Jakarta. The Polish Embassy of Jakarta recently launched a new comic book that tells the incredible story of Jozef Zwierzycki, a Polish geologist who spent 24 years mapping the Indonesian Archipelago.
The Indonesian version of the book, ‘Józef Zwierzycki Ahli Geologi Kepulauan Indonesia dan Negari Polandia’, aims to share the story with all Indonesians, particularly those who are young and inspire the next generation of Indonesian geologists to carry on the legacy of the Polish scientist’s work.
According to the political and economic officer of the Embassy of Poland in Jakarta Michal Weglarz, Zwierzycki is a national hero for both Poland and Indonesia as he pursued a remarkable scientific career in both countries.
Despite facing a number of challenges in his life, Zwierzycki’s pursuit of academic and scientific excellence is something the Polish Embassy wants people today to understand.
“The point of this comic was to raise awareness of this individual, this hero of science in Indonesia and to let Indonesians know who he was and to let them be inspired by his life,” Weglarz told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
Zwierzycki came to the Indonesian Archipelago and worked his way through the hierarchy of geological surveyors of the Dutch East Indies. He later became a respected lecturer at the Bandung Institute of Technology.
Weglarz said when Zwierzycki worked in the Indonesian Archipelago there was no internet and there were rampant tropical diseases in the environments he worked in.
“In order to conduct his surveys, he traveled through the jungle, very often in bad weather, all from Sumatra to New Guinea Island and yet he has drawn high quality maps that are praised up until today by geologists all around the world,” he said.
In 1938 Zwierzycky returned to Poland and was arrested by German Nazis for being a Polish intellectual. He spent time at Auschwitz and in hiding for over three years. Once World War II ended Zwierzycky later became a university lecturer in Poland and discovered deposits of copper.
“And thanks to that we as Poland right now are the 5th world’s biggest producer of copper -- copper being one of the key metals of modern technology,” Weglarz said.
Weglarz said the Polish Embassy decided to tell the story of Jozef Zwierzycki’s life through a comic book as “it’s easy to read '' and “comic culture is quite popular in Indonesia''.
The comic book was officially released in Jakarta on Wednesday.
“We aim at young people who, after hopefully reading this comic book, will consider pursuing a scientific career”.
Each year the Polish Embassy awards scholarships in engineering and other technical studies to selected students in Indonesia to nourish the next generation of Indonesian geologists and engineers. Since 2016, 120 scholarships have been funded.
“Beyond scientific cooperation, we want to put a large emphasis on education which is in fact a very promising area of bilateral cooperation”.
“We want to build on the legacy of Zwierzycky and we want to animate the cooperation between geological agencies of Poland and Indonesia.”