I, like many, had some preconceived notions about Poland. I thought pierogies, kielbasa, vodka and little old women with scarves on their heads were the realities we would face once we touched down on Polish ground. But as our plane descended, to our surprise-and horror-Poland is a country not too different from our beloved America. Splashed in between the crumbling infrastructure are advertisements and businesses familar to all of us. The McDonald's, Verizon and Coca-Cola ads are the same ones strewn across our TVs and billboards. Even the, gasp, H&M looks eerily familar to the one sitting in Nowhere Mall, USA. Despite being Americans in a foriegn land, I can't help but think, did we travel over 3,000 miles only to come to a different version of America?
As I walk around Poznan, I am so stuck by what kind of country Poland is. Poland is a country in transition. The post-WWII sentiment is clear in the crumbling infrastructure and solemn, weary faces of some of the older citizens, yet the there is still a very modern feel to this city which is hundreds of years old. The youth are beautiful (and EXTREMELY well dressed) and it is not uncommon to see an ad displayaing a hot model with a hot phone on a building that probably stood before any Communist shadow over Polish land. I wonder if a common Polish citizen is aware of the two worlds their country is straddling between, and if they do, what their visions of America and the Western world are. I say this because Poland, I believe, is a quintessential example of the strength and effectiveness of globalization.
This is why I think having this conference in this country is so important. We discuss the future of our world within the safe walls of the conference center while the future of our world lies right outside. If Poland is somehow mimicing America and other world leaders, then it is our responsibility to ensure that what they mimic is based on sustainability, sensitivity and respect for the entire world and all those in it.
I suppose I am rambling, as I often do, but I guess what I should say is that I am very grateful for this experience. The feel of this convention is like none I have ever experienced before and something I am still processing. Future rambles will probably touch on this further. So far, I am having a blast. I am exhausted, but my hunger for knowledge and a taste of the excitement only global politics can provide fuels me everyday.
Also, I haven't met a piece of stuffed cabage that I didn't like.
Peace and Pierogies,