The beginning of October in Krasnogruda is a time when the surroundings of Milosz Manor, the park and roads leading to neighboring villages, slowly return to their natural rhythm. Summer literary meetings, lectures and concerts with Klezmer music give way to the developing autumn. The local “Song of Porcelain” café opens its doors not to numerous groups of visitors from different parts of the world, but to individual mushroom pickers and cyclists, who were brought to Krasnogruda by chance. This is also the moment when Milosz Manor can become a space for meetings organized by people not directly connected with the Borderland Center.
At the beginning of October, a Polish-Lithuanian seminar “Hear the Other” took place in Krasnogruda, over which hung a serious crisis of the borderland, the drama of our migration and multiculturalism policy. Anna Fedas, one of the originators and organizers of the whole project, told me about the origins of the seminar, the reasons for organizing such a meeting in this particular place:
The idea of organizing Lithuanian-Polish seminar on intercultural dialogue “Hear the Other” has been in our minds for quite some time, and it emerged exactly during one of the online meetings in summer 2020. Together with Lithuanian operator of Active Citizens Fund, we found out that Polish and Lithuanian NGOs don’t have many opportunities to meet, to get to know each other, or to exchange experiences. Since we both, together with Sandra Adomavičiūtė (the director of the Active Citizens in Lithuania program on behalf of Atviros Lietuvos fondas), knew and trusted the work of the Borderland Foundation and had visited Krasnogruda and Sejny many times, we decided that there was no better place for a meeting of Lithuanian and Polish NGOs to discuss different methods of conducting intercultural dialogue. We wanted to organize our meeting around this topic, but along the way there were tragic political events in Belarus, and now we have the topic of the humanitarian crisis on the Belarusian-Lithuanian-Polish border. So, organizing this seminar we knew that we would not lack difficult subjects to talk about…
On the first day of the meeting, when we all gathered together for the first time to sit together in a circle in the Krasnogruda Hall of Return and start the meeting, Sandra Adomavičiūtė spoke about the seminar project in a similar way. Sandra recalled the thought of Irena Veisaitė, her conviction that the work of the Borderland Center and the Krasnogruda space are primarily utopian projects – and utopian not in the sense of building an unreal, impossible vision of the world, but rather in the sense of creating an alternative horizon for being and thinking. The organizer also told me about the ideas of the seminar after the event:
In the framework of Active Citizen fund Lithuania, one of our country’s priorities is to strengthen intercultural integration primarily looking at the ethnic minorities. Open Lithuania foundation dedicated this year to emphasize intercultural integration, and more precisely , intercultural dialogue. Once we got strong support from Stefan Batory foundation and since Anna Fedas also had gone through magic experience in the Borderland center in Krasnogruda, where intercultural dialogue thrives in its own beauty, we decided to bring civil society actors who deal with this issue from Lithuania and Poland. To reflect our values, to review the challenges of intercultural dialogue in Lithuania and Poland in times of division, to share experiences and generate ideas that could be mutually adopted by Belarusian, Lithuanian and Polish practitioners : these were our expectations.
The title of the seminar “Hear the Other” was chosen primarily to reflect the challenges that face the target groups of the civil society organizations that participated in the seminar: national/ethnic minorities, migrants, people of other cultures. Still, this training exercise of „Hear the Other“ resonates more and more in our polarized and fragmented societies we live in now. It is difficult to find a space or even opportunity to talk to someone who thinks or behaves differently, not to mention constructive dialogue.
In this Small Center of the World – Krasnogruda and Sejny – with its rich and tense history, diverse ethnic background and stories, where natural relations of coexistence and solidarity are being experienced every day, we gathered 30 representatives of civic organizations from Lithuania and Poland. They spent 4 intensive days, seeking inspiration, establishing new partnerships and gaining new practical ideas. I do hope that the established contacts, the informal network will further build invisible bridges, and will seek to respond to the leitmotif that constantly sounded during the seminar – how to break stereotypes in our very homogeneous societies, how to hear the other.
