• December 6, 2016
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Youth of Nemėžis wants to talk about diversity and tolerance

“Students wanted to break stereotypes and talk about issues which, in public eye, are presented in a slightly different light. I think they succeeded. In the film we can see how certain issues – such as national or religious identity – are seen by students themselves. Their outlook is definitely much more positive”, said zw.lt Anna Pawłowicz-Janczys, one of coordinators of a group of Nemėžis youngsters. She realized a film “Different and thus unique” as a part of the project “Gyvenu laisvai”.

The “Gyvenu laisvai” project has been finalized in early November. The aim of the project, which lasted more than a year, is shaping of citizenship among young people of particular ethnic groups, encouraging them to more detailed understanding and development of culture and unique identity of their region. Young people from St. Rafał Kalinowski’s Junior High School in Nemėžis won in the category “Contribution to searching one’s identity” for a film “Different and thus unique”. The main coordinator of the project is a deputy director Jadwiga Pumpaławiczienie and the coordinator – a special educator and methodologist, a senior biology teacher Anna Pawiłowicz-Janczys.

“The main theme of the film Different and thus unique is showing multiculturalism and diversity. Diversity of views, eg. on the identity, is also presented. Nemėžisis a town inhabited by representatives of various nationalities, cultures, religions. All of these groups discuss and work together on a daily basis. Students depicted these relations as they see them: without conflicts or confrontation because of diversity”, said Anna Pawiłowicz-Janczys.

“Different and thus unique” is a 12-minute film, in which students of Polish-Lithuanian St. Rafał Kalinowski’s Junior High School in Nemėžis talk about their identity. They discuss diversity, which they observe every day, and tolerance, which seems to be something natural for them.

The whole film will be available only after the material of the “Gyvenu laisvai” project will be developed and shown on LTR television. A teaser is now available:

“Students in the film talk about whether it is possible to accept different religious views. They talk about how students from mixed families and attending Polish or Lithuanian classes understand their own identity. In the film speaks for example a girl, who considers herself Polish, despite of the fact that at home she speaks in Russian and in school – in Lithuanian; this is not a problem for her”, says Anna Pawiłowicz-Janczys.

Currently the group of youth which realized the movie “Different and thus unique” organizes meetings in other schools, where the video footage of their project is presented. This way they want to encourage people from other schools to participate in the next edition of the “Gyvenu laisvai” project. They also plan a public premiere of the film for the community of Nemėžis, in which a well-known Lithuanian movie director Jonas Ohmanas would participate. Together with a screenwriter Teklė Kavtaradzė he was the main curator of the group during realization of the film for half a year.

“Our role, as coordinators of groups, was organizing meetings with prominent persons, researchers, artist, politicians of Lithuania. The idea and realization of the project was in hands of young people, and we wanted to provide them with the best possible preparation, so they could show how they live and perceive diversity in their environment”, told zw.lt Anna Pawiłowicz-Janzys.

“Students who realized the film Different and thus unique attend a trilingual school. It is normal for them that someone is Polish and someone else – Lithuanian, Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian or Tatar. This is not a problem for them. Even the motto of our school is about tolerance and respect for another human being. Moreover, many festivals, proms, end-of-school balls and meetings are organized altogether by Polish, Lithuanian and Russian communities. There is no division into groups. The project “Gyvenu laisvai” showed that students of Polish and Lithuanian classes were working amicably during realization of the film”, said Anna Pawiłowicz-Janzys.

As a part of the project students of St. Rafał Kalinowski’s Junior High School won the Euroscola contest. The main prize was a trip to Berlin, Brussels and Amsterdam in early December. As Anna Pawiłowicz-Janczys says, during meetings in the European Parliament and the European Union information centre students eagerly shared their experience of multiculturalism, tolerance, of living in a multicultural town. “The Gyvenu laisvai project properly motivated students to talk more openly about their views on otherness, being open to others, sharing their experience and the fact that Nemėžis is well in that respect”, said the coordinator of the project.

In the “Gyvenu laisvai” project participated 5 groups of students. They were students of St. Rafał Kalinowski’s Junior High School in Nemėžis in Vilnius region, Atgimimo Junior High School in Visaginas, J. Śniadecki’s Junior High School in Šalčininkai, Junior High School in Rūdiškės in Trakai region, Žeimena Junior High School in Pabradė in Švenčionys region. They presented their works: 3 films, a spectacle, hiking trails. Presented works were evaluated by a committee of experts. Its members were: a president of the Lithuanian Artists Association Kornelijus Platelis (a chairman), a historian prof. Alfredas Bumblauskas, a film director and producer Arūnas Matelis and a film and theater critic Andrius Jevsejevas.

As a part of realization of the project in five municipalities of East Lithuania: in regions of Vilnius, Trakai, Šalčininkai, Visaginas and Švenčionys creative workshops took place. During workshop there were realized ideas of exposing or breaking identity stereotypes, belonging to a nation, citizenship. Young people had also many opportunities to meet artists and experts from various fields (history, political science, journalism). Issues of national identity, tolerance, multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism were discussed. Young people had the opportunity to meet, have a talk and realize their ideas with V. Bruveris, a journalist and a president of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of History (University of Warsaw, a president of the Lithuanian Union of Journalists D. Radzevičius, a journalist R. Valatka, V. Savukynas, A. Perednis and E. Jakilaitis, J.J. Komar, historians R. Petrauskas, A. Bumblauskas, A. Bubnys, A. Kulakauskas, N. Černiauskas, M. Nefas, a UW professor, a president of the Institute for Employment Research B. Grużewski, a political scientist A. Jakubauskas, artists from various fields, authors: S. Parulskis, M. Ivaškevičius, J. Ohmanas, G. Liaudanskas-Svaras, V. V. Landsbergis, Aistė Smilgevičiūtė, T. Kavtaradzė and others.

The final meeting and awards ceremony were held in the Palace of Lords (Valdovų rūmai). Many guests from higher state institutions arrived, as well as organizers, initiators and sponsors of the project. The final gala was filmed by a TV crew of LRT. The developed program appeared on television on November 26th.

Translated by Agnieszka Drabik within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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