Youngstown State University’s Adam Fuller, a political science professor, was the only foreign guest at this year’s Freedom Conference, a nationwide political theory conference that was held on Sept. 19 in Poland.
Fuller, who is now in his second year of teaching at YSU, spent a semester teaching in Poland in 2011. He was invited to the annual academic conference to present his soon-to-be published paper on Leo Strauss.
“I am affiliated with the Alexis de Tocqueville Center at the University of Lodz, where I spent a semester in 2011 teaching,” Fuller said. “That center was organizing the program for this year’s conference, and they invited me to give a paper about a famous Great Books commentator of the 20th century of German-Jewish origin, named Leo Strauss. I was the only foreign guest.”
The conference took place in Uniejow, the small Polish village on the Warta River. Like most Polish towns, it has a “historic castle and beautiful grounds.”
At the summit, Fuller had the opportunity to speak with a variety of Polish scholars as well as reunite with some of his former colleagues from Lodz. He said returning to the country after two years felt natural.
“When I first arrived in Poland in 2011, the place seemed really exotic to me, but getting off that plane in Warsaw on this second, short visit, I felt like it was only yesterday that I had been there, almost as if it was a home away from home,” Fuller said.
He said he was welcomed with open arms and was happy to see old friends.
“The Polish people are very welcoming to me, as they are towards all foreign guests, especially Americans. As I already knew some of the
conference participants, it was in some ways a reunion. Since teaching there in 2011, I developed good friendships with professors and graduate students there who I hadn’t seen in person in two years, so it was nice to see them again,” he said.
Fuller said that his understanding of the Polish language is limited, but he did gather a great deal of information from the conference.
“From living there, I picked up several phrases in Polish, but certainly not enough to hold a conversation or understand speeches. I did, however, learn a lot academically at this conference. Some of the papers were explained to me afterwards in English, and I had plenty of time to have good talks with colleagues and meet new people from other Polish universities,” Fuller said.
He noted that the experience was very unlike those of North America.
“At one of the receptions, a graduate student was asked by the Tocqueville Center’s director [Zbigniew Rau, a famous Polish scholar of John Locke] to give a violin performance in my honor. It should be noted that this is extremely unusual and something that we’d never see happen at a North American conference, but this is Poland, which has delightfully warm people,” Fuller said.