Earlier, at the very beginning of the evening, the guests and visitors of the seminar were greeted by Małgorzata Sporek-Czyżewska and Krzysztof Czyżewski, the hosts of Milosz Manor. Czyżewski then talked about the meeting place, the Room of Return, which usually begins the story of Czesław Miłosz and Krasnogruda, a place we return to, because as the inscription on the porch of the manor reads, “Woe to him who sets out and does not return”. (Oskar Miłosz). He aVardagesso talked about a borderland, a land which is common, connects people of different languages living together, a land with borders going inside rather than outside – it is not a borderline but a borderland. Finally, he also invoked the metaphor of a bridge, crucial in a borderland, and perhaps also crucial in the face of the Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian border crisis. In his words, a good bridge is not only the art of reaching the other side, but also the art of return, including the return to ourselves, which we have forgotten today.
The reflection on the border and borders, their role in understanding culture, creating a multicultural world open to listening to the Other hung over the whole seminar for me, updating itself with each workshop, with each story. It stayed with me for the rest of the evening as guests and visitors from different parts of our neighbourhood introduced themselves in different languages and words.
The opening day of the seminar ended with a trip to Sejny, where musicians from the Sejny Theatre Klezmer Orchestra were waiting for us in the former yeshiva building opposite the White Synagogue. In the hall of today’s Sejny Jazz Cooperative we could hear traditional Klezmer themes, opening a story about Jewish Sejny, about a town which used to be a shtetl but today there is not a single Jew left in it. The lively music was interwoven with the story of the double bass player, Michał Moniuszko. He talked about the course of traditional rituals of Central European Jews, about their most important holidays, about what and when klezmers played, for example during wedding ceremonies – which then lasted for several days in a row. The musicians performed forms which accompanied the bride leaving her family home, forms which were songs of passage. Klezmer musicians recalled traditional nigunim, but above all they recalled traditional Jewish dances of a tangled, multicultural tradition. Finally, when the bride and groom were chosen from among the guests of the seminar, the entire hall also began to dance, enacting the first dance of a Jewish wedding.
The second day of the seminar opened with visits to the studios of Milosz Manor. Ksenija Konopek hosted us among the flora and fauna of the Krasnogruda park, in her workshop, where she inked local plants on paper, collected a list of species of creatures living nearby, and looked at the smallest ones under a microscope. Ksenija also showed us the bird atlas that she co-created with the youngest participants of her classes, because it is on working with children that her workshop is mainly based. It is from her workshop that meetings with naturalists, foresters and researchers who deal with each of the tiniest elements of the nature that surrounds us in the dwarf world come out. The workshop with Ksenija was a reminder of another possibility for storytelling about place, yet another method for dialogue with otherness. After her story we went to the park, to a nearby meadow, to pick one of the plants and then print it on paper. The thinnest stems and the most magnificent of leaves, withered flowers and remnants of roots formed surprisingly beautiful ink shapes. A dozen collected plants built a small world that stops time and gives it a different form with the help of a simple, creative method.
After the workshop with Ksenija, we moved on to another of Krasnogruda’s studios. Małgorzata Sporek-Czyżewska told us about Silva Rerum, a project she is implementing together with the inhabitants of neighbouring villages – Żegary, Dusznica, Krasnogruda. This work refers to the ancient tradition of household books. Silva rerum, or the forest of things, was a form that was supposed to contain the family’s memory, a kind of a common diary collecting the tiniest events from home life. And so, the participants of the project collect stories from their own homes and neighbourhoods. As part of the workshop, they travel to various places in Poland to look at archives and learn how to work with history and memory, and how to give them a living form. One of the rooms in Dwór Milosz is devoted to this kind of Krasnogruda, which was told by the neighbours and residents – after all, it is thanks to their stories that the actual, original shape and image of the manor has been recreated. Small models of the surrounding houses hang there on thin threads, creating another small neighbourhood cosmos.
