Originally created 06/28/02

County welcomes its Polish 'siblings'



When Jerzy Wituszynski ate his first steak in Columbia County, he was surprised that it was nearly 2 inches thick.

"I had only seen a steak that big in American films," Mr. Wituszynski said. "It was really good."

Mr. Wituszynski is one of 10 delegates from Nowy Sacz City, Poland, who were getting a taste of life in Columbia County through the sister-city partnership between the two communities.

Columbia County Commission Chairman Jim Whitehead and his wife, Peggy, are lodging members of the delegation at their house during their weeklong stay in the United States.

"They're just great people," Mr. Whitehead said. "They went through the Holocaust and then 40 years of communism, and you'd think they'd be the hardest, most distrusting people in the world. But they are the most loving people I have ever seen."

The group has toured local hospitals, Augusta State University and public safety facilities, including the newly expanded Columbia County Detention Center.

"It is interesting to see these investments (and) how these facilities serve to make people feel safe," Mr. Wituszynski said of the new detention center.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the partnership that is helping to improve Nowy Sacz City's economy and create a better understanding of both cultures as they take turns welcoming one another.

Anna Pogwizh, a middle-grades English teacher from Poland, made her second trip to Columbia County this year.

"We observed some summer-school classes and saw how the students had computers ... Everything has been so nice," Mrs. Pogwizh said.

Nowy Sacz City and Columbia County have signed an agreement to continue the program for 10 more years.

"It's a great program, and I am very proud of Columbia County for being involved in it," Mr. Whitehead said. "We've seen a lot of economic growth in Nowy Sacz City."

Mr. Wituszynski plans to take home several videotapes of his trip, some ideas to help plan for the future of his hometown, and a lot of memories.

"We are always touched by the generosity of the hosts, and we always feel at home here in Columbia County."

Reach Karen Ethridge at 706-868-1222, Ext. 109.



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