Travel Tales

Poland Rzeczpospolita Polska - Part 2

Travel Tale No. 11 - Vol. 3a


Poland is known for its fighting spirit and persistence when it wants its own way. In August 1980, the Solidarity trade union emerged out of frustration from the labor turmoil, producing a clear victory in a Marxist state, giving the workers the right to organize independent unions, which later became a political force. In 1987, the Polish Pope, Joannes Paulus, II, stated: "In the name of mankind ... the word 'solidarity' must be pronounced," he said encouraging the Catholic workers, as they swept the parliamentary elections and the presidency. In the 1990s, it transformed its economy into one of the most sturdy in Central Europe with its strong work ethic. However, it still faces high unemployment and a broken infrastructure together with a poor rural underclass. But in 2001, Solidarity suffered a major defeat in Parliament. Poland joined NATO in 1999, and the European Union in 2004, with its transformation to a market-oriented country. It is also active in the Euro-Atlantic organizations. In its fight for economic liberalization since 1990, it is today a success story among transition economies.

In 1989, due to increased environmental concerns by post-Communist governments, air pollution remained a serious concern because of sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain which has caused forest damage. However, this situation should improve as industrial establishments bring their facilities up to EU codes; however at a substantial cost to business and government.

As a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland has implemented the strict Schengen border rules to restrict illegal immigration and trade along its eastern borders with Belarus and Ukraine.

My mother is the only person in our family who has been invited to attend a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House, for a send off to Poland. In 1987, she volunteered to teach English, ESL, with the US Peace Corps, in Szczecin, Poland, near the Baltic Sea. The Polish teachers no longer wished to teach Russian and wanted to learn English. The Peace Corps sent over its first contingent of 60 teachers to aid in the country's economic development. Mother, together with Richard Duslack, from Chicago, were having a great time teaching the Polish high school students to sing Oklahoma! I visited her for Christmas and lost my way wandering about the forest near Swinoujscie, with my camera. Unfortunately, I found myself behind a wire fence, then face to face at the top of the hill with an enormous anti-aircraft gun. Curious to know where I was, I kept walking around looking at the WWII bunkers under the ground with massive steel doors, when I accidentally bumped in to a soldier with a rifle and a large dog. In bad Polish I tried to explain I was not a spy, but a lost tourist who had climbed in through a hole in the fence. He promptly pointed to the exit. I was glad to get back to my hotel where my mother was watching an Elvis Presley movie in the communal sitting room. (But that was not the first time I came close to getting shot for being where I wasn't supposed to be!)

Poland's industries consist of iron, steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, glass, and textiles. Its capital is Warsaw and the country has about 38 million population, and is about the size of New Mexico. Major rivers which are important to commerce are: the Vistula, Warta and Bug.

TEN CENTURIES OF POLISH LITERATURE, would be a great volume in any secondary school library for ensuring the presence of Polish humanistic thought, and for readers who want to learn about the European fiber of Polish literature, and about its originality.

Mobile cellular service has been available since 1993. Fixed-line service is growing slowly but still has lags in rural areas. Its international country code is: 48.



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