Wiesław Szumiński, who introduced us to his exhibition on Old Believers in Sejny, talked about memory in a different way. From his story emerged a picture of a minority that, although it was always buried among the surrounding hills and rivers, in beautiful places at the foot of lakes, has been almost completely forgotten today. The memory of Old Believers returned clearly and dramatically only last year, when in Białogóra, in the place of the community cemetery, the construction of an agritourism was started and bones and human remains were dug up. Old Believers’ cemeteries, places usually administratively designated here as recreational plots, may seem like empty, unoccupied land. In the customs and beliefs of this minority, the cemetery is something completely different than in the Catholic tradition; it is a space which should rather not be interfered with by man, a space ordered by laws distant from those governing the fate of living people. Wiesław Szumiński’s work, crowned with the exhibition and the story about Old Believers, would thus consist, as it seems to me, in searching for and cultivating traces of the memory of this minority. The exhibition is in fact a photographic documentation of such traces, with images of crosses and graves, symbols often overgrown, completely blurred in the surroundings. The artist searched for such places, reached them and documented them, in a sense, surrounding them with care and memory. Szumiński’s photographs were displayed in the upper room of the former yeshiva, the brightest of the rooms in the building, where light streams in through over a dozen huge windows. There, next to the photographs of cemeteries, hang linocuts, representations of Old Believers, which were made by children during workshops in the Sejny workshop. The Sunday workshop was primarily about working with memory, which uses local resources, looking for its form and language in what is closest, hidden deep rather than far away.
After these stories from Sejny and Krasnogruda, the time came for presentations and discussions on the work of the participants of the seminar itself. After the meeting with Wiesław Szumiński, the guests had some time to present the activities of the organisations they belong to, the problems they face and their local challenges often connected with the phenomena of multiculturalism, tolerance or migration. Karol Kwiatkowski, vice-president of the International Romani Union, spoke about Rrom p-o Drom – the oldest Roma magazine in Europe. He referred to the situation of the Roma minority in confrontation with the Polish education system, which uses a diagnosis that condemns Roma children in advance to study in special schools. Agnieszka Caban spoke about the organisation Towards Dialogue, which investigates the relationship between the prison system and the Roma minority and works with the memory of the Roma Holocaust. Karina Melnytska presented the activities of the Foundation Ocalenie, which is constantly confronted with new waves of xenophobia and anti-refugee attitudes. Aleksandra Zapolska argued how important programmatic activity is in work focused on protecting minorities – in this case, the Ukrainian minority. She described the structures of cooperation between voivodeship administration and minority organizations. The “Neighbourhood Circle ”, the name of one of the programmes she co-creates, opened a discussion among the participants about the language and names in which one can conduct one’s activity, and became an inspiration. Emilija Rusteikaitė spoke about the problems with sexual violence against Lithuanian women, with forced sex work. In response to questions from participants, she talked about “safe places’ ‘ created by the organisation for women who have experienced such violence – about the possibility of assistance in moving or providing a temporary hotel. Vardges Muradyan from the We are for You Foundation recalled various activities of his organisation during the pandemic, which provided the only space for seniors to talk and even metaphorically meet at that time.
The stories of the seminar participants, which I mention here only in fragments, were about the incredibly important and long-term work with the local community. In response to these presentations, other guests and organisation activists prepared inspirations, questions and problems that might arise from the work. This opened up a wide space for discussion, exchange of ideas, experiences and concerns. The busy and rich programme of the seminar may not have allowed for the exhaustion of such a meeting, but it was probably intended above all as a starting point, a beginning of cooperation and blazing new trails. Vardagess, the last of the participants just mentioned, told me about such doubts arising from a whole bunch of positive experiences:
It was a great pleasure to meet all participants from Poland and Lithuania. I am very happy that I had the opportunity to meet so many nice people. It’s a pity that we didn’t have a lot of time to get to know each other better, to get to know more, to hear more about the activities of each organisation – because that’s why we all gathered together to present the activities of an organisation or a foundation. Two minutes is not enough to understand the problems existing in a given organisation and have an idea how to help and what to suggest to this organisation.
