Voices from Poland: The Polish Minority Perspective

Project Overview

A collection of reflections and stories told from the perspective of Poland’s many national and ethnic minority groups.

Identifying the Problem

The Polish Ministry of Interior recognizes nine national and four ethnic minority groups in the country. However, Daniel and David were shocked by the staggering lack of awareness among Polish people about the existing national and ethnic diversity on Polish soil. They believed it was important for the many voices of Poland to be heard, not only so that the larger community could learn about the many national and ethnic groups within the country’s borders, but so that members of each group could contribute their own memories and experiences to the history of Poland.

Creating A Solution

Daniel and David decided to develop “Voices from Poland,” an oral history project that encompasses Polish’s great diversity. They wanted to travel throughout Poland and interview people from all of the country’s national and ethnic groups. They also wanted to include interviews with academic experts on the various subsections of Poland’s population.

Once the team had fine-tuned the plan for their project, they submitted a funding proposal to Humanity in Action Poland and the United States Embassy in Warsaw. After successfully raising the money to cover the costs of the project, most of which related to travel and lodging, Daniel and David planned their itinerary. The itinerary included conducting interviews in the Polish cities of Warsaw, Wroclaw, Punsk and Kruszyniany.

Daniel and David collected nearly one hundred interviews during their journey across Poland. Their collection of interviews includes conversations with members of, and experts on, each of the country’s national and ethnic minority groups. Those interviewed were excited to be a part of the oral history project, and contributed important insight into the diversity of the Polish experience. Daniel and David were welcomed into the communities and homes of Polish people from all backgrounds, and learned stories of survival, difficulty with integration, perseverance and hope.

The team then transcribed many of the interviews, in both Polish and English, and incorporated them into a printed booklet. The oral history project is also available online, giving Poland’s national and ethnic minority groups a stronger web presence. Daniel and David are working to ensure that all of the interviews they conducted are included on the website.

Lessons Learned

“Voices from Poland” was a big idea, and Daniel and David spent much time working to limit the scope of the project. They knew they could not include everything or everyone, and instead made a concerted effort to choose specific groups to focus on during the duration of the project. They are glad they made this decision, and would recommend a similar strategy to anyone else whose initial idea may seem overwhelming at first.

Funding

In order for this project to be successful, Daniel and David needed to raise $1,000, which would cover their travel costs, voice recorders and publication costs. They received the necessary funding from Humanity in Action Poland and the United States Embassy in Warsaw.

Awards & Recognition

“Voices from Poland” was recognized as an extraordinary Senior Fellow project at the Fourth Annual Humanity in Action International Conference, held in Warsaw.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Poland Poland 2010

Developed by:

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