- January 28, 2014
The fourth year of the Polish University of Third Age in Šalčininkai’s activity
The Polish University of Third Age in Šalčininkai has been working for three years already. The organisation, which gathers elderly, but still active and vigorous people, was founded in January 2011. On Saturday, January 25, a conference was held in Jan Śniadecki Junior High School to recapitulate the 3-year activity of the University.
Universities of third age are popular form of activity for people in their retirement age all over the world. The seniors, who have once lived brisk professional and social life, do not want to withdraw themselves and limit exclusively to their grandchildren’s upbringing or religious practices. The university of third age’s activity consists in self-education, broadening knowledge and competence range, filling spare time, maintaining friendly bonds and supporting social life.
The Polish University of Third Age in Šalčininkai gathers over 100 people and has three branch offices: in Šalčininkai, Jašiūnai and Eišiškės. As Antoni Jankowski, a former manager of Education Department in Šalčininkai, former principal of Šalčininkai’s Orphan Home and the current director of the University said, for the last three years the seniors have been touring the Šalčininkai Region and other regions of Lithuania, such as Marijampolė, Kėdainiai, Šiluva, Šiauliai or Paberžės. They have frequently visited Poland – following John Paul II and Józef Piłsudski’s tracks they have done sightseeing in Warsaw, Cracow, Częstochowa, Łagiewniki and Wieliczka. They have also participated in integration meetings held annually in Olsztyn by the universities of third age working east of Polish border.
During the conference recapitulating the 3-year activity of the University, the seniors enumerated 39 excursions that they have organised, both long- and short-distance. “Such excursions are edifying, for many people it may be the first opportunity to see places that they couldn’t have visited during their professional activity years”, Antoni Jankowski said. “The pensioner becomes forgotten by organisations that he have worked for and is gradually locking himself in home. Indifference towards social life, or even insensibility of a kind, appears. The lonely man becomes harsh. So when events like these are held, the people join happily to arrange more meetings of that sort. Each branch office organises its own get-togethers, Catholic holidays’ celebrations or anniversaries. This elicits sense of commitment, responsibility. And if you have more work – you do not think about your illnesses. A doctor from the local clinic jokes that there have been less patients since the University works in Šalčininkai”, Jankowski added.
The only hindrance in The University of Third Age’s activity is lack of financial funds. “We envy Poland, where there is the Senior Policy Department in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the state grants 40 million zlotys annually to organisations like ours. There is no such policy in Lithuania, only the Šalčininkai’s municipality and our sponsors – old friends from Poland that we have once worked with – help us. We joke that initially we worked on our authority and now the authority works on us”, Antoni Jankowski, the University’s director said.
During the recapitulation conference, Antoni Jankowski once again was elected the Polish University of Third Age in Šalčininkai’s director.
In 2014 the seniors are planning to visit Licheń, Poznań and Gniezno in April. What is more, they intend to hold the integration meeting in Olsztyn for universities of third age’s members.
The students of the Polish University of Third Age in Šalčininkai are also active members of the Association of Poles in Lithuania. Many of them founded first circles of this organisation 25 years ago. The aforementioned conference was therefore combined with the celebration of the 25-year anniversary of the Association. Zdzisław Palewicz, the president of the Association’s Regional Department in Šalčininkai, presented the seniors with diplomas of thanks for the social commitment.
Tłumaczenie by Szymon Wnuk w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Szymon Wnuk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.