The Sunday visit to Sejny ended with a lecture by the director of the Pogranicze Centre, Krzysztof Czyżewski, about his book ‘Small World Centre’. The meeting closed the whole day of talks and discussions concerning small worlds of memory, the work in Sejny and Krasnogruda which nurtures what is the smallest and seemingly unimportant, invisible. It does not stand in the centre and does not seek practice in the largest national and European centres, but rather makes use of what is neighbourly, of the hospitality of the world of communities living together, side by side.
On Monday morning we left Krasnogruda for Maćkowa Ruda, another place prompting reflection on culture, form and art. We visited the house of Andrzej Strumiłło, a painter who died last year and who has always been connected with our region. This unusual habitat, situated right on the banks of the Czarna Hańcza river, opens up into a clearing where unique horses, the artist’s beloved animals and his fascination and passion, were grazing. The courtyard in front of the house, surrounded by a stone wall but also filled with a stone circle, on this autumn sunny day gathered special energy and symbolism. Waiting for us in Strumiłło’s studio was his daughter, Anna Strumiłło, who, among her father’s paintings and sculptures, told us about his life, method and outlook on art or culture. One of the seminar participants, Andrėja Taranda, wrote a poetic tale about this meeting, a concrete experience of the space of Maćkowa Ruda:
It was a warm and sunny Autumn afternoon. We entered Maćkowa Ruda and as for me, every time I came to that place, I felt like in a fairytale. The horses greeted us while we promenaded the alley, the Sun was casting shadows on the various rocks and the wind was gently moving yellow leaves of the trees and pushing us to the direction of the Gallery. Anna Strumiłło was waiting for us under a tree, looking as elegant as ever. She warmly welcomed us, as we entered the Gallery. We took our seats in an oval of chairs, the fireplace was softly cracking in the back. Sitting down, I began to look around at the various art pieces around. For a moment, I glimpsed at a photograph of the late Andrzej Strumiłło’s eyes, then at the paintings, the little sculptures, the beautiful books and my gaze stopped at creations made of stone: fireplace, walls, table; framing our experience in a cold, strict yet somehow nostalgic and mysterious manner. A. Strumiłlo stopped in the centre of the first third of the space, crossing her legs gracefully and resting one of her hands on a boulder on top of which little wooden birds were watching us. She began telling the story of her family, how her parents met each other, where they came from and how they settled down here, in a place where archeologists found 1000 years old evidence of a settlement.
Her father was an artist of all sorts: he called himself a painter but also created graphics, illustrations, photographs, sculptures. I feel that everything that he did had an essence of his peinture: strict composition, dark colour palette with tints of metallic, clear visual language containing symbols and hints of Asian and religious influences. One of the sentences from that workshop that keeps ringing in my ears is words by Andrzej Strumiłło: „The medium doesn’t matter, what you want to say does.”. I wrote it down in my notes app and pinned it immediately. As an artist, I found it wonderful how he discovered the world of Asia – he used to tag along with mountain hiker groups yet never hiked. This way, it was cheaper.
Coming back to the stones, it turns out Andrzej Strumiłło believed in the magic of rocks, he collected them and brought them back to his own estate. They have a wardrobe, full of rocks and pebbles and they are categorised by the origin place, his daughter told us.
At a certain point my gaze wandered off to the paintings. I started to analyse the visual language, the symbols, the colours… I felt like I could look at them for hours and still find new mysteries and passageways through the mind and dreams of the author. And then the workshop was over. I quickly glanced at one of the last paintings Andrzej Strumiłło did before his death and the red colour pierced through my heart as I was walking outside to the sunshine.
