Residents of all ages and nationalities gathered to celebrate Polish history and culture at the first annual Polish Bilingual Day festival at P.S. 71 in Ridgewood on Saturday.
The festival was created by the New York-based educational organization Dobra Polska Szkola Foundation in conjunction with other local Polish schools and groups to celebrate and preserve Polish language and traditions.
The Polish Bilingual Day celebration was spearheaded by Dobra Polska Szkola blog editor-in-chief Marta Kustek. After nearly four years of planning, Kustek received funding from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help launch the first Polish Bilingual Day nationwide. Last month, the Polish government officially declared the second Saturday of October as Polish Bilingual Day, and even added the annual event to its national calendar.
P.S. 71 was chosen as the site of the inaugural Polish Bilingual Day celebration after a chance meeting between Kustek and social studies teacher Barbara Falkowska after the two attended a special meeting for Polish parents organized by Principal Indiana Soto at the school back in June.
“It was just a magic moment,” Falkowska recalled. “We are so proud and happy that we can host the first ever Polish Bilingual Day. I was born and raised in Poland and it makes me happy that we have support from English-speaking parents and students. My English-speaking students worked so hard on projects to promote Poland. We are happy to have everyone here together.”
Some of the students’ projects included posters and three-dimensional displays around the school yard highlighting Poland’s rich history, achievements and contributions to the world. Polish children’s books and literature were also available in an effort to promote the language stateside.
Children from the Polish folk dancing troupe Wianek, clad in traditional costume and floral headdresses, delivered a lively performance of time-honored Polish song and dance. Local Polish artisans and artists from Ridgewood also gathered to vend their handmade creations inspired by Polish folk art. The aroma of traditional Polish dishes such as pierogi filled the air as visitors celebrated and learned about Poland’s rich culture and heritage.
Kelly Marie Mancuso, Queens Courier
Photos: Weronika Kwiatkowska, Andrzej Cierkosz