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Visitors from Polish University Enjoy Charro Days Festivities

 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 6, 2014 Kamila Blaszkiewicz and Marlena Rot, art students at the University of Jan Kochanowski (UJK) in Kielce, Poland, enjoyed being in Brownsville during Charro Days.
 
The students and four professors from their university spent a week and a half in Brownsville to help establish stronger ties between UJK and The University of Texas at Brownsville.
Students Kamila Blaszkiewicz, Marlena Rot and photography instructor Arkadiusz Sedek from Jan Kochanowski University in Kielse, Poland, are welcomed to the Mr. Amigo event by international student Luiz Alberto Lopez, left, and Miss Bougainvillea 2013 Ana Keren Carretero, right, on Thursday, Feb. 27.
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“UTB already has a good relationship with UJK,” said Dr. Sharaf Rehman, Professor in the Department of Communications, who arranged the delegation’s visit.
 
Rehman and several UTB students visited UJK last summer as part of a summer study abroad photojournalism course. Photos taken during that trip were included in an October 2013 exhibit at UJK.
 
“We are delighted that the group brought that exhibit with them, and they worked hours to install it at the Carlotta Petrina Cultural Center,” Rehman said. “There was a well-attended opening reception on March 2; now the show will remain up for everyone to enjoy through the month of March.”
 
The UJK professors met with Rehman, Dr. Alla Paroiatnikova, Executive Director for the Office of Global Engagement, Dr. Javier Martinez, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and several liberal arts faculty members to discuss future collaboration between UTB and UJK.
 
“This visit was an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with this respected university,” Paroiatnikova said. “We currently have one UTB student attending UJK for the spring semester; and we are working toward expanded articulation agreements and future faculty exchange opportunities.”
 
Other than fostering academic ties, the group focused on capturing their Brownsville experience in pictures. They walked throughout the city photographing historical sites as well as the Charro Days activities, including the annual UTB golf cart parade that began at Main on University Boulevard and ended at the TSC Arts Center, where the group enjoyed front-row seats to see Mr. Amigo, Mariana Seoane.
 
“We all really enjoyed Charro Days,” said Wlodzimierz Batog, UJK Professor of History. “We haven’t got anything similar to this. We do have parades, but ours are different in that they are related to religious or national holidays. What is common, however, is the element of folklore and local tradition. We have folk dances, such as here, representing different regions, and local musicians where the artistry is passed down from generation to generation.”
 
Blaszkiewicz said she particularly enjoyed seeing the children’s parade.
 
“This was very special, with only the school children; we don’t have a parade like that,” she said. “They were all so cute wearing their costumes.”
 
During the visit, Blaszkiewicz and Rot were house guests of Betsy Price, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and her husband, Dr. Richard Price, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
 
“Betsy and Dr. Price have been very kind and helpful to Kamila and me; they are wonderful and very dear, welcoming us to their home.” Rot said. “We enjoyed cooking with Betsy, and we made some traditional Polish food, too. And we do like the Mexican food. It was not as spicy as I expected, but maybe we were given food at restaurants without too much spice when they heard us speaking Polish and knew we were not from here.”
 
The group, which also included professional photographer Wojech Gepner and radio producer for national Polish radio Bartolomiej Zapala, made a unanimous observation regarding the local food during their stay in Brownsville, especially at restaurants or fast food places: huge portions.
 
“The hamburgers here are very big, and the restaurants put a lot of food on the plates,” said Blaszkiewicz. “And ice – every place puts ice in the drinks, and we are not accustomed to that.”
 
One of the UJK professors, an instructor of photography, Dr. Arkadiusz Sedek expressed the group’s overall impression of Brownsville: surprise.
 
“In Europe, when you cross a border, you are then in the next country, and things become typical of that country,” Sedek said. “But here, we see that crossing the border between the U.S. and Mexico is less defined. We hear Spanish in Brownsville, and we don’t know if we are in the U.S. or in Mexico.”
 
Dr. Jerzy Mogilski, Chair of the Department of Mathematics, and his wife, Danuka, hosted a dinner party for the delegation one evening. The guests included faculty and staff at UTB who are originally from Poland; they bid farewell to the visitors in Polish, English – and Spanish.
  
The photo exhibit brought by the delegation will remain on display until Sunday, March 30 at the Carlotta Petrina Cultural Center, 1452 E. Madison St.
 
For more information, contact the Office of Global Engagement at 956-882-7092 or global.engagement@utb.edu.
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