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The Warsaw Voice » Other » June 25, 2008
America in Poland
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American Students Visit Poland
June 25, 2008 By Ewa Hancock   
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Sixteen children from a school in Washington D.C. visited Poland in June as part of a program that aims to show students from public schools in the United States the culture, customs and history of other countries.

The June 15-27 visit by children from the Anne Beers Elementary School is part of the Embassy Adoption Program which targets sixth-graders in Washington. Over its 34 years it has involved almost 100 embassies working with more than 30,000 children.

The students' visit started with an impromptu performance at Warsaw airport upon landing. To the delight and amazement of other passengers, they sang the popular song "Jedzie poci±g z daleka". On June 17 they performed at the Belweder palace in Warsaw before First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, a patron of the children's Polish visit, ambassadors' wives and many other people who had supported them. The young Americans danced a polonaise and portrayed famous Poles.

Apart from Warsaw, the children visited Toruń, the Mazuria region, Cracow, ¦widnica, Karpacz and Złoty Stok, traveling and giving concerts with their Polish friends from the Serduszka Children's Ensemble from ¦widnica.

In 2006, Hanna Reiter, wife of the Polish ambassador to Washington, Janusz Reiter, oversaw a collaboration project between the Polish embassy and the Anne Beers school. During a year-long educational program the children learned about Poland and prepared a show called Poland the Beautiful, an Imaginary Flight according to a script written and directed by a Polish actress living in the United States, Hanna Bondarewska.

The culmination of their efforts came with a 2007 visit to the Polish embassy in Washington and a performance for Kaczyńska. This was when the idea was born that the children should see the country they had learned about, helped by Kaczyńska, Reiter, Bondarewska and Marek Michalak, who heads the International Committee of the Order of the Smile, which was also a patron of the children's Polish visit. All of them worked on making the trip come true. The Order of the Smile is an international award given to adults for efforts in caring for and helping children.

Seeing the positive effects of the American project, Reiter has decided to start a similar project called Ambassadors of Culture in Poland. It will be a multicultural program of cooperation between Polish schools and the embassies of other countries in Poland.

The initiative is also being supported by the Royal Castle in Warsaw and its educational program Bernardo Bellotto-Ambassador of Culture.

The first step has been taken. Raka Singh, the wife of the Belgian ambassador to Poland, has forged links with a primary school in Anielewo near Konin, central Poland. The children there will learn Flemish and gain an insight into Belgian culture. Reiter hopes that other diplomatic institutions will join the initiative and help children in Poland learn about the culture of other countries.

"This program helps develop children's talents and skills," said Reiter. "Learning about another culture broadens their horizons and builds a special bond between them and the country they learn about. Thanks to this project children can start feeling like citizens of the world."
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