Ihab Anwar is a student at the University of Manchester in England, but is spending the 2014-2015 school year enrolled at the University of Rhode Island. For the Fall 2014 term he was in a program called “Semester at Sea,” in which he and hundreds of other students sailed around the world on board the MV Explorer.
The ship sailed into the port at Gdansk, Poland on the evening of September 3. Ihab Anwar kept a diary of the entire cruise experience, and on September 4 reflected on his brief stay in Gdansk. “When my parents saw that this city was on the itinerary, the said that it was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, which was a worker’s union that began in the 1980s.
It was led by Lech Walesa, who later became the President of Poland. The Solidarity union began during a strike at a shipyard, which we sailed past as we approached the dock yesterday afternoon. Mr. Lodge, our tour director, pointed it out.”
Ihab Anwar wrote that Mr. Lodge also told them that over the years, Prussians and Hanseatics have dominated Gdansk, which for a long time was one of the most important ports in the Baltics. “During World War I,” he told his diary, “this city was known as Danzig. Mr. Lodge said that during the Second World War the Nazis were here for five years, and that the city was mostly destroyed during liberation battles in 1945.
I cannot imagine such horrors, but Mr. Lodge says that there are still remnants of that destruction. He guided us into the city’s historical quarter and it was like walking back in time. He led us to a medieval merchant settlement, and told us that Gdansk used to be the major center for the grain trade in Europe.
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