After lunch in the Vigry post-Camaldolian Monastery we returned to Krasnogruda. There we had a workshop with the Lithuanian Forum Theatre. This time, with the help of performative action, our group was stimulated to think and act on yet another level. The actors acted out scenes of escalating conflicts, arranged conversations, in which differences of opinion quickly made any dialogue impossible. The participants of the seminar were also involved in these activities, it was an open theatre without a clear division between the audience and the actors, who were only supposed to passively observe the events on stage. The short etudes were rather meant to open up discussion, to help in the search for creative ways to meet and talk. The scenes acted out by the actors also dealt with problems that were directly related to the work of the guests gathered at the seminar. This workshop was particularly remembered by one of the participants, Agnieszka Caban:
The workshop with the Forum Theatre from Lithuania was an interesting visual experience, but also a moving example of our experience. The theatre brilliantly illustrated contemporary problems, i.e. the migration crisis, prejudice and discrimination, and involved the audience in trying to solve them.
Krasnogruda evening was crowned by a meeting in the cafe “Song about porcelain” with journalist Ruslan Kulewicz from Grodno, who has a refugee status in Poland. He told us about his experiences in Belarus, the brutal OMON attacks he suffered last year during the protests he photographed. Kulewicz’s story, however, focused primarily on his work with memory, somewhat similar to that constructed in Sejny. In recent years, the journalist has been collecting photographs and stories of the oldest residents of Grodno, creating an archive of his city from the 1930s and 1940s, recalling the multicultural history of the place. He showed pictures of the people he talked to on the screen and turned on films with forgotten songs sung by the oldest residents. Kulewicz also connected Grodno with Bialystok, searched for analogies and drew a framework for transnational understanding. This is yet another story of intimate local memory eventually led to Krasnogruda, to which Czesław Miłosz once travelled along the Grodno road, a road which today is unreal and cut by the weight of a closed border.
The Tuesday day of the seminar started with a return to Sejny. This time the workshops were conducted in the Borderland Centre, in Dom Pogranicze. There Bożena Szroeder, who runs a workshop of animated films and the Sejny Chronicles theatre, talked about this form of working with the memory of the town. She started from the very beginning, from the first performances, from the model of Sejny consisting of clay houses, which was created by the first generation of the Sejny Chronicles. She recalled the first spectacles and the emotion they caused in the oldest inhabitants of Sejny, the grandparents of the actors co-creating the show. This is because it was their stories about the town’s past that made up the show, which continues to be updated with new stories. As she said, today it is the fifth generation of young people who, like the angels in the performance, tenderly guard the memory of Jewish and Gypsy Sejny, pre-war,wounded by the drama of the war. Working with the intimate family memory of the Sejny Chronicles actors were not only about creating the performance, the young people also prepared family cards which made up a game inspired by Herman Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game”. During the workshop with Bożena Szroeder, participants of the seminar also created such cards. Agnieszka Caban told us about her own card. By drawing symbols associated with her, she gave form to her own memory, the memory of her present life and the memory of her family tradition.
The second part of the meeting with Bożena Szroeder concerned the later work of the Sejny Chronicles. Today, apart from the performance, young people are creating animated films based on home stories, Sejny’s multicultural traditions, legends and myths of the town. The difficult and painstaking work of animation was done by the children together with their friends from the group, but then also together with their grandparents, together with their parents. Each of the Borderland Fairy Tales collections dealt with a different sphere of memory and were made under the supervision of artists from different parts of the world. Lesia Shykiriava told me about this part of the seminar:
It was interesting to see how through art one can learn about the history of one’s city; how to involve children and the older generation, i.e. their grandparents, in joint activities and mutual learning. The meeting was held in two parts: in the first part, Bożena Szroeder told us about various workshops held at the Dialogue Centre, about the animation and journalism classes organised for local children… They collect information about their families and then write their own stories in artistic form in small books, like fairy tales, draw the most important events/associations on cards, create animations… We also received such cards and tried to draw in a dozen or so boxes what our history means to us. It was a real challenge and also a moment to reflect on who we are. In the second part we saw animations about cultures, nationalities, religions that are present in the history of the borderland. It is wonderful that in the form of a fairy tale you can tell about different events in the history of the city, especially about the difficult ones, which in the future, precisely, can help to understand cultural differences or historical traumas. It’s nice that after such workshops the work goes out into the world, for example, a book about families and the history of the Borderland is written – The Sejny Chronicles, or it goes to an animation festival, or appears in public in the form of a play. For me it was a very interesting workshop and I am sure it will be useful in my activity.
