What's great about Poland-----I share some of these opinions and I found many.
-- As part of its Eye on Poland coverage, CNN is asking its viewers -- including Poles living in Poland and abroad -- about what defines the nation today.
Here is a selection of your responses:
As a Colombian who's been living in Poland for 3 years I would like to share with you what I think about Poland:
1. In my opinion, Poles should not forget about the toughness that they showed over the years fighting against their invaders and maintaining the concept of the polish nation. This will help them now to develop the country towards the future. On the other hand, I think that poles have a "very good memory" and sometimes this fact doesn't let them keep going to find their future living still in a past that is gone.
2. I would say that Poland's reputation is defined mainly by personalities and stereotypes like John Paul II, Lech Walesa or vodka. That is why I find the "eye on Poland" initiative so great: People around the world will get to see a little bit of a wonderful country.
3. Mostly Europeans, but slowly we are getting to meet other groups here.
4. Politics are very important here (as everywhere), that is why I have to mention some of the politicians on duty like Donald Tusk or Lech Kaczynski. The catholic church and the clergy are also very influential and I am talking about the Father Director and radio Maryja phenomenon. And last but not least I would have to mention moral authorities and intellectuals who have been struggling for Poland's future for decades like Lech Walesa, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Bronis?aw Geremek and Jan Nowak Jezioranski (unfortunately the last 2 passed away recently).
5. Positive: The way they proudly preserve their roots and traditions. During 150 years of occupation by Germans, Austrians and Russians the polish nation existed in their souls and hearts and after that they were able to reconstruct the country successfully. I think that is remarkably unique. Negative: I have the impression that they tend to see a glass of water half empty and I have not seen this kind of generalized behavior in any other country. But as I said before, that is just an impression. Maria Claudia Vasquez-Wychowaniec, Warsaw, Poland
What is most fascinating about Poles? In spite of all the obstacles on the way, we never gave up our sruggle for independence. It has always been of key importance for us because independence means freedom. And freedom means everything. What is most fascinating about Poles? In spite of all the obstacles on the way, we never gave up our sruggle for independence. It has always been of key importance for us because independence means freedom. And freedom means everything. Marta Dzido
When visiting today's Poland, one is struck by the evidence of so many epic historical events. Unfortunately, there is such a dearth of knowledge about Poland's contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. By passing on two replicas of the Wehrmacht's Enigma Coding Machine to British and French intelligence in 1939, the Poles who had cracked the German code, planted the seed for Nazi Germany's eventual downfall. Poland also had the fourth largest allied armed force and the largest underground army in occupied Europe. The Polish squadrons fighting in the Battle of Britain had the highest percentage of downed Luftwaffe aircraft to their credit. We would ask CNN to help us spread the news of these and other accomplishments. Robert J. Dabrowski, New York
I am really happy to see such well-prepared and deeply engaged videos about Poland on CNN. Great job! Till this moment, many people in western Europe and US might think that Poland is only history, catholicism and long period behind iron courtin. I admire Your articles about new, modern Poland, fulfilled with well educated, optimistic young poles making their carriers, loving each other and having babys. Keep an eye on us in the next years. We will show You more! Arkadiusz Szwabowski, Warsaw, Poland
I am very glad to hear that a program like the one mentioned above is part of the CNN lineup. I think Poland has been a very misundertood country that has been shallowly portrayed for a very long time by many different media. It is difficult to speak on behalf of all Poles since we are quite a diverse bunch, however, as a Pole I can speak about my take on my culture and country. As a Pole, I often feel compelled to correct misconceptions prevalent in the US i.e. "the Polak jokes", allegedly ubiquitous Polish convervatism, alleged anti-semitism, and alleged homofobia to name just a few. Of course, some Poles are antisemitic, homofobic, conservative (in a negative sense) and acting stupidly just like in any other ethnic group one could find examples of almost anything. However, majority of Poles are quite open minded, highly literate and cultured, appreciative of Jewish heritage that has been linked to Polsih culture for several hundred years (ever since Poland was one of a very few sancturaies for the European Jews), and many Poles excell in many fields of higher education worldwide ( I am aware of several Poles holding professorship possitions at USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley and others). I am proud to be Polish and am very grateful to CNN for providing this venue for correcting some misconceptions and forming new perceptions of Poland that correspond to its reality both historical and contemporary. Damian
As a Polish person currently residing in the country's capital I felt a compelling need of sharing some of my thoughts with the CNN team in relation to the "Eye on Poland" series. As my country pushes forward towards the future I feel that what must not be forgotten are the laudable traditions of the opposition movement from the communist era, the eagerness of ordinary people to engage in political issues, a willingness to fight for their own rights and a steadfast belief in one's views. Nowadays, I fear that this trend may be in a decline and that high-profile media is further aggravating the situation by concentrating on issues of relatively little importance, worthy of a mention in tabloids at best. Although the turnout in the last parliamentary election, especially among young voters, was something to be extremely satisfied with, especially when compared with previous ballots, I do feel that both the media and ordinary citizens could benefit from reviving the tradition of political disputes and involvement.
