Visiting students from Poland bring culture and intrigue to SHSU campus

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This week, the SHSU campus has had the pleasure of hosting a group of journalism students from Kielce, Poland. The students have been spending the week becoming immersed in all different types of journalism within the university and the community of Huntsville as well as in surrounding cities.

The SHSU Global Center for Journalism and Democracy has been hosting Polish students Bartlomiej Zapala, Marta Sznajder, Mateusz Kaczmarczyk and Monika Miller, taking them on a series of meetings and events throughout the university. Going to these events, the students are hoping to gain knowledge of the American journalism process, the different topics American journalists report on, as well as the opportunity to interact with American journalism students and ask questions.

“What we’ve done is set up a variety of meetings for them to not only talk about journalism on every level but also to introduce them to the topics that journalists here are tackling today,” Dan Rather endowed professor and head of the GCJD professor Kelli Arena said. “So everything from immigration to the upcoming election, to oil and gas, to race, to the criminal justice system; they are really getting full immersion into the challenges and topics that U.S. journalists face every day.” Arena said.

Arena also talked about the fact these students have travelled to our small town of Huntsville, Texas as opposed to another major U.S. location such as Washington or New York. She discussed the benefits of the students coming here and experiencing our day-to-day life at SHSU firsthand.

“We have a small community but what better way to get a glimpse into American life and topics that Americans are grappling with each day,” Arena said. “Sometimes I think it’s great to get away from the major activity, the central locations that most people go to and just get people out to the smaller communities because it gives you a different perspective.”

The visit from the students is not only beneficial to them but also a great learning opportunity for SHSU students. SHSU students have the opportunity to speak with the students about their culture and life in Poland.

Several staff members at The Houstonian had the privilege of sitting down with the students and discussing journalism, the media, and current events that are making a global impact in both Europe and America.

“The students who have had the opportunity to interact with them have been inspired and have learned,” Arena said. “It’s always good to be confronted with a different perspective. It’s always good to hear about how news and global developments are impacting communities and people outside the United States. It helps us to grow. It helps us to perhaps become more empathetic.” Arena said.

The visiting students have never been to the states before this trip. Mateusz Kaczmarczyk said that even by being from Poland, they are familiar with some aspects of American media.

“We know all about the American industry,” Kaczmarczyk said. “For some reason in Poland it’s really popular. Mainly because English is like our second language so we understand and know [about America].”

The students are taking advantage of more than just academic opportunities while in the U.S. They talked about the big differences in Polish and American food as well. Marta Sznajder said they tried Taco Bell for the first time while here in Huntsville.

Despite all of the culture shock and differences in everyday life, the students explained they are able to find similarities between American and Polish cultures and there is something bigger that seems to connect us all.

“The sky’s always the same,” said Monika Miller.

The visiting students will be staying on campus until Saturday and will be visiting a number of other places including The Texas Tribune and the Community Impact Newspaper’s Headquarters. They will have many more opportunities to interact with other students and faculty members as well.