The Anglo-American-Polish Association (AAPA)
A charity in England and Poland
After twenty years the Anglo-American-Polish Association (AAPA), a charity registered in England and Poland, is ceasing its activities. One might say that its existence is no longer necessary as most of its aims have been accomplished due to the enormous progress Poland has made since the change in 1989, joining NATO and the EUROPEAN UNION. Exploring electronic technology in the early nineties Poland soon joined the ranks of leaders in the field, discovering how it could encourage growth in most areas but, most importantly, in the spread and use of English. It must be remembered that English, prior to 1989, was considered as “suspect” and was not taught in most secondary schools and was reserved for the “happy few” at university level.
The Anglo-American-Polish Association had as its first goal arranging English lessons in Poland and “work shadows” in England for nurses and other professionals with years of experience in their fields in Poland but low levels of English. Over one hundred in this category were sent on English lessons and more than twenty had “work shadow” experience in England. Most were nurses who went to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, under the inspired guidance of Maura Buchanan, and received financial aid and hospitality from members of the English-Speaking Union and people from various branches of ROTARY in Oxford. From the beginning of these exchanges Mr. and Mrs. Gowing were of great support to the nurses and the AAPA. Now English is a requirement in the educational requirements to become a Polish Registered Nurse. The Anglo-American-Polish Association should like to think that its activities contributed to this change, if even in a small way.
When the Anglo-American-Polish Association started there were few books in English to be found in libraries or educational establishments and there was no money to purchase them. So the AAPA launched ’’Books in English” requesting donations for books in English: second-hand books, as long as they were in good condition, were welcomed. Therefore, a second hand copy of DAVID COPPERFIELD was happily received as well as ANNA KARENINA in translation. A generous grant from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw allowed the Anglo-American-Polish Association to supply much needed reference books for the Main Library in Sopot where the Anglo-American-Polish Association had its offices. In England, the FOLIO SOCIETY made handsome gifts as did the library of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, under the guidance of the late, sorely missed, Deborah Eaton and its former principal, Justin Gosling, as well as the Voltaire Society of Oxford, provided valuable tomes for research for the Universities of Cracow and Torun.
J.R. Motors, a transport company in England and Poland, under the aegis of its founder, the late, much regretted, Richard Lubaczewski, helped to bring more than fifty thousand books from England to Poland. In Poland, the Anglo-American-Polish Association sorted, labelled and distributed them with the help of J.R. Staff under the supervision of Marek Lubaczewski, present President of J.R.Motors,. and other volunteers including some lively members of ROTORACT.
During these years of the activities of the Anglo-American-Polish Association libraries, schools and establishments of higher education in Poland were creating highly active computer centres. Smart computer cafes opened. Devices such as portable telephones became affordable which led to the latest developments. Today, Poles, young and old, are computer savvy indeed and the use of English is thriving in all areas of the economy, education and entertainment.
It is due to the good-humoured and patient guidance of Peter Bryan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and founding member of the Board in England, with the expert support of Hanna Skibińska and Sławomir Bręda in Poland that the Anglo-American-Polish Association came to being and existed for these twenty years: their contributions as volunteers cannot be praised enough.
The English-Speaking Union in Poland as well as in the UK, USA and Canada has been of great help. Margaret Trowell and Charles Empson, late trustees, are remembered with appreciation and affection for their contributions. Thanks are due to Cynthia Styles, who for over five years, was a most effective trustee.
The authorities of the city of Sopot allowed the Anglo-American-Polish Association to rent office space at the Main Town Library, where, it enjoyed the valuable collaboration of its Director, Roman Wojciechowski and his staff. These offices also hosted those of the English- Speaking Union of Poland and the Oxford Society of Northern Poland. Apart from a few small donations in the beginning, all costs of running the Anglo-American-Polish Association and the other aforementioned organisations were borne by its Director.
Special thanks are given to Andrzej Kanthak, the Honorary Consul of England in the Tri-City, and ROTARY in Poland, and for the constant support of Janusz Markiewicz and encouragement of the late, lamented Ryszard Kaszuba.
It has been difficult indeed to compose this farewell. The main concern is that it has not acknowledged sufficiently the various types of contributions so many made to the Anglo- America-Polish Association over the years.
The GOLDEN CROSS, the highest honour for a civilian was awarded to the Director of the Anglo-American-Polish Association by the President of Poland in 2015 following the Award given by the Governor of Pomerania in 2003. This recognition could not have happened without the support of organisations, private and governmental, in many countries but, most essentially, by the moral help of so many individuals for which utmost gratitude is given.
The Anglo-American-Polish Association will continue its work with the English-Speaking Union of Poland. Until further notice, mail addressed to Sopot will be forwarded.
The Anglo-American-Polish Association (AAPA)
Miejska Biblioteka Publiczna
Ul. Obroncow Westerplatte 16
aapa dot dir at gmail dot com
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