The rest of the seminar moved back to Krasnogruda, where the next meeting took place in the Return Room of Milosz Manor. There, Victoras Bachmetjevas was waiting with his lecture on the philosophy of politics, which drew, as is often the case within this field, on the thought of Aristotle. As Bachmetjevas said, it is there that we find the conviction that the public interest should take into account the interests of the many, taking into account future generations. Bad governance, bad policy, on the other hand, takes into account only the interests of a narrow group, of those who are in power. In the philosopher’s view, the community itself – civil society – does not want to have power, by definition handing it over to someone else, according to the principle of representation. What is important is what is public and not private, which includes individual desires and problems. “So if civil society does not want knowledge, what does it want in return?”, – Bachmetjevas asked. He argued that it should first and foremost function as an “ambulance” – since it operates at a different rhythm and time than the authorities, it can act more quickly in emergencies and emergency situations. Such a concept and thought seemed to be particularly relevant even in the case of the humanitarian crisis on the Belarusian-Lithuanian-Polish border. On the other hand, however, it probably followed very rigid oppositions, and for me did not quite convincingly dissect the real essence of the private sphere in today’s politics. Bachmetjevas’ philosophy of politics seemed to me to be very pragmatic, adhering to the current world situation, but at the same time not very subversive, critical and not allowing for the search for real alternatives to other politics. Such accusations were probably shared by one of the seminar participants, Karolis Dambrauskas, who asked after the lecture whether civil society presented in this way was not just a convenient management technique used by the authorities. After all, if the civil society performs the function of an “ambulance”, some of the duties that should be performed by the state are transferred to another sphere, blurred. So perhaps this is not a radical enough conception of the philosophy of politics? At the same time, of course, the philosopher’s lecture remained very important to me in the context of the entire seminar, giving it a theoretical breadth, touching on important points that opened up an interesting discussion and allowed for theoretical inspiration. Bachmetjevas’ answer to the question of the place of the agora today was creative and edifying. According to the philosopher, there is not and cannot be a single agora today, and as a real and metaphorical figure for such spaces can be used the basements of houses in Lithuania, where the residential community learns to talk, to live together with others. One of the participants, Ivanka Kyliushyk, also told them about her presence at this meeting:
Viktoras got us thinking about what civil society actually is today, who are the active citizens and what would it be like without them? Viktoras compared civil society to a guard dog and an ambulance. Active citizens are the guardians of society’s rights and interests, without them there would be tyranny, dictatorship. A strong, active and capable civil society is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. It demands the expansion of equality and social freedom, the restructuring and democratisation of state institutions. Active citizens can also be compared to an ambulance. They can self-organise without state action and consciously act to support and meet the needs of community members, they have a sense of responsibility for our common good.
After the lecture we found ourselves in the Krasnogruda amphitheatre, next to the Krasnogruda bridge. There, Krzysztof Czyżewski talked about the Misterium Mostu (Mystery of the Bridge), which takes place every year, about how important it is to give artistic form to joint workshops, joint work with small and minority memory. He recalled this year’s mystery, which was crossed by a fiery line, separating the spectators sitting in a circle from each other, creating a tangible border of division and separation. Czyżewski referred to the present, to the dramatic situation on the Belarusian border, but he also looked ahead, thinking of the future Mystery of the Bridge, which could be created by the group gathered at the seminar together with the Borderland Ensemble, the inhabitants of Sejny and Krasnogruda.
