthy in Marine Corps flight school

Sean McCarthy graduated from Daemen College in 2011 with a degree in History & Government. Currently, he is a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and is finishing up pilot training. We invited Sean to write a guest blog about his experiences in the History & Political Science Department. Sean also explains how his education has helped him to prepare for a career in the Marine Corps.  

Lieutenant Sean McCarthy:  

While enrolled at Daemen College, I attended Officer Candidates School over the summer with the goal of commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps upon graduation. My first stop as a Second Lieutenant was The Basic School, where my classmates and I learned basic infantry tactics and general officership. After TBS, I began flight school, and as of today I’m about to finish primary flight training followed hopefully by advanced helicopter flight training. 

So, how did my time at Daemen prepare me for being a Marine or a pilot? My education built a strong foundation with which I was able to adapt and thrive in my military training. I left the History & Political Science Department at Daemen a well-rounded student. This ended up becoming a strength of mine, as my post collegiate training has been based on an extremely wide and rapidly changing range of topics. I credit my education with giving me the initial skill set to quickly adjust to these ever evolving challenges. 

My senior thesis evaluated what effects a deployment to Afghanistan had on returning veterans. Because my professors gave me the latitude to investigate a topic I was passionate about, the thesis didn’t become just another assignment. I was able to fully involve myself in the process, and by doing so I gained the self-confidence and reliance that comes with completing a project of this size. They guided me through the project without holding my hand, allowing me to grow professionally in addition to furthering my knowledge on the topic.

The most significant thing I learned from my professors at Daemen, particularly in the History & Political Science Department, was dedication. They went above and beyond from what I expected from a teacher to help me reach my goals. I truly believe that each one of my professors came to work to develop students, and not show up to simply collect a pay check. They understand that leadership positions are about service. Whether you’re a professor, a manager, or a military officer your job is to serve those working for you, especially if you expect them to do the same.

Dr. Tandon to Moderate Student Panel Discussion as Part of the Global Programs Office International Education Week

Coming to America   

The Global Programs Office is organizing a Student Panel, 'Coming to America,' to celebrate International Education Week at Daemen College. The panel will include international students from a diverse range of countries, who will talk about the culture shock and perceived cultural differences when they initially settled in the United States. Dr. Aakriti Tandon, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the History & Political Science Department will serve as the faculty moderator for this event. The event is coordinate by Daemen student Pasang Sherpa.

International Education Week will be celebrated from November 18-22 at Daemen College. The 'Coming to America' panel will be held on Tuesday, November 19 at 11:30 in RIC 101.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Elizabethtown, NY, newspaper feature story on Kaleigh Ratliff

The experiences of recent Daemen College graduate Kaleigh Ratliff (History & Government, '13), were featured in a November 4 story published in her hometown newspaper, The Elizabethtown Press-Republican, linked here:  "E'town Woman Helps Document Concentration Camp." The story describes Kaleigh's work with a service-learning project restoring the Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl, Poland, and her response to a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, established during World War II in Nazi-occupied Poland.   

Kaleigh Ratliff shows tombstones in the Jewish cemetery restoration project from July 2013.  Photo by Alvin Reiner, Elizabethtown Press-Republican

Kaleigh traveled to Przemyśl, Poland, in Spring 2013 and again in July 2013 with a student exchange group from Daemen. Kaleigh's work in Poland illustrates her interest in extending her Daemen education beyond the classroom.  At Daemen, Kaleigh's coursework included a Dr. Andrew Wise's class in Polish Culture, and courses in Public History. In addition to her major in History & Government, Kaleigh completed a minor in Public History and had internships at the Smithsonian Institution (through the Washington Internship Institute, for which she was a Daemen Student Ambassador) and at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.

To learn more about the Polish exchange between Daemen and PWSW, contact Dr. Andrew Wise.  If you are interested in learning more about Daemen's Public History minor, contact Dr. Penny Messinger. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Summer Program in Poland Update

On September 18, student participants in the Daemen College Summer Program in Poland delivered a presentation at the monthly meeting of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo. Students presented the findings of their research project dealing with "World War II and Public Memory in Poland." Funded by the Daemen College Think Tank, students conducted research while in Poland in July 2013.

Left to right: Caitlyn Ebert, Chelsea Sieczkarek, Dr. Andrew Wise, Charles Peszynski (President of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo), Kaleigh Ratliff, and Elizabeth White.

Students also discussed their role in the preservation of the Jewish cemetery in Przemysl, Poland. Students were guided by Dr. John Hartman, who founded Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc. in 1998 as a way to restore and maintain the cemetery. Dr. Hartman is now working with Daemen students to develop an online archive of images and records related to the cemetery.

Dr. John Hartman (fourth from left) with students outside the Jewish cemetery in Przemysl.

Dr. Hartman will visit Daemen College on November 22-23 in order to meet with Daemen students and faculty, as well as our friends in the community who are interested in the ongoing efforts to preserve Jewish cultural heritage in Poland.

We will also be joined by Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki, a native of Przemysl and an historian at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Dr. Pudlocki is a lecturer in the Daemen Summer Program in Poland, and he will deliver a presentation on Saturday, November 23 at 7:30 in Wick Alumni Lounge. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will deal with the theme of the Daemen Summer Program in Poland for  2014: "Galicia: One Land, Three Nations. History and Memory." Next summer, the curriculum and site visits will focus on the shared history of Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians in the region that includes the Polish cities of Krakow, Przemysl, and Rzeszow, and also Lviv (Ukraine).

Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki

For further details about the Daemen Summer Program in Poland or the visits by Dr. Hartman and Dr. Pudlocki, please contact Dr. Andrew Wise at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013