Changing of the Guard


Ambassador Piotr Wilczek is interviewed by Polish media at his residence during the recent Polish Independence Day Celebration on November 16, 2016. It also marked the occasion of the ambassador’s first official introduction in Washington and to the United States as a diplomat representing the Republic of Poland.

by Richard Poremski

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On November 9, 2016, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United States of America, Piotr Wilczek, Ph.D., officially presented his Letters of Credence to Ambassador Peter Selfridge – the United States Chief of Protocol in Washington.

Wilczek is well acquainted with the United States. From 1998 to 2001 he taught Polish language and literature as a visiting professor at Rice University, the University of Illinois and the University of Texas at Austin. He also was invited to give public lectures at Harvard University and conducted research as a visiting scholar at Boston College and Cleveland State University.

Wilczek also has a direct familial bond with the American Polonia. Until his diplomatic appointment in the U.S., he officiated as the representative in Poland of the New York-based Kosciuszko Foundation. He also served as president of the Foundation’s affiliate in Warsaw.

On this evening, Wilczek called directly upon the support of the many representatives of the Polish American organizations present. He hoped for their continued cooperation to further the collective goals of Poland vis a vis Polish America presently and into the future. He especially thanked American Polonia for its tireless and focused efforts over the many past difficult and tumultuous years to free Poland – and to keep it free – from foreign occupation and domination.

Piotr Wilczek was born on April 26, 1962 in Chorzow, Upper Silesia, Poland. A prolific literary scholar, intellectual historian, author, and translator, he graduated in 1986 from the University of Silesia in Katowice, where he received his Ph.D. in 1992. He later was installed there as a professor and the Dean of Faculty. At the University of Warsaw in 2008 he was the founding director of Collegium Artes Liberales (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). Wilczek is an active member of Warsaw’s non-partisan American Study Group at the Polish Institute of International Affairs. In 2006, he received the honorific “Professor of Humanities” from Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski.

Being a true intellectual and scholar, Wilczek has been the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships. In addition to his extensive academic pursuits and accomplishments in Poland and America, Wilczek engaged in cultural diplomacy by conducting postgraduate research and postdoctoral projects in England at Oxford’s St. Anne’s College, the University of London’s Warburg Institute, and The British Center for Literary Translation, University of East Anglia.

Wilczek now embarks on a completely new journey into the world of international diplomacy and complicated politics to represent the Republic of Poland and its people. No doubt his intellect, academic achievements and extensive breadth and depth of knowledge will serve himself and Poland well in the challenging environment as a newly-minted diplomat.

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