• September 21, 2019
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We create a positive image of the Lithuanian Poles

“Vilnius connects us” was the slogan of this year’s Second World Congress of Vilnius Poles [Polish: Wilniuk, TN], which took place from 6th to 8th September in Vilnius. The event enjoyed honorary patronage of the Speaker of the Polish Senate, Stanisław Karczewski.

We see how important this congress is for the Poles who have lived here, who were born or have their roots here, or are just now finding them, and they all meet here, connecting Poland and Lithuania. They connect people who have once left and those who still live here. They want to cultivate and share Polishness – said Marshal Karczewski during a short press conference at the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius.

Three days of concerts

During three days, residents and guests of the Lithuanian capital had the opportunity to learn about Polish culture created in the Vilnius region and in Poland.

– Through this type of ventures, we create a positive image of a Pole in Lithuania. This is a very difficult task, because the implementation is accompanied by a lot of logistics. We must ensure safety, and there is always a risk of bad weather. There is constant stress that due to rain or heat something will go awry – says Władysław Wojnicz, chairman of the Congress Organizing Committee to ‘Kurier Wileński’.

During the festival of Polish culture, one could see the musical performance ‘Hemar. Carrot Diary’, put up by the Musical Theater in Toruń, and the exhibition ‘Interwar MotoVilnius. In the footsteps of the first motorcycle rallies’. The culmination of the three-day event was Wilniuk’s Day at the Town Hall Square, where, among others, actress Joanna Moro, singer Katarzyna Zvonkuvienė and the band Folk Vibes performed. The star of Saturday evening was Piotr Rubik, who performed together with choristers of Polish bands from the Vilnius region. The congress ended on Sunday with a meeting with contemporary Vilnius Poles known outside the country, and a ‘Pawlik/Moniuszko Jazz’ concert.

Does Vilnius need the Congress?

The organizers would like the World Congress of Vilnius Poles to become a regular event. – I think that conventions should take place every 2-3 years. This would be the best option. On one hand, it would still be a big event for the people, on the other – we could prepare it properly: make up a program and mobilize the people, our bands and our artists. And properly encourage our compatriots from abroad – emphasizes Władysław Wojnicz.

According to the chairman of the Organizing Committee, one question must be answered: is such an event needed by the Vilnius community and does it pass the test? – If so, then we should create the initiative team and the honorary committee, and we should start building everything from the beginning, just like we did with the First World Congress of Vilnius Poles.

Not in a hurry. We had a year to start with an idea. We had a year of time to create a team that made it possible to put on a huge eight-day festival with a large number of events. I believe that at that time it was a great success not only as a strictly Polish celebration, it was also a success for our brand image. Poles were the only ones able to organize a large event under the Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009 project. We have created the largest, the most successful, the most popular and widely promoted by the Lithuanian media event. We managed to overcome the myth that Poles have some territorial claims. We have proved that, just like other residents of the Lithuanian capital, we love Vilnius. We have proved that we care primarily about promoting our legacy because our ancestors built this city and its prosperity – Wojnicz joyfully recalls the success.

How to choose a date?

Among the organizers, there are also discussions regarding the date of the Congress. The first Congress took place in the first half of August and this year’s – at the beginning of September.

– For now, we are looking for an optimal date. Summer is a graceful date due to holidays and people being able to travel with their families. However, there are also some difficulties. We will definitely be thinking about the date, which is also appropriate in terms of the arrivals of people from abroad – the organizer explains.

The initiative of the Second World Congress of Vilnius Poles was co-financed through the Polish Senate’s programme for the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad, in cooperation with the ‘Help for Poles in the East’ Foundation [Polish: Pomoc Polakom na Wschodzie, TN].

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

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