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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » September 30, 2013
Britain in Poland
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A society with a future
September 30, 2013   
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When Poland joined the European Union in 2004 it became much easier for Poles to study in the United Kingdom. A growing number of them are now studying at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Some have completed their studies and returned to Poland to work. These alumni have joined the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Poland (www.oxbridgepoland.org) which thanks to its young members is enjoying a renewed lease of life. Oxford and Cambridge alumni associations exist around the world.

The society in Warsaw was founded in 2001 by Professor Zbigniew Pełczyński, a political philosophy professor at Pembroke College in Oxford. He was supported by Stefan Kirk, a financial consultant and from behind the scenes by Radosław Sikorski, also from Oxford, who was then deputy minister of foreign affairs and is now the foreign minister.

The society brings together Oxbridge graduates who date back to the early sixties to those who graduated a year or two ago. Many are expats. The high point of the year is the annual dinner which hosts a prominent speaker, often a fellow graduate. This year it was Adam Zamoyski, the celebrated historian. In between dinners, the society, thanks to Annie Krasińska, the indefatigable events secretary, organizes meetings be it with business leaders in Poland (in cooperation with the Łazienki Palace) or simply speakers who have something to say like Krzysztof Dębnicki a former Polish ambassador to Pakistan who gave a fascinating talk on the challenges facing NATO in Afghanistan.

Most often the society drinks wine at its meetings. Many gatherings have been held in the Enoteka wine bar in Długa St. However the latest meeting was a wine tasting hosted by HE Ivan Gyurscik, the Hungarian Ambassador. Here we compared the relative merits of Hungarian and French wines. Our guide was Antoni Wróbel a member of the 2013 Cambridge University wine tasting team which every years sets its collective palate against a similar team from Oxford.

As ever a good time was had by all. Why else would the society exist?

Krzysztof Bobiński
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