A tale of two men...Lech and Warren

Last week was one that I will never forget. One Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010, I met Lech Wałęsa, Poland's past president and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Two days later on Oct. 28, 2010 I helped host Warren Graham, author of Black Belt Librarians and all around library security expert. Whenever a week of complete chaos like this takes hold, I feel such incredible satisfaction afterward. This weekend I reflected on the week's exceptional events. Life happens so fast that by the time the words are out the memory is already faint.

Lech Wałęsa & adventures in solidarity
In the last few weeks I was a nervous wreck, especially when I thought of meeting President Wałęsa. I called my mom with more frequency and visited her for crash courses in proper Polish. I would only have a moment's time with the man, but I didn't want to make some glaring mistake like mixing up genders.

My moment would turn into two as I was asked to interpret for a union leader from Poland. What was supposed to be quick would turn into an invite to a lunch with dignitaries, where I would meet President Wałęsa and hear him speak twice. After lunch, the presidential party disappeared to give the president some privacy. He is still a very charismatic speaker, but the folks I sat with said he was much more tame than back in the early days of Solidarność. Time slows us all down in at some point.

There was about an hour between the lunch and the Solidarność Exhibit opening at the The Walter P. Reuther Library. Before I knew it, I was sitting with union leaders translating all types of automotive business talk to the best of my ability. When union people get together, they want to talk shop no matter the circumstance. By the time we headed over to the Reuther, we were invited to an International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) meeting in Detroit. After some translated discussion about the international reach of unions, we headed to the Reuther for the exhibit opening.

The exhibit opening was excellent and there was a great crowd on hand. I met the president of the second time and took a picture with him. He would speak again, longer the second time. I was in awe of the president's interpreter. While I struggled to remember words throughout the day, she never missed a beat and lost no meaning in translation. She even translated comedy well - it was brilliant. This was the most Polish I had uttered in many years.

Attending the IMF meeting will be exciting, but it does take me away from my work at Wayne State University. Unless I'm on a week-long bike ride, I get a little antsy being away from work, but I've gotten much better.

Black Belt Librarians (and Black Belt WSU Alumni)
The School of Library and Information Science Alumni Association had been rebuilding and this event would be the manifestation of our efforts. We had all the ingredients for a winning program: support from the WSU Alumni Association, the willingness of volunteers to get the word out, people contributing promotional material, people going shopping for refreshments, etc. Even though we all have jobs and we're all busy, everyone pulled together to make the day successful.

Over 40 people joined us to hear Warren Graham, who is nothing short of extraordinary. We gave out evaluations and every last one was a satisfied participant. Warren Graham's strengths are definitely in the fact that he's a very strong speaker and that he provides practical information that people could take back to their libraries immediately. "Awareness doesn't cost a dime," he would say.

I was happy the event turned out well and I'm happy that people are hearing about the SLISAA. I got inspired and tweaked the website a little bit. Finally.

No comments: