Early this month, New York City’s Fifth Avenue was alive with the sounds and sights of Poland. Set against brilliant shades of red and white, the country’s national colors, thousands gathered for the annual Pulaski Day Parade.
Among the numerous dignitaries and groups marching in the parade were members of Stevens’ Polish American Cultural Society (PACS), who took time to look back on their first year on campus – one marked by successful events and new friendships.
“Establishing PACS on campus has been incredibly rewarding,” explained President Juliet Turalski, a member of the class of 2013 studying both Literature and Communications and Gender and Cultural Studies.
“We wanted a sense of community for those of the Polish-American heritage on campus,” explained Turalski, adding that members of this up-and-coming student organization were unaware of each other prior to its establishment in spring of 2011. “More importantly, we wanted to work very hard in outreach to the community at large, providing an opportunity for those simply interested in Polish culture.”
Participating in the Pulaski Day Parade was just the latest in a successful string of events for the organization, which currently has about 30 regular members, incorporating many more. “Any event that involves PACS is open to everyone and anyone,” explains Turalski. Perhaps recognizable to the Stevens community through the eponymous Pulaski Skyway, the landmark depression-era viaduct connecting Jersey City and Newark, General Pulaski is one of the most decorated military heroes in American History. His celebrated life is just one illustrious example of millions of Polish Immigrants who have made contributions to the American experience.
Aside from general meetings, the group has held several social campus events, ranging from traditional egg-dyeing and bowling to its extremely successful Kielbasa Bonfire Night on the patio of Babbio Hall, where over 100 participants savored 120 pounds of freshly crafted Kielbasa, among other Polish specialties.
“Based on the success of the events, we’re planning some of our biggest projects ever,” explained Turalski.
In addition to another revival of the Kielbasa Bonfire, PACS is also planning a “Mini Polska” featuring a complete assortment of traditional food and games. Also on hand, an instructional course in Perogi-making and “Wigilia Night” – the group’s representation of a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner.
“Our vision for the future of PACS events is building genuine interest through the events to the extent that they become ingrained in campus culture,” said Turalski. “PACS brings with it a great opportunity for people to come together and be associated with a culture that has many things to offer and build great friendships.”
In many ways, Turalski envisions the organization similar to related activities on campus. “Student organizations are an excellent way for students to get involved, particularly freshmen and sophomores looking to build connections and expand leadership experience,” she said, adding that working with other groups on campus is especially good in experience-building.
“Sharing something with your community, especially one as engaged as we have here at Stevens, is incredibly rewarding,” explained Turalski. “Anyone who has ever stepped foot on our campus has instantly felt the momentum, and we know that will carry us well into the future.
Steven’s Polish American Cultural team is available on Facebook, Twitter (@PACStevens) and on their newly-established website, www.wix.com/pacstevens/pacs.