The Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) welcomed Polish Ambassador to Ireland H.E. Anna Sochańska to its Athlone campus today to meet with members of its thriving Polish community.
The purpose of the trip was to highlight the “close connections between Ireland and Poland” and to celebrate Polish students’ positive impact on the campus community.
“This is about celebrating our Polish students in TUS, their academic progress including to PhD level, and the great work they have been doing through their Polish Society and on other societies,” said Frances O’Connell, VP for Student Education and Experience at TUS.
Using TUS’s emblem of a bridge and water as a metaphor, she spoke about the benefits of multi-culturalism, explaining how TUS “nurtures the students’ academic and social experiences” whilst studying in TUS and the importance of their development through involvement with societies, among other things.
“We’re European citizens and we are global citizens and that is an emphasis we put on the development of our graduates and their attributes,” she said.
“An appreciation for and exposure to other cultures is hugely beneficial for our students and we strive to offer a myriad opportunities for this engagement throughout the student experience.”
The TUS Polish Society, which was at the fore of the visit, was borne out of a desire to create a strong community of Polish people, and those interested in Polish culture, within TUS.
Society members recently volunteered for a Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity event, which took place in Athlone Springs Hotel as well as across Poland, to help raise funds for paediatric and elderly care.
“At TUS, we want to encourage students to take part in as many societies as their time allows,” Treacy McIntyre, societies officer at TUS, explained.
“Joining a society, it’s a terrific way for students to make new connections and create strong friendship groups.”
“Some of the members of our Polish society aren’t even themselves Polish but they have an interest in learning about another culture and making new friends,” she added.
Speaking to Ambassador Sochańska, TUS President Professor Vincent Cunnane commented on the close links between Ireland and Poland and called Europe “a huge draw” for TUS in terms of teaching and research.
Currently, TUS has 173 Polish students studying in Athlone, with a further 158 studying at its Moylish campus.
Prof. Cunnane also praised the “leadership” Poland has shown in its support of Ukraine and all that is being done to provide refuge to its people.
Since the Russian invasion began, a year ago this Friday, Poland has found a home for 1.2 million Ukrainians, 1000 of which are university students.
“It’s an incredible response from a nation and we hugely respect and thank you for all that your country is doing to help in this regard,” he told Ambassador Sochańska.
Ambassador Sochańska, who was appointed as ambassador to Ireland in October 2019, also met with several Polish PhD students and was given a tour of the campus, including a visit to TUS’s state-of-the-art engineering and informatics facility and its international athletics arena.