Grosse Pointe South High School graduate Mark Adamaszek is one of 50 University of Michigan students to receive the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship scholarship and will be studying at John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin Poland for seven weeks this summer.
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland, located south of Warsaw and west of Ukraine.
"I chose (Lublin) because my professor told me a lot of students make the mistake of going to Warsaw," said Adamaszek, who resides in Grosse Pointe Farms with his parents, Charlotte and Phil.
Since fewer people in Lublin speak English, he will be more immersed in the Polish language than he would be in Warsaw.
Adamaszek was drawn to learning Polish because his family is of Polish descent and he fondly recalls stories and historical facts his father told him about the country.
"My dad told me about this story in World War II," he said, "how basically Polish immigrants and people of Polish ancestry were coming from all over to fight for the Allies against the Axis forces."
These stories really stuck with him, Adamaszek said, and he was determined to learn the language, studying seven to 10 hours a day during school breaks. He used tools such as Pimsleur Polish books to learn the language, but when he finished those, Adamaszek resorted to watching "Curious George" in Polish.
"There were a lot more monkey noises than I thought," he joked.
During their winter vacation, if Adamaszek wasn't snowboarding, his mother said, he was studying Polish and falling asleep to sounds of another language. This was all in preparation for an interview in Polish for the chance at the FLAS scholarship.
This is not the first time, Adamaszek has taken on a special interest outside his academic schedule. He studied chemistry in the seventh grade.
He broke his wrist playing soccer and the doctors couldn't encase it in a cast so the middle schooler stayed home from school to protect the tender wrist, Charlotte Adamaszek said. To fill the hours, Adamaszek studied for a chemistry challenge offered by Wayne County Regional Educational Service Area and came in second.
Even though Adamaszek experienced a severe injury due to soccer, the sport remained a big part of his life, playing offensive positions throughout high school and on the Premier travel team, the Wolves. His interest resulted in a $1,000 scholarship from the Michigan Youth Soccer Association last year. He is a youth soccer referee and joined an intramural team at U of M. Adamaszek also is involved in several other extra-curricular activities there. He joined the Michigan Synthetic Biology Team and is the finance chair for the Northwood Community Council that organizes events for the residential community.
Adamaszek also helped establish U of M's Food Industry Student Association that helps students understand how their degrees can be applied in the food industry. He also joined the Polish club after attending a Polish film festival on campus.
"It was the first time I had been in a room of more than five Polish people who weren't family," he said.
Adamaszek is studying chemical engineering and just finished his first year at U of M. He doesn't know exactly what he wants to do yet, but he wouldn't mind moving to Poland.
"(Poland) has one of the fastest-growing economies, so I definitely wouldn't be opposed to a career there," he said.
Adamaszek leaves for Lublin July 4 and remains until Aug. 22.