Our History

Thank you to Sue Mleczko, a founding member, for the following anecdotes on the beginnings of IWAK.

"It was a spring day in 1994 when I decided to visit the bakery (cukiernia) near the park on Królowej Jadwigi and parked my car where the taxi stand now exists. As I came out of the bakery, a young woman approached me and asked if I was American as she had noticed my Illinois license plate. She introduced herself, Melissa Juszyński, and said she was new in town and that her husband worked for the new Coca-Cola bottling factory in Niepołomice. She asked if there were any social organizations for expats in Krakow. When she heard there were none, she decided to put one together.

She had belonged to the International Women's Association in Warsaw where she had previously lived and suggested that an organization be started in Krakow. A group of four or five women, including Christine Johnson (whose husband was with the U.S. Consulate), began meeting at each other’s homes for coffee.

In 1995, I was involved in the first group effort to put together an informational booklet for expat newcomers to Krakow. The booklet was to give suggestions on good restaurants, hair salons, information on how to ride public transportation, how to get around in the necessary government offices, etc., but it was an extremely difficult task. Because of the drastic changes taking place in the economy, by the time the members collected and wrote information to submit to me, it was already inaccurate. The recommended restaurant or grocery shop had closed, newer and better shops and restaurants had opened, people no longer paid in millions of zlotys’ but in hundreds, etc.

I also remember a key decision from IWAK's early days. For more than a year after its beginning, when membership had increased to about 30 women, there was debate about what to call the group. Informally it was "the women's group", but a movement had begun to name it KIWA, for Krakow International Women's Association. The problem with that name was that, in Polish, KIWA (kiła) is the name of a venereal disease! So IWAK was chosen, though some might say that’s also an unfortunate choice!"

And thanks to that fortuitous meeting on that spring day in 1994, Krakow has an active International Women’s Association. The coffee mornings of those four or five women evolved into the IWAK organization of today with its committees, charity work, newsletter, interest groups, and many events and activities. And, of course, we still like to meet for coffee.

 

IWAK Presidents: 

Name

Nationality

Year

Lesya Onyshko

Ukraine/Poland

2015 - 2016

Lesya Onyshko

Ukraine/Poland

2014 - 2015

Gosia Dzik-Holden

Poland

2013 - 2014

Alexandra Sears

Canada

2012 - 2013

Michelle Psiuch           

New Zealander

2011 – 2012

Louisa von Weiler

Danish

2010 – 2011

Teresa Klimczyk

British/Polish

2009 – 2010

Jenny Golding

British

2008 – 2009

Gosia Lalanne

Polish

2007 – 2008

Christel Winkler

Belgian

2005 – 2007

Josephine Maes-Smolarski

American/Polish

2004 – 2005

Sandra Jegen

Dutch

2003 – 2004

Judy High

American

2002 – 2003

Christel Winkler

Beligian

2001 – 2002

Faith Larkin

English

2000 – 2001

Elisabeth de Real

French

1999 – 2000

Mary Morrison

British

1998 – 1999

Mariska Kools

Dutch

1997 – 1998

Joan Sommers

British

1996 – 1997


News

Spring is in the air!

Happy easter everyone!

Spring has finally arrived and IWAK is buzzing with activity!  We are busy as ever organizing. Have a look at the calender to learn about our latest events. We have some specials in store for you, including our Spring Mixer and a creative Spring Exhibition.

Looking forward to seeing you again!

Happy 2016!

IWAK wishes everyone a happy new year!
May it be a memorable one, filled with friendship and lots of fun in beautiful Krakow! 

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