As for Poland's reputation, I think that what might be considered a good determinant of the country's reputation outside its borders is Poland's unwillingness to compromise all to easily in matters regarding its relations with both the EU and the US. The seemingly ceaseless negotiations to broker a deal that would make Poland a EU member state ended with Poland eventually gaining the upper hand and joining the organization largely on its own favorable terms. Another example to illustrate this thesis, is the recent obstinate, and quite incomprehensible, stance of the Polish government in negotiating the missile shield agreement with their US counterparts, long after their Czech counterparts settled the issue despite the majority of citizens being against the deployment of the elements of the missile shield on the territory of the Czech Republic. Had it not been for Russia's invasion of Georgia, the deal between Poland and the US might have never been sealed. Consequently, Poland is sometimes seen as a 'trouble maker' both on the European political stage, as well as over the Atlantic.
Also, thanks to the involvement of both the previous and the present president in Eastern European matters, support for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and for Ukraine's and Georgia's NATO bids, lend Poland an image of a country intensely involved in and deeply concerned about the unfolding of events in this region of Europe. I think that since Poland joined the EU in 2004 it has finally started to shed its image of the impoverished and hapless cousin of the West. Poles no longer feel inhibited to interact freely with Western Europeans, they no longer feel as if they were trailing behind their Western neighbors.
They are often multilingual, well educated and driven. This optimistic trend looks rather likely to continue. The person in Poland now in the limelight is definitely the Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The politician is not only a highly influential personage in his Civic Platform (PO) party but is considered as such by the bulk of the general public. Very often it seems as if the whole cabinet was only a background to the PM's figure. Tusk, who once used to champion a fight with corruption, bureaucracy and hindrances to the existence of the free market, and his ministers are doing relatively little or nothing at all to amend the situation in the country but still the incumbent PM is seen as a certain successor to Poland's President Lech Kaczynski. Poles are a nation of great contrasts. Though fiercely proud of their country when in contact with foreigners, they can often come up with the most caustic criticism of the developments in their homeland in conversation with a fellow countryman. They are considered to be a fun-loving nation fond of incessant fun, but on the other hand many Poles are simply thrilled to engage in complaining about the pettiest things, and indeed it is the favorite pastime of many work colleagues, etc. What can be said beyond any doubt, though, is that Poles are a very hospitable nation and the notion of "outstaying one's welcome" is alien to most Poles, especially those from the older generation, who would really go out of their way to make their guest feel like home. Thank you for the riveting "Eye on Poland" series. Monika Noniewicz
I'm a Polish student living, and first and foremost studying in the UK, namely in Aberdeen, and would like to say a few things about my beautiful country for the use of your recent report about Poland on CNN. Firstly, if there is anything that you should include in the show concerning what the Poland is best famous for, you should indisputably say. The patriotism and national awarness. Despite the fact that I have lived 2 years abroad for now, and I have maybe seen lots of cities with better prospects for future, still I am so so proud of being Polish and I hope to get a good education in the UK so that I can later use is best in my country and contribite to Polish developement. Unfortunately, so many young people have left Poland, who don't want to come back because of low salaries and Polish government affairs, and therefore I think that CNN's program is of particular importance in this respect, to show that Poland has changed and has to be taken care of and developed mainly by young, vibrant and eductaed people. Secondly, every Polish citizen will surely say that what he or she misses desperately is our cuisine. Polish food is incredible, as it brings back all the most beautiful memories from childhood, and I must say that never in the whole world the tomatoes smell so nicely, as in Poland!!!! Also plays a vital role in Polish christmas and easter traditions. Moreover, Polish recipes are handed over from generations to generations, so constitute a distinctive part of Polish culture and way of living. Thirdly, and lastly, I must say that what has shaped me as a person, and has sculpted my views of the Polish history, which has been, unfortunately so fatal on many occassions. Thereby, we can never forget about the past, despite the new era of the EU and the Europeanization, we have to also remind the world about our roots and historical background, as that is what made us who we are now! Thank you. Dijak
As an American living in Poland for the last 16 years, I can say Poland is a great country with great, sincere and hard-working people. In the business that I co-own we have trained more than 25,000 Polish managers to lead their companies to fight and win on the global competitive landscape. I am proud to support this. When people ask me what I think of working and living in Poland, I often explain my answer using a symbol of the country, the old town of Warsaw. The old town was completely and utterly destroyed in World War II. Yet despite significant resistance from the Russians, the old town and castle were rebuilt brick by brick from paintings. Much of the funding for this project was supported by Poles who lived abroad. The Poles are a fighting and industrious people with a difficult past but a tremendous future. John Guziak, Warsaw
Last edited by china; Jul 22nd, 2009 at 09:06 PM..