It is hard for me to believe not only that I have finished my Fulbright grant for 2017-18 at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, but that I have now been back in the U.S. for two weeks.
.As a means of thanking all who made this possible and as a way for me to try to absorb this momentous last year, I would like to share some of my thoughts with you (and pictures too!). The words that come to mind in describing this experience are life-changing, amazing, inspiring, and challenging - sometimes very challenging! But, this will always be one of the great highlights of my life.
Being the only musician in the English Faculty (WydziałAnglistyki) at Adam Mickiewicz University took some initial adjustment, for sure, but it proved to be a wonderful and meaningful year. Through the Dean, Professor Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kołaczyk 's invitation to take part in this interdisciplinary experiment, I functioned as a sort of resource person or artist-in-residence, and this gave me contact with so many more people, than if I had just been in one classroom. I would say that this innovative, cutting-edge approach to learning was a remarkable and deep experience which was a “win” for everyone involved.
Due to the flexibility of the Fulbright program and the Dean herself, I was really able to do everything that I had hoped to - teaching about American music and culture, continuing my research on the great Polish pianist and composer, Frederic Chopin, in his home country, and performing concerts. But, in addition to these things, I had no idea before I went to Poland that I would be able to present an extra 35 performances, lecture-demonstrations, workshops, and conferences in 8 Polish cities and even in 1 other country, Denmark. This was truly exciting for me.
Specifically, in the English faculty, I taught two classes on American music and culture, "The Musical Legacy of Immigration," and "Music and The Movies." My WA students were great, the courses were a lot of fun to teach, and I believe and hope that I helped increase the students’ understanding and awareness about the American music and film culture that they love so much.
I was also able to give a huge variety of other presentations, usually involving me taking my keyboard along so I could demonstrate how music, language, and culture intersect. I did things like visit graduate seminars, first-year English classes, the Culture Vultures Club and the Language, Gender, and Sexuality Club. I also played the English Faculty Christmas party, several faculty recitals and lectures, and participated in American Education Week.
But, the thing of which I am most proud and which has most meaning for me is that - through music - I was able to reach hundreds and hundreds of Polish people. I was able to visit Polish primary and secondary schools, play several U.S. Embassy events, form a choir with some of my fellow Fulbrighters, and even play a concert in the unlikely and unusual venue of the Stary Browar shopping Mall in Poznan! All of this reconfirming for me that music truly is the universal language.
Most importantly, this Fulbright year and my Adam Mickiewicz experience has reaffirmed for me the great power we have as individuals to reach out to people across the world to find our similarities and the things that we share in common. This is needed now more than ever in this world.
I would like to thank the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, Dean Dziubalska-Kołaczyk, and especially you, my readers, for going on this journey with me. Below you will find some photos from May and June, including the memorable Fulbright Graduation Ceremony on June 8.
Wishing you all the best,
Poznan Spring, 2018. View on the River Warta, behind our apartment.
The famous Poznan Mural on the side of a building.
Two different groups on May 21 visit to Katolicka Szkoła Podstawowa i Liceum, Poznan - high schoolers, and dancing 4th-6th graders.
Playing for the English Faculty Graduation at AMU, May 26.
Images from May 28 "A Fusion of Two Musical Worlds" concert at AMU Aula, with Stan Breckenridge.
I presented at the "Nostalgia in Contemporary Society" Conference at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, on June 3-4, and we loved Copenhagen also: mural on the side of a building en route to Odense, rhubarb and asparagus in a market, and the Copenhagen Opera House.
On June 10 I had the honor of playing a concert at the Piotr Janowski Festival in Grudziadz, Poland. I played solo and four-hand with Piotr's widow, pianist and Frederic Chopin University of Music Professor, Joanna Maklakiewicz, in a beautiful park named after my former beloved chamber music professor.
June 17, on my last research trip in search of Szafarnia. The town is close to Torun, and the scenery was not only beautiful but took us back in time. This is where Chopin spent his summers when he was 14 and 15 and where he learned so much about mazurkas.
On June 8 we celebrated Fulbright Graduation. I had the honor and pleasure of being in Poland this year with about 35 other Fulbrighters who are not only wonderful human beings, but brilliant and talented, too! We performed music, accepted diplomas from Justyna Janiszewska, Director of the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, Alesander Danda, Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and John C. Law, U.S. Embassy Warsaw. And finally, we spent our last time together - especially our little Polish family, including, Sasha Whitaker, Olivia Schimmel, Wendell Myers, Deanna Segal, and Hannah Gill. We have definitely made some new friends!
(This site pamelahowland.com is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author Pamela Howland and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.)