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  • Writer's pictureElzbieta Gozdziak

Celebrating diversity in Poznań

Elżbieta M. Goździak reports on Diversity Days in Poznań

Those of you who follow our research, know that in addition to interviews with different actors, we also conduct lots of participant observations. In May, I observed two events connected with the UN Day for Cultural Diversity.

Held every year on 21 May, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development highlighs not only the richness of the world’s cultures, but also the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development.

In Poznań, the Faculty of Neophilology organized two days of celebrations under the title of Days of Cultural Diversity, which included a series of workshops and lectures.

On May 21, 2023, in the local Botanical Gardens, Poznań residents and guests were able to learn or simply observe a traditional Korean dance with fans or Western classical ballet or learn how to play the French game of boules.

Lots of young people and families with children attended this event.

The following day, in the comforts of Collegium Novum, there were lectures and presentations on the influence of Western cultures on contemporaray Arabic language, on Spanish architecture, and many more. These were attended mainly by students.

While I didn't talk to many people at either event, just observing and eavesdropping indicated that the participants were mainly Poles interested in different countries and cutural traits. I wonder if the organizers reached out to the local migrant communities.

On May 31, 2023, the Regional Center for Social Policy in collaboration with the Poznań Voivodhip Marshal Office also held a day-long event to celebrate the growing diversity in our city. The event included statements by many bureaucrats, including a representative of the law enforcement who talked about human trafficking... Not sure how that fit into a discussion of diversity.

There was also a representative of a public library in a smaller town in the voivodship who talked about how the library mobilized assistance to Ukraininans following the Russian invasion of the country. Sadly, he never mentioned any othe rinitiatives the library might have organized to recognize the growing differcity of smaller Polish towns. I would have wanted to to hear something about family literacy, story times, and any other events aimed at integrating newcomers into the local community.

The last part of the event included a session organized by the Center for Integration of Foreigners (Centrum Integracji Cudzoziemców) that featured several migrants--from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine, among other countries--who work for the Center or are affiliated with it, talking and showing slides about their migration to Poland. The concept focused on being a neighbor. It was a nice concept, but left me somewhat uneasy. As a migrant myself, I always cringe when migrants and refugees' lives are condensed to their migration story... As I mentioned, many of the speakrs were staff members of the Center for Integration of Foreigners and could have also talked about their professional activities aimed at assisting and integrating migrants into the wider Polish society.

I plan on observing these events in the years to come to see if anything changes.We have a long way to go...

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