- January 28, 2013
Poles of the Year 2012 – awarded
This year’s edition of the Readers’ Plebiscite – “Pole of the Year” promoted by “Kurier Wileński” magazine was characterised through two anniversaries. On the one hand, it was the 15th edition of the Plebiscite, which took place in the Polish Culture Centre on Sunday, January the 27th and on the other, the Plebiscite was marked by the 60th Anniversary of “Kurier Wileński” magazine.
But let’s skip the numbers as it was mostly due to the prize-winners who made the ceremony special. The list of these who came up on the stage to receive the statuette was very significant. We could see there people acting in different domains of life such as: sport, science, poetry and education, art. Our community representatives at the highest governmental rank were also present at the Plebiscite.
Each of them deserves all the recognition possible. Among the prize-winners there was Professor Mr Bogusław Grużewski, the head of the Institute for Employment and Social Research of Lithuania, creative scientist and lecturer, reputed expert for such international organisations as the World Bank or the European Commission. Another person awarded, Mr Józef Szostakowski may be actually called a man-institution as he teaches the History of Literature, works as a scientist, poet, writer and Vilnius District guide and he is also the author of the Vilnius Region guidebook.
Mr Michał Sienkiewicz, the head of the “Sokół” Sport Association, was also granted the award. His personality, modesty, attachment to the Polish tradition and his attitude show in the best possible way how it is to be a Pole in Lithuania. Ms Katarzyna Nemyćko may serve as a proof of Can-Do-Pole, as she managed to sing her success by performing on Lithuanian stage and on TV screen. Sister Michaela Rak won the award thanks to the hospice she established couple of years ago, after her arrival to the Vilnius lands.
Rev Rusłan Wilkiel, who by his modesty and by his everyday priestly service serves God and people, was also awarded. So was Rev Józef Aszkiełowicz whose name is known for everyone. He is an example of patriotism, religion, faith and tradition combined altogether in one person.
Another awarded, Mr Stefan Kimso acts on the football field as the head of the “Polonia” Football Club, scoring goals for the Polish identity.
Mr Jarosław Narkiewicz, standing on the Seiams tribune for the second time, struggles for the rights of Poles in Lithuania and he is the very first Pole in the function of Seimas’ Vice-chairman.
Mr Edward Trusewicz, the Pole of the Year 2012, a social volunteer and the Secretary of the Council in the Association of Poles in Lithuania, now represents Polish community in Lithuanian Government as the Deputy Minister of Culture.
And here the problem arises: how to choose the most prominent Pole who deserves the recognition of the “Kurier Wileński” readers among so many outstanding and brilliant personalities, whose feats were exceptional and sometimes even touching? As the chief editor of “Kurier Wileński”, Mr Robert Mickiewicz said, the Plebiscite is a contest for active readers as they, equipped with scissors and envelopes, decide whose candidature will win.
“Every year, the Chapter gathers in order to count the readers’ votes, impatiently waiting for the result. This year, a record was hit as we received over 10,008 votes. I ask myself the question – where is the limit? But as we issued over 80,000 copies of our magazine during these 2 months when the contest was held (we issue 2000 copies of the magazine each day), I assume that the Plebiscite has a great potential”, said the chief editor.
The “back-up” and the “mainstay” of the “Kurier Wileński”, that is the readers, are invited to the stage. By the means of voting, they were elected to become members of the Chapter of the Plebiscite. These people are: Paweł Andruszkiewicz, Andrzej Baranow, Helena Bogdziun, Janina Gajżewska, Elwira Lepiłowa, Tomasz Naganowicz, Alicja Pietrowicz, Lucja Sinkiewicz, Halina Skrobot, Anna Stankiewicz.
The publisher and the CEO of the “Kurier Wileński” magazine, Mr Zygmunt Klonowski was happy to see that Poles became visible in Lithuania; he congratulated on the prize-winners, whishing them all the best: “We have the chance to show our values, our possibilities. Poles in Lithuania play a significant role in Lithuanian politics, which makes us possible to fight our corner”.
The winner of the Plebiscite, Mr Edward Trusewicz while receiving the main prize, the crystal cup, thanked all who voted for him in the Plebiscite: “We are all the winners. If I won this prize as the Secretary of the Association of Poles in Lithuania, that means that all the Association won it because wherever the smallest branch of the Association is, there is also the Polish identity. If somebody voted for me for the reason that I had become the Deputy Minister of Culture, then the electorate of the EAPL is also the winner, as it enabled Poles to have a seat in the Seimas and later on, in the Government. I am assuring you that our road will not be easy but the Lithuanian road will not be easy either, because we will not let our affairs to be marginalised. We do not claim anything extraordinary, we just want to get what belongs to us in the sight of European law”.
The uncrowned winner of the Plebiscite was Sister Michaela Rak from the Congregation of Sisters of The Merciful Lord Jesus, the founder of the Vilnius hospice under the name of the Blessed Father Michał Sopoćko. Unfortunately, she could not be present at the Plebiscite, but the flowers and greetings were received in her name by Sister Laura. Mr Stanisław Michalkiewicz, the editor of the Polish broadcast in the Lithuanian Radio said while handing flowers: “What was done by Sister Michaela had not been done by any Pole in Vilnius Region. She came from a neighbouring country, she struggled with bureaucracy and she often went empty-handed. Yet, she managed to do an incredible feat. I would not dare to decrease the merits of other prize-winners, but I think that Sister Michaela deserves to be the Female Pole of the Year 2012”.
On a happy note at the Plebiscite, Katarzyna Niemyćko and Rev Józef Aszkiełowicz sang together the song “My – Polacy z Wileńszczyzny”(We – Poles from the Vilnius Region) with accompaniment of all the guests in the room.
The ceremony was run sharply and humorously by the unrivalled Anna Adamowicz and during the concert, the audience had a lot of fun at the songs of Greta Buzarewicz and the girls band “Trio z Połukni”. The atmosphere was cosy, nice and familial as everyone knew each other, both the prize-winners and the editorial staff of the “Kurier Wileński” and also its sympathizers – the readers.
We are pleased to see that Poles in Lithuania do not only exist but they are more and more visible and that the image of a Pole is inspiring and amazingly positive. We are also pleased that Poles are worthy people and they are not afraid to speak up in order to be heard, recognisable and outstanding.
As Józef Szostakowski marked in his speech, Poles are gradually transforming from “the consumers of the spiritual goods – culture and art into the creators of these goods”. They also speak up in many other domains of life: politics, law, economics, and sport and this year’s Plebiscite proves that this attitude pays off.
Tłumaczenie Bartłomiej Cichoń w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Bartłomiej Cichoń the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.