- September 9, 2014
Polish woman from Lithuania: The award from the President of Gdańsk is an honor and a great distinction
I came to study informatics at the University of Gdańsk as a Pole from Lithuania, I was called “Russian” in the dormitory – said in an interview with zw.lt Vilija Tulickaitė, who was awarded in the field of culture by the President of the Gdańsk City.
How long have you been living in Pomerania?
In Gdańsk I have been living for 12 years. Already or perhaps I should say only? Time passed quickly, and I managed to do a lot for the city and its inhabitants. I came to study informatics at the University of Gdańsk as a Pole from Lithuania, I was called “Russian” in the dormitory. Fortunately, quite quickly I managed to break the stereotypes and explain to other students that not every foreigner from the east is Russian. I am breaking stereotypes to this day, because wonders never cease, I still meet people who do not know that Lithuania is not equal to Russia. But never mind …
I came to Poland full of optimism, optimism which I still possess and try to promote among locals. I also show people that they can and must act socially. You just must want to! This allows you to realize your dreams, be fulfilled and most importantly help others. Currently, I am the coordinator of the Digital Archive of Pomeranian Borderlanders (www.capk.pl). The archive is a collection of 50 accounts of people who after 1945 came to the Tri-City from Previous Eastern Borderlands. Most of the relationships was created in collaboration with the youth – a way to connect generations. Older people have the opportunity to tell how proceed their way to the Tri-City, what they had left at their family home and what they had taken with them, what they miss, what they have done in their new homes, we also ask about the sense of belonging to the country … I encourage everybody to familiarize themselves with our archive collections, as well as to share their stories. CAPK is a project that was created thanks to the idea of the President of of the Pomerian branch of Vilnius and Vilnius Land Society -Mrs. Bożena Kisiel. By the way Mrs Bożena is an extraordinary person who can motivate and engage everybody to act. My dear mother and Mrs. Bożena are my driving force.
Don’t you miss Vilnius? I understand that you are associating your future with Poland …
I have always dreamed to live in Poland. It was a huge dream of a little girl. It worked! I live, I work, I develop myself. After graduation I tried to return to Vilnius, I was working, but the longing for Poland prevailed. Well, I fell in love. Love for Poland was the main reason I stayed. Vilnius I miss very much and probably I always will. From this love, the love to my city, I will never heal and I even do not want to. Vilnius is like a magnet – attracting you and never letting go. Gdańsk is the city where I work and where I created a family, I feel respect toward it. Vilnius is my home, and home is always the best, the warmest, the most welcoming, the most … At home you can hide and forget about your worries. People from the former borderlands, with whom I had the pleasure to interview, sometimes also were not able to explain who they are and to which country they belong. I think that a man can seek his place to live for the entire life.
You act socially, but from what I know you also sing with the band.
It’s hard to call it singing. I call it reciting connected with the music. I have been in the band Lipi & Czemuś for three years. I was involved with the band by accident. One day Tomek Lipi Lipski asked me to teach him reading his poems in Lithuanian. Tomek except being a man very socially involved, also creates poetry, which had been translated into Lithuanian. I found that the appropriate method of learning will be listening to the recordings in Lithuanian, so I recorded myself reading his poems. Next it all happened so fast. We recorded our debut album “Prisoner of Love” / “Meiles kalinys” with my voice participation. We took part in many concerts and played, among others, at the festival “Metropolis is OK”. This year during “the Festival of Flounders” we were also in the recording studio “Radio Gdańsk”. Currently, we are looking for the opportunity to play in Lithuania because our songs are Polish-Lithuanian. They allow to combine the audience from both of these countries. You can listen to us on YouTube or purchase our CD. You can also find us on Facebook.
Recently was held Vilnius Festival in Gdańsk, what do you think about such initiatives? Do they connect people? Can you learn more through them?
Vilnius Festival in Gdańsk is a great initiative, as well as taking place a few days later, “Gdańsk Days in Vilnius”. Do they connect people? It’s hard for me to answer this question but I know for sure that they show and make people realize. I was positively surprised by the attendance at this year’s festival. I will brag that our Society stall was crowded as ever. Now, we are in the process of creating the Book of Gdańsk Citizens of Previous Borderlands.
A few days ago you received the Award of the President of the Gdańsk City in the field of culture, did you expect it?
It was a huge surprise for me. Absolutely, I was not expecting the award. I was so busy with the organizational matters of the 25th anniversary Jubilee of the Society, that when the president of the City of Gdańsk Paweł Adamowicz said that in a moment he would have a “linguistic riddle” and began to pronounce my name, I thought it was a joke. However, it was not a joke, but my first in life award for the achievements in the field of culture for the City of Gdańsk. It is an honor and great distinction. I thank the President for appreciating my work.
Translated by Katarzyna Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.