In Krasnogruda amphitheatre the last workshop part of the whole meeting started. On the bridge there were spread sheets of paper with the topics of discussions during the seminar, with challenges faced by organisations dealing with migration, multiculturalism and tolerance (e.g. psychological support for activists on the Polish-Belarusian border or cooperation with schools towards intercultural training). Each of the Krasnogruda visitors had to choose one of the topics and in this way international groups were formed to discuss the problem together and then develop a potential project focused on working with this issue. However, this was not purely a workshop exercise, as all groups are later to receive financial support in realising this initiative.
The last evening of our seminar ended with dinner in the cellars of the manor house, in our cafe “Song about porcelain” . The Krasnogruda guests were farewelled by their hosts, Krzysztof Czyżewski and Małgorzata Sporek-Czyżewska, the same ones who had welcomed them on the first day. The farewell, much less official than the Sunday welcome speeches in the hall of return, but similarly solemn and hospitable, seemed more like an opening of sorts. A beginning which will continue the cooperation between Milosz Manor and the participants gathered at the seminar, building invisible bridges together, and perhaps also that tangible bridge which is built every August in the Krasnogruda amphitheatre.
It is with pleasure that I return my thoughts to Krasnogruda, to Czesław Miłosz Manor with its characteristic red porch, or to the White Synagogue in Sejny, where in early October we had our international Polish-Lithuanian seminar. It’s hard to imagine a better place to talk about intercultural dialogue – in this charming place, especially in the Autumn, in the Polish-Lithuanian borderland, there is something that makes you more open to discuss difficult issues – this is probably its genius loci.
I went to this seminar with a heavy heart, thinking about the current situation on the Polish-Belarusian border and about all the human tragedies that are happening before our eyes, in the face of which we are often powerless. The seminar created a space for me to discuss my concerns with others in an atmosphere of mutual understanding, respect and openness. Not only to hear the other, but also to draw conclusions from what one has heard. Particularly inspiring – apart from the lectures and stories of the hosts of this place, of course – was the fact that we managed to create a common space for future action, for intercultural dialogue in the broadest sense.
I am very happy about my participation in the Polish-Lithuanian seminar. It was an opportunity not only to visit places which are synonymous with the borderland, but also to find myself physically and mentally in it (the borderland). The seminar was an opportunity to meet people who have similar and completely different experiences from mine. Thanks to the presentation of the activity of social organisations from both Poland and Lithuania I got to know not only local problems they deal with, but also new possibilities and methods of activity, which I will use in my organisation. The people I met during the seminar are in constant contact with and even have plans for joint activities, which I am also very happy about.
I want to thank the organisers of this project very much, because I was in the right place. Thank you also very much to all the participants, without you this project would not be the same, so it was wonderful. The project achieved its goal – you integrated a migrant (that is me) into Polish culture and Polish-Lithuanian society. Among you, I did not feel different, I felt I was at home. Thank you for your hospitality, your openness and for everything.
Polish-Lithuanian seminar “Hear the other/other” took place on the 2nd-6th of October in Krasnogruda.
The organisers were the Open Society Foundation in Lithuania (the operator of the Active Citizens programme in Lithuania) and the Stefan Batory Foundation (the operator of the Active Citizens programme – National Fund in Poland). The seminar was hosted by the Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations Centre run by the Borderland Foundation in Krasnogruda.
About the Author: My name is Piotrek Szroeder, I come from Sejny, to which I return every summer. I graduated from Cultural Studies in Warsaw, where I dealt with visual culture, philosophy of sound and music. Today, together with my friends, I co-found the Krasnogruda film studio, and wherever I am, I try to listen a lot.