OCTOBER 10TH, 2015
For everyone interested in other cultures, languages and exploring their own immigrant roots a new kind of festival will arrive this fall in the United States: Polish Bilingual Day, celebrated on the third weekend of October each year.
The festival, created by the Polish Educational Foundation Dobra Polska Szkola from New York (Eng. A Good Polish School) and organized in conjunction with Polish schools and Polish organizations, aims to establish itself as an annual event in the calendar of Polish-American affairs across America. Polish Bilingual Day events are cofinanced by Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the proposal “Cooperation with Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad in 2015.”
The idea behind the festival is threefold: to celebrate the speaking and preservation of the Polish language and culture in Polish-American communities, to encourage the new generations of Polish-American children to learn and invest in the functional knowledge of the language of their ancestors and to reach out to everyone who is interested in all things Polish: past, present and future.
While the past is better known — highlighted by the role of Polish military heroes in the American Revolutionary War, and more recently by the tragedy Poland endured first under the Nazis, then the Soviet occupation — Poland’s present remains less obvious and understood. For many Americans it is still summed up by the two famous names: that of Lech Walesa, the anti-communist opposition leader and John Paul II, the first Polish pope.
Meanwhile, Poland has changed dramatically over the last quarter of the century. After the fall of the Soviet block it embarked on a remarkable journey to catch up with the rest of the democratic world. It is now a country with a fresh face, a nation ambitiously seizing new opportunities, and a member of the European Union for over a decade. Its former prime minister currently presides over the European Council, a deserved nod to the Polish economy, which, in spite of recent economic downturns on both sides of the Atlantic, has sustained one of the strongest growth patterns among all European countries. Poland’s art and culture flourish while its rich history speaks through many new endeavors to invite people from all over the world to come and experience it for themselves.
Finally, the festival will celebrate the achievements and contributions of Polish-Americans and their impact on American life and history.
True to its name, the events of the Polish Bilingual Day will be conducted “bilingually”, with fun and educational activities available both in Polish and English. Guests will have a chance to sample Polish food, dance, music, art, history, movies about Poland or directed by prominent Polish-born film directors, fun facts about Poland and Polish-Americans, a puppet theater for children and also to connect with people and organizations who advocate for the Polish interests in the United States. Experts on bilingual education will invite everybody to talks on the benefits of being bilingual and rising bilingual children.
Dobra Polska Szkola hopes that the Polish Bilingual Day will be celebrated by everyone who is interested in „all things Polish” or multiculturalism and multilingualism in their countries. It also should give a chance to the Polish schools abroad to present and share with their communities their achievements, accomplishments and initiatives.
This year the Polish Bilingual Day will be celebrated in six Polish schools in the U.S.: in New York (NY), Copiague (NY), Mahwah (NJ), Wallington (NY), Boston (MA) and Denver (CO). For detailed programs in each of the schools please click the icon on the leftside menu.
We invite Polish communities from all over the world to follow this year’s events and to become inspired to join in the celebrations next year. Everybody is invited to participate in this year’s events — for details please visit the page of the chosen city by clicking on the leftside menu. The entry is free.
Mark your calendar today: Polish Bilingual Day, October 10th 2015.
POLISH BILINGUAL DAY OFFICIALLY DECREED DURING A CEREMONY IN THE CONSULATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND IN NEW YORK
On Sunday, September 13th 2015, the Polish Bilingual Day was officially decreed during a special ceremony in the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in New York. The event gathered many prominent guests: members of the Polish government, representatives of the Polish-American societies, members of various Polish-American organizations and businesses, artists, scientists, Polish-American families and a special guest from Poland – the project’s honorary patron, professor Katarzyna Klosinska who is the secretary of the Council of the Polish Language at the PAN Institute in Warsaw. Katarzyna Klosinska is the author of many books and publications on the Polish language, and a host of a weekly radio program “Co w trawie piszczy?” (Eng.: “What’s going on in our language?”). Another distinguished Polish patron of the Bilingual Day, professor Jan Miodek, who could not attend the celebration in person, sent a video recording about the benefits of bilingualism for an individual as well as for the community.
“Bilingualism is an extraordinary gift that enriches our personality and broadens our horizons, it helps us solve problems in everyday life, it turns us into more creative and resourceful people, while strengthening the connections between the two countries we call our home. The idea behind celebrating the Polish Bilingual Day is to remind all Polish people living outside of Poland the importance of the Polish language in their life and how crucial it is to pass it on to the next generations,” said the authors of the Bilingual Day in a special declaration signed during the ceremony by the Polish Consul in New York, Mrs. Urszula Gacek and the President of the Dobra Polska Szkola Foundation, Mr. Andrzej Cierkosz.
Mrs. Urszula Gacek, who was born and raised in Great Britain, spoke of the benefits of bilingualism based on scientific research. “It’s the very training in being a bilingual person that our Polish-American children receive in their homes and Polish schools that in the future will allow them to learn other languages much faster and much more efficiently,” said Mrs. Gacek.
One of the editors of the Dobra Polska Szkola and a person who put forth the idea of establishing the Polish Bilingual Day, Eliza Sarnacka-Mahoney, emphasized that it is the immigrants, first and foremost, who are the everyday ambassadors of their countries abroad.
The second part of the ceremony was reserved for fun activities and special performances. Professor Katarzyna Klosinska invited everyobody to play language detectives and check their knowledge of the Polish language through a special language quiz. As it turned out not everyone was aware of the fact, that the word całowac (Eng. kiss) derives from the adjective cały (Eng. whole), which in the Old Polish meant healthy. A popular Polish expression puścić perskie oko (Eng. to wink in a Persian way) is associated with a popular insect repelling product from the late 1800s which was sold in Krakow. “Language is an essential tool to explore the world,” said Mrs. Klosinska, and added: “The examples I gave here today prove how tightly our language and our culture are interrelated and how the language influences the way we perceive and interpret the world around us.”
A young Polish-American singer from Maspeth, NY, Paulina Nowakowski performed a popular ballad “Alleluja” by L. Cohen, and finally, a children’s choir led by by Bożena Konkiel of the Kobo Music Studio sang a special good bye with the official song of the Polish Bilingual Day entitled “Trzy ważne słowa” (Eng. Three Important Words). The song (both music and lyrics) was written by a Polish musician and film director Piotr Rudziński.
The ceremeny gathered many Polish-American families and children. Among the guests was the author of the beautiful logo for the Polish Bilingual Day Beata Ślązak-Zalewski, an artists from Ridgewood in New York.
Marta Kustek, the Editor-In-Chief of the Dobra Polska Szkola website could not hide her joy that the event created an opportunity for all the DPS editors, who live and work both in the U.S. and Poland, to meet in person for the first time.
Lidia Russell, Eliza Sarnacka – Mahoney
Zdjęcia: Andrzej Cierkosz
The first Polish Bilingual Day is organized by the foundation DOBRA POLSKA SZKOLA in partnership with EDUKACJA DLA DEMOKRACJI and co-sponsored by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the project: “Working Together With Polish Communities Abroad 2015”. It is sponsored in the U.S. by The Platta Law Firm.