September 9 - 16, 1998

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Bridging International Boundaries with Friendship

By Kara Hood

While Monika Alancewiz and Izabela Bejnar of Olsztyn, Poland have enjoyed their first trip to the United States, they are also looking forward to returning to their native country for one main reason: the food! Fortunately for Monica, 17, and Izabela, 20, there was plenty of kielbasa, pierogis and other Polish delicacies at a reception held Saturday night in Hartford by the Friendship Force of Connecticut (FFoC). In addition to the food, the event also included Polish music and traditional costumes. This is the third exchange FFoC has had with a Friendship Force group from Poland, in addition to numerous other meetings with groups from several other countries.

FFoC member Mary Heslin, who hosted the reception at her home on Kenyon Street said she was pleased to open her home to the Polish group. Mayor Mike Peters also offered his greeting to the Polish group through a written proclamation, which was on display at the reception.

The FFoC was joined at Saturday's event by members of the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford. The Club was responsible for providing the array of traditional Polish foods and many were dressed in traditional Polish costume.

Club President Walter Twardowski spoke at the reception and said the club had recently helped ship over 800 poundss of books to various libraries and schools in Poland. The books will be used to assist English language teachers in Poland.

Rosemary and Irv Hargrave, the hosts of the Polish exchange, said they had been warmly received on their own trip to Poland and were grateful for the opportunity to return the favor.

The exchange group from Olsztyn, which includes six students and several family members, is in the second week of their three-week stay in America. Before coming to Hartford, they spent a week in Georgia and will spend their third and final week in Boston. While in Hartford they will take a trip to New York City in addition to exploring various parts of Connecticut.

The Friendship Force was established in 1973 by Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, as a non-profit organization to "promote peace around the world through the force of friendship." The FFoC has been involved in the program since it started and several members accompanied the Carters on the Force's first overseas trip, to Israel, which left from Bradley Airport.

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