- January 22, 2018
Regina Markiewicz: Polishness begins in the family
“If parents send their child to Polish school, if they have the internal need to do that, Polishness will survive. If we do not bring up a future parent in school, we will fail to implement the spirit and eventually lose” – says Regina Markiewicz, the Head of the Self-Government Education Department of the Šalčininkai region, a laureate of the 2017 “Pole of the Year” Award. We talked with the winner during the final gala of the plebiscite.
How is it like to become Pole of the Year?
It was a huge excitement that I found myself among such respected company. It was a surprise to me that it was me, a teacher from the Šalčininkai region, who won the plebiscite.
Why do you think people voted for you?
Education is known to everyone, our work is visible to everybody. We do our best to work in the local government so as not to hurt anybody, so that all children would be equally happy, so that everyone would be close to school and it would be available to either a child with special needs or a talented one.
The title is certainly also an obligation.
Certainly. As a national minority we are always watched, always have to think what to say and in what manner, so that no one will feel offended by our words. I think that this year will be special for me – I have to meet the expectations, since people trusted me and they voted for me so numerously. I will do my best.
What is the current situation of education in the Šalčininkai region?
We kept all gymnasiums, all secondary schools were accredited on time. Currently we have 15 gymnasiums in the area, 8 of them with Polish language of instruction. 2 gymnasiums are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, 13 – the local government of the Šalčininkai region. We have 6 primary schools, 10 kindergartens, one multi-functional center and 4 schools running extracurricular activities.
Education is probably the most important factor for maintaining Polishness in Lithuania. How do you assess these perspectives – will Polishness survive here?
A lot depends on us, Poles in Lithuania. 80% of residents in the Šalčininkai region declare their Polish nationality. 57.7% of the total number of children in the area go to Polish schools. If parents send their child to Polish school, if they have the internal need to do that, Polishness will survive. If we do not bring up a future parent in school, we will fail to implement the spirit and eventually lose. It’s a collaborative work. We should be respected citizens of our country, we love Lithuania very much, but we must certainly remember our nationality.
What does it mean for you to be Polish in Lithuania?
I was born and grew up in a Polish family, where we spoke Polish and were brought up in the Christian faith. I studied at a Polish school. During my studies at the Pedagogical University in the Lithuanian group, I was the only Polish, all my friends knew about it and we respected each other very much. My colleagues from those student years arrived today to congratulate me as well.
Is it sometimes difficult to be Polish in Lithuania?
It is not difficult. One has to live normally, be a loyal citizen of their country and must not lose their national dignity. Know who you are, and others will respect you.
Translated by Katarzyna Kądziołka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.