FLEX Alumni from Poland took part in the project “Youth for Peace: 100 Years after World War I, 100 Ideas for Peace”, which took place in Berlin from November 14 to 18. The project unites 50 young adults from the Western Balkans with young adults from the European Union to “discuss topics like war and peace together as part of an international, intercultural meeting”. Participants were tasked with creating ideas to maintain peace in Europe, and on November 18, the participants then presented their ideas to the President of France and the Federal President of Germany at the closing ceremony.

Barbara Szpilka ’18 (Swidnica, Poland/Mount Pleasant, MI) recalls her impressions from the meeting: “I’m glad I had a chance to go to this conference and met many open-minded people who really care for the problems our world is facing. It inspired me to make a change and I realized that even though our personal stories related to the First World War are slightly different, we all want to ensure peace and international cooperation.”

Zuzanna Nowak ‘18 (Kety, Poland /Cartersville, VA) felt inspired by the conference and organized an impactful initiative in the city of Bielsko-Biala in Poland. She presented the play ‘Kiev, Dar’ at the Aquarium culture cafe to raise awareness about refugees travelling to Europe, with the support of a grants from the Alumni Mentoring Program in Poland and financial contributions from local businesses and Civic Initiative WITAJ.

Zuzanna ‘18 describes the concept of the play in a few words: “There was a big, orange, inflated boat, around which, the activists, remaining silent, put down around some bright safety vests. It symbolized the refugees who cross the Mediterranean Sea in hope to find shelter in Europe. Next, a few people held up banners saying, “Refugees Welcome” and “Stop War, Help People”. Meanwhile, one of the activists shared information about problems that refugees currently face.” Zuzanna ‘18 skillfully prepared the project draft, contacted the café at which the event took place, coordinated the volunteers, organized the accommodation for the actors and director and promoted the event through social media.

Changes do not come straight away from the highest governmental institutions, they rise from such local community initiatives. FLEX Alumni Poland are demonstrating how they can apply their knowledge into something equally impactful and inspiring!

 Andrzej Nowicki ‘16