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Gdynia Business Week shim John & Kristie

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travel :: Friday, August 21, 2009
Gdynia Business Week
EUROPEAN VACATION DAYS 3-9 :: GDYNIA, POLAND :: Kristie says, "After volunteering as a Company Advisor (CA) for Washington Business Week for 8+ years, I was intrigued when I heard the news that WBW was planning a program in Gdynia, Poland. I had never been to Europe and didn’t know much about the history or people of Poland at all. I quickly fell in love with the idea of working with youth in Poland and exchanging ideas about capitalism and the free enterprise system.

As soon as I heard the great news that I was selected to be one of the CAs involved in the Gdynia Business Week program, John and I began researching the country and became very excited about planning a trip to Eastern Europe.

While the Business Week program and curriculum was basically the same as it is in the U.S., there were several modifications and adjustments to be made along the way as we learned more about the Polish culture and their business environment. One significant difference was that each of the CAs was partnered with one Polish educator throughout the week. My educator, Kasia Pucylo, was a pleasure to work with and was of great assistance in helping me translate a few business concepts and ideas to the students. While the goal was for the students to speak English the entire time they were in the program, we had some Polish-speaking time occasionally to help us bond as a group, and to brainstorm product and marketing ideas. Our company rule was to immediately translate Polish back to English in order to become proficient and comfortable using English business terminology. After all, this was an academic program and not a camp!

This group of Company Advisors was made up of some of the most dedicated, focused, and engaged individuals that I have ever worked with in my Washington Business Week history. Their support and encouragement, along with the generosity and hospitality of the folks with the City of Gdynia, added such value and richness to my entire experience. Thank you! Kudos to Steve Hyer and Janice Jaworski who worked so hard to coordinate and carry out this amazing program expansion into Poland! Thank you also to Debra Markert for her efforts and coordination with the Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association.

Working with my students in Company Funique, and learning more about them and how they are similar and different from teenagers in the U.S., was by far the most rewarding and fulfilling aspect of my Gdynia Business Week adventure. These young adults are amazing and inspiring! They hold so much promise for the future of Poland. At the conclusion of the program, my students surprised me with the creative group photo above. Thank you Marek, Monika, Krystian, Marcin, Kamil, Mateusz, Maria, Malgorzata, Karolina, and Jacek!

I can’t think of a better way to first experience Europe, given my personal interests and passion for youth, business entrepreneurship, and education!"

Next stop: Kraków!

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