The Consul General of Poland in New York, Maciej Golubiewski, has just finished his first-ever visit to Buffalo and Western New York. Among his stops was the studios of WBFO.
Golubiewski, who was the guest of the Polish American Congress of Western New York, spent most of his time in Western New York meeting with government and business leaders as well as members of the public. He also had some time for sightseeing, revealing he and his wife visited Niagara Falls and enjoyed the view from the observation deck of Buffalo's City Hall.
He also participated in a program at the Buffalo History Museum focusing on the life of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the Polish nobleman who joined the cause of the newly-born United States in the American Revolution. Among his legacies is the campus used by the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, better known as West Point. It was designed by Kosciuszko.
"A lot of Poles don't know that Kosciuszko was actually an engineer, not only an insurrection fighter against Russia in Poland and then of course in the Revolutionary War for independence in the U.S.," said Golubiewski during his visit to WBFO. "Ho fortified West Point. My first time I went to West Point was 1997 for a student conference and it was the first time I learned this."
Kosciuszko was also, as Golubiewski stated, a pioneer in civil rights. He urged his friend and colleague Thomas Jefferson to free slaves. Kosciuszko also encouraged him to give all his possessions to those slaves once freed. That, Golubiewski added, didn't happen. But the Polish nobleman's progressive thinking was also put to work in his homeland.
"He was also very much for the reform of the Polish state," he said. "He granted nobility to some of the peasants that he enrolled in his insurrection against the Russians. He was very much a democrat, not speaking politics but democrat in the sense of enlarging the sphere of liberty."
Golubiewski discussed several issues while in the WBFO studio, including Europe's refugee crisis. Central European nations found themselves facing a large influx of people from Syria and nearby areas, fleeing the war-torn region.
In the United States, refugees arriving have already undergone a lengthy, extensive vetting process. That was not the case with tens of thousands of refugees moving through other Central European countries, Golubiewski explained.
"By the invitation of one of the (European Union) member states, there was a mass influx of mostly what seemed to be economic migrants from the war-torn areas to Germany," he said. "But they had to cross a lot of borders. There was very little respect for the rule of law. They just kind of came in en masse.
"People actually did test those people. A lot of them turned out to have multiple passports, multiple IDs. A lot of them were not from Syria."
Golubiewski also spoke of the values he wants Americans of Polish descent to appreciate the most. He praised them for bringing the right values into this society.
"Poles are family, faith, tradition-oriented people, by and large," he said. "This has always been the strength of America. Strong churches, strong families, strong cultures, strong faith. It really makes it great, and Poles have that. Poles have that very healthy orientation."