Grade 8 Private Audience with Lech Walesa

This week the grade 8 students embarked on their “Living History” field trip to Gdańsk. This excursion, which is woven into the grade 8 Individuals & Societies and Native Polish curricula, focuses on the methods used to disrupt, challenge, and change power systems.

As our students make the whole world their classroom, they have had invaluable experiences with workshops and guest speakers at the European Solidarity Centre and the Museum of the Second World War. Among the highlights were a lecture by Anna Mydlarska, head of the Film Documentation Department at the Solidarity Centre, participating in mock “Round Table Talks” at the Centre, and having a private audience with former Polish President Lech Wałęsa.

The latter meeting yielded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students to ask Mr. Wałęsa direct questions in an effort to gain deeper insight into the research questions they have formed in class.

Grade 8 Round Table Talks at European Solidarity Centre in 2019

It is also important to mention that last week the students were treated to a meeting with photographer Chris Niedenthal, seeing many of his photographs and hearing the stories behind each image. Mr. Niedenthal shared some moving images of Pope John Paul II’s visits to Poland, the early days of Martial Law in 1981, and the beginnings of the strike in the Lenin shipyard in Gdańsk (watch a video of the talk here).

It was amazing to see their reactions when on a tour of the Solidarity Centre, they came across several of Mr. Niedenthal’s vivid photographs on display.

All of this learning will be further supported by our annual Living History Day, held on our campus on Wednesday, February 13, when the students will once again come face to face with numerous individuals who played key roles in the Solidarność movement in Poland.

It is important for me to recognize the incredible work of the grade 8 teachers who worked together to create these memorable experiences for our students.

Text written by Upper School Principal Michael Sheehan

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