In 2004 the first group of students from Central and Eastern Europe countries visited Poland under the “Study Tours to Poland” (STP) Program. The conference organized by the Leaders of Change Foundation on September 26, 2019 made an opportunity to mark the 15th anniversary and sum up the “STP” Program.
Initiated 15 years ago by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation study tours to Poland for active citizens (students and professionals) from countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia allow to show realities of Poland and European Union as well as develop and strengthen professional and personal contacts between leaders from these countries and Polish people and institutions.
Almost 100 people, mostly “STP” alumni and experts, attended the “1989 and 2019: Similarities and Differences. Challenges and Inspirations” conference held in the office of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation in Warsaw. The participants debated on the best methods of using Polish experiences of transformation and Polish way to European Union by East European countries for their development. As part of the three-day forum the “STP” alumni from Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine attended also the workshops on project preparing and implementing, as well as local community activation. They learned about activities of Polish NGOs and established contacts that can lead to trans-regional cooperation in future. The event was co-funded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the “Public Diplomacy 2019” competition.
The “Study Tours to Poland” Program is one of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation initiatives aimed at sharing Polish experiences in transformation with countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The offer for students consists in a dozen-day-long study tours to Poland for people at the age of 18-21 coming from Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Russian Federation (presently from the Kaliningrad, Novgorod, Leningrad and St. Petersburg oblasts, as well as Moscow and Voronezh). The participants have an opportunity to meet Polish academic environment, civic organizations, leaders of public life as well as attend lectures, workshops, seminars and cultural events. The offer for professionals is addressed to representatives of local governments, central administration, central public institutions, NGOs, media, educational sector and other professional groups from countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. The tours are held in cooperation with Polish NGOs as well as central and local administration. The coordinator of study tours is Borussia Foundation, Olsztyn, and the manager of Study Tours to Poland program is the Leaders of Change Foundation.
Over the period 2004-2019, a total of over 9,500 students and professionals representing various environments participated in study tours. Every year Poland is visited by over 300 professionals and over 200 students.