President Wałęsa at Harvard University


On 18 November Lech Wałęsa visited Harvard University - one of the best universities in the world. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he met with Polish and American scientists and gave a lecture at the John Forum. F. Kennedy.

In the early afternoon, Mr. President visited the Centre for European Studies where he had lunch with academics, working on the subject of political and economic change in Europe in 1989, as well as former American politicians and Polish students at Harvard University.

In the late afternoon he attended the John Forum. F. Kennedy Jr., the most important event organized by Harvard University, gathering together world-famous politicians. Lech Wałęsa gave a lecture on "Europe was not always free and united: celebrating 30 years since the end of communism" and answered numerous questions from the audience (see the video)

The event, moderated by the director of the Centre for European Studies at Harvard, Prof. Grzegorz Ekiert, was of great interest to the academic community. Mr. President urged students to engage in politics and change it for the better. He spoke about the need for the United States to regain its role of the leader of the free world, as it was be during the Cold War. He also called for a debate on new structures of social cooperation to face major global technological changes.

Lech Wałęsa's relationship with Harvard University is extremely strong and goes back to 1983, when, in the middle of martial law, the University awarded him an honorary doctorate and invited him to give a speech at the 332nd discharge ceremony of the University. Due to the impossibility of leaving the country, the text of Lech Walesa's speech was read by the then rector, Derek C Bok, in his absence.

Apart from the President (1996, 2003, 2019), the honour of giving a Kennedy lecture did not accrue to any Pole in history. In 1998, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka took part in a group discussion at the Harvard Institute of Politics. In addition, the lecture was given by two prominent professors of Polish descent - Zbigniew Brzeziński (twice) and Richard Pipes (once).

The Harvard Institute of Politics regularly hosts heads of states and leaders of politics, business and the media. Since 1978, the Kennedy lecture has been delivered by the Dalai Lama, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Francis Fukuyama, John McCain, Madeleine Albright, Al Gore, Ban Ki-Moon, Mikhail Gorbachev and Henry Kissinger. 


photo: Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School