Growing up in Poland, where the historical and cultural landscape was marked by the genocide of the Second World War, Łukasz Niparko learned to live by the words of Elie Wiesel: “The opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.”
“While observing the fragmentation of the world today, I can’t just be a bystander.”
Indifference, as Wiesel puts it, is something Łukasz refuses to adhere to, taking to heart every story from his Prisoner Of War (POW) grandfather as well as the stories developing around him. He hoped to one day see the world beyond the borders of his television set, and thanks to a scholarship to the United World College, he got that chance.
From there, Łukasz had a borderless outlook and acquaintances from over eighty different countries. Experiencing the United World College would set Łukasz on the path towards Humanity in Action and furthering his education at St. Lawrence University. His summer Fellowship in Warsaw provided him with ‘activism fluency’ and expanded his public speaking skills, which he would later utilize at the European Parliament and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio.
Being a Humanity in Action Fellow has taken Łukasz’s path from the European Parliament, to the ACLU and several Polish NGOs, everywhere he goes he proudly carries the badge of being a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, someone Łukasz would define as “having a jazz for activism, equity and adherence to human rights, a Fellow for life.”
Graduating from college, Łukasz was in search of the tools that allow him to make his belief in upholding human rights a reality and people to connect with who shared these aspirations. Being a Humanity in Action Fellow has taken Łukasz’s path from the European Parliament, to the ACLU and several Polish NGOs, everywhere he goes he proudly carries the badge of being a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, someone Łukasz would define as “having a jazz for activism, equity and adherence to human rights, a Fellow for life.”
Reflecting upon his Humanity in Action Fellowship, Łukasz was particularly moved by a speech from a former French diplomat on the universality of human rights. Inflicting, “rape, torture, and discrimination feel the same to every human being regardless of their origin,” remembers Łukasz. These words sent him on a quest to share his understanding of human rights and find ways that the global understanding of human rights could be altered to represent a variety of perspectives. Suddenly human rights were not only Łukasz’s “interests but the passions of [his] life.” Observing the fragmentation of the world today, he will not allow himself to be a bystander, rather an ‘upstander’ who can go forth equipped with the knowledge to inspire others and make a difference.
“I firmly believe that the way minorities are treated in a democratic or non-democratic state exemplifies the overall condition of human rights in that very place.”
Today, Łukasz hopes to remain versatile and respond to challenges of democracy to the best of his ability. If it is a petition, he’ll sign it. A protest? He will march. An event to be organized? He’ll spearhead it. He believes that each of these actions carries a common thread: humanity.
Łukasz Niparko is completing his doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Political Science and Human Rights in hopes of becoming a human rights educator and researcher. He also continues to mentor rising Senior Fellows. He was a Pat Cox-Humanity in Action Fellow in 2016 and an ACLU in Ohio Fellow in 2017.
More from Łukasz Niparko
We thank the Landecker Democracy Fellowship Admissions Committee 2021
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2014 Warsaw Fellowship Blog
During the 2014 Warsaw Fellowship, our Fellows wrote daily blogs of their experiences during the Fellowship. Read their reflections here.