Former Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrat councillor, Michal Siewniak, was contacted few months ago by Assistant Professor Katarzyna Radzik - Maruszak, from a University in Lublin, Poland. Mrs. Katarzyna Radzik - Maruszak is writing her dissertation on Local Government (LG) in the UK and she wanted to talk to current and former councillors from Hertfordshire.
She was really pleased that some Polish people (still not enough!) are keen to be part of the democratic process. Being part of public life is so important and it shows that EU nationals contribute in many different ways, also by becoming a 'civic voice' for their residents. Following a visit to the UK, Mrs Katarzyna Radzik - Maruszak invited Michal on a return visit to meet her students who study politics at UMCS in Lublin in the South East of Poland.
Michal Siewniak said: "I was delighted to come to Poland and give a lecture on the subject of Local Government in the UK which took place on Wednesday, 13 December. It went really well! I had an opportunity to talk to a superb group of students (35) who were very eager to learn more about the political process in the UK, Welwyn Hatfield, canvassing, Liberal Democrats and my experience (as a Polish migrant) of standing and winning a seat.
"This meeting was also important for number of other reasons. It clearly demonstrated that there are various aspects of 'Polish migration' to the UK. During the talk I've tried to highlight the fact that Britain thrives on diversity which changed and shaped me as a person. I have also explained why I got involved in politics in the first place; making a difference, building cohesive communities, serving your local residents are only few reason why this was and is such an important exercise!
"After my talk, which lasted 60 minutes, students had an opportunity to ask me some additional questions. There were plenty! What is an average allowance of a councillor in the UK? Why I decided to stand for Lib Dems? Was it difficult to represent a minority party?
"The whole experience was truly amazing. As someone who came to the UK with big dreams and aspirations, I felt proud and humble. I felt that I have actually achieved something and my story can be shared and inspire others."