„Patriotism means enjoying the state of freedom”, said Minister Jacek Michałowski, Head of the Chancellery of the President of Poland, during the „Modern Patriotism” project summing-up meeting at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on March 12, 2013.
The objective of the „Modern Patriotism” project is to popularize knowledge of patriotism, shaping proper young people’s attitudes, learning local traditions and national symbols, as well as teaching tolerance and respect for other people. As part of the initiative, between October and July 2012, ministers and advisors at the Chancellery of the President of Poland, acting as Honorary Volunteers, in cooperation with student volunteers participating in the “PROJECTOR – student volunteers’ Program, carried out eleven educational workshop seminars for over 170 pupils from eight schools in villages and small towns. The list of Honorary Volunteers includes the following Ministers: Jacek Michałowski, Head of the Chancellery of the President of Poland, Sławomir Rybicki, Olgierd Dziekoński, Krzysztof Łaszkieiwcz, Irena Wóycicka, Maciej Klimczak and President’s Advisors: Professor Tomasz Nałęcz, Krzysztof Król, Henryk Wujec and Jan Lityński.
President of the Foundation for the Development of Voluntary Service Zdzisław Hofman pointed to benefits for student volunteers and pupils who participated in the project. They started to appreciate their home towns and villages and realized positive aspects of living there. „One young person told me during one of our meetings that he had realized that a patriot needs not be sad, die or fight; that he can be joyful,” he said.
Two discussions were also held with the participation of Honorary Volunteers – Secretary of State Olgierd Dziekoński; Secretary of State Irena Wóycicka; Henryk Wujec; Professor Nałęcz; Professor Anna Giza-Poleszczuk, Vice-President for the Development and Financial Policy at Warsaw University and Chairperson of the Board of the Foundation for the Development of Voluntary Service; Radosław Jasiński, PAFF Program Director; Zdzisław Hofman, President of the Foundation for the Development of Voluntary Service, school representatives and student volunteers.
They discussed their conclusions from the realized project and tried to define modern patriotism. They also tried to answer the question if it is possible to learn to be a patriot and what schools and NGOs can do to channel young people’s patriotism potential. They pointed to the meaning of local patriotism, of volunteers, local authorities, NGOs and schools’ involvement as well as contribution of local leaders who join the activities and help popularize good patriotic practices.
The discussion was summed up by Professor Giza-Poleszczuk: „Our basic task is to create space and atmosphere, where people can talk about their positive feelings connected with community membership and where they can get involved.” She added that „In its basic layer, patriotism boils down to taking care, respect and kindliness for those who are around us, regardless of their views, but also for those, who had lived before we were born.”
At the end of the meeting, 25 student volunteers were handed a diploma and the Honorary Volunteers – photos from their meetings with young people.
The Modern Patriotism project was carried out as part of PAFF’s „PROJECTOR – student volunteers” Program. Its manager is the Foundation for the Development of Voluntary Service in cooperation with ministers and advisors at the Chancellery of the President of Poland. President Bronisław Komorowski took the honorary patronage over this initiative.
The “PROJECTOR – student volunteers” Program is the Polish-American Freedom Foundation’s Program implemented by the Foundation for the Development of Voluntary Service. This Program is aimed at equalizing educational opportunities for children and youth living in rural areas and small towns. Within the Program groups of student volunteers implement in their free time educational projects they have prepared to develop knowledge, skills and interests of children and youth. The Program promotes active attitudes among both school and university students, developing their sense of social responsibility. In the editions of this Program conducted since 2003, over 19,000 educational projects have been conducted in 1,560 schools all over Poland in which more than 7,500 student volunteers took part. The Program was supported by two former prime ministers, Professor Jerzy Buzek and Professor Marek Belka, who, in 2007, took part in summer-vacation activities with school children. Also the network of institutional partners, such as schools of higher education, local authorities and media, was established and now more than 40 institutions belong to it.