A wise man said:
We can’t change the time we are living in; the only think we’re
able to do, is to make the best use of this given time.
Poland and Poles are standing before an important opportunity, letting them choose their future situation for the nearest years or maybe it will change it forever. We recovered from communistic ruling in 1989 and now we’re making steps forward to be as similar as rich, powerful countries and societies of modern West Europe and other free, big, capitalistic states.• We entered NATO in 1999. It established and guaranteed our freedom and safety. That was very important, because as you can see from the history of Poland, we live in a trouble spot, in the strategic centre of Europe and we never had such international security. Many enemies have fought and died here. Besides just ensuring safety and peace, we need to increase the growth of economy constantly, and what follows, develop our standard of living and technology.• Poland has been a member of the European Union since 2004.• We signed up to the Schengen Agreement in 2007.In 1985 one of the most important moves to make life easier for travelers in the EU took place, when the governments of five countries signed an agreement in a small Luxembourg border town called Schengen. By abolishing all checks on people , regardless of nationality, they formed an area without internal frontiers known as the Schengen Area. As Poland finally fulfilled all the criteria for its membership, this already gives Polish citizens a sense of belonging to a single, unified geographic area.
What Has Changed?
Now the democracy is ruling. Thanks to our great inexplicable patriotism, faith and hope we have achieved the status of republic after many years of struggle. Since 1989 people have been trying to adjust themselves to new free lifestyle. These changes are easily visible in our openness, friendliness, sincerity, ideas and ambitions, supported by actions of representative group of us (progressive youths and other Poles). It influenced on mentality of Polish people for better. We are aware of the power of making unforced decisions in every domains of our lives. We finally have felt the true values of living.
Problems of Democracy
Of course, there’re some problems with making progress of our country and in us. The first thing is the mentality of people and fear of unstoppable changes. Many Poles are too conservative. They don’t want to think about the future as well. This is a big mistake. Everyone should be interested in the process of evolving the country because we live in Poland and we owe this land something. There are a lot of intelligent and wise authorities but some of them are not always making clever decisions. It causes creating contradictory policy and changes. But I think this is similar to many democratic states.
As for Youths…
We, pupils, look at the problems from a little different perspective. We’re going through the education reforms and changes of education policy. They’re necessary, but made by two opposite governments. The effect is not satisfying for us. We feel sometimes like rabbits in a lab. If only we were allowed to take the floor in this conversation, we could have influence on the situation. Pupils and students have little power of deciding about the future. Majority of us have got concerns, individual expectations and ideas about changes. I understand that 10-year old child can’t have any idea of self-government, democracy and politics but some of us are already 18, which is the age when Poles are being officially recognized as adults. Hope that will change…
Truly, I think we can’t depend on outstanding theoretics with power. We have to take care of our own very young ideas and our future and can’t be certain about old generation assurances. Pupils’ future depends on their present activities (learning languages, being open, using opportunities to know the world better, listening to real mentors only, gaining knowledge also outside the school). Life taught me that I must have great dreams, be ambitious and listen to those, who have experienced the success. We have such opportunities like nobody else before us had. And we should use them as well as we can.
Updated by Mrs Marzena Kossak-Wąchała and Jakub Znamierowski
/////// STEREOTYPES ///////
Usually people who did not have contact with Poland or Poles do not know anything about it. There are of course some who had such contacts but still have wrong idea of Poles. So we decided to run special responses to some stereotypes of Poles and Poland.The Definition
Stereotype – a fixed idea about a type of person or thing, often untruth, formed on the basis of incomplete or false knowledge.
People are individuals from the time they were born. We aren’t identical, nor in appearance, nor in behaviour, nor in way of thinking. Although, people have some similar ideas and features, can be sure about that sure. But we shouldn’t generalize personally unknown individuals or groups and even subjects.Some stereotypes about Poland and Polish People
1. Poles drink a lot of alcohol
Throughout historical times of nobility and monarchy, our nation was famous for its desire to party and to spree. It was heavily connected with drinking. Nowadays we haven’t lost our good attitude for having fun, but it’s easier to be a witness of a miracle, than to find a man with a bottle in the public place in the daytime. If someone were to spend his free time with “friend alcohol” in such a place, he would be very quickly removed. There is also that non-visible or less-visible side of our culture. We often go to some bars and pubs – they are the most popular places of meetings with friends. Spending time there isn’t a sin. Unfortunately, some of Poles think that drinking off is unnecessary to have a good time. Thinking couldn’t be worst.
Although we’re modern, advanced and civilized country, a silent consent for drinking here exists.
2. Poles are car thieves
We’re often regarded as those, who are waiting on the border for elegant, new foreigner’s cars to steal them just after they cross border checkpoint. Of course, all kinds of robbery make up important problem for our government and for us. It’s a negative phenomenon, which exists in every country and should be consistently fought. If You arrive in Poland, You can be robbed 5 times in a first day or as well can be untouched for 10 years. I haven’t noticed the theft’s tragedy.
3. Poland is a poor communistic state with wild beasts on the roads
We have a growing independent country with democratic rules. Only over 13 years have left, since we were under communistic authorities. We’re using the good aspects of free market economy. Poland is much poorer than EU, USA or Japan. But on the other hand we are one of the leaders of “emerging markets”. Reforms of the last decade give brilliant effects and there is a chance to join EU.
Don’t be afraid when coming to Poland. We are in the phase, when our industry changes for private investors. We have 28% of forests here and no bears run on the streets.
4. What to think about Poles when they say strange things about themselves?
Poles like talking very much about their disadvantages, about bad sides of being Poles. There are special jokes about nationalities for example: ” Devil caught Pole, Russian and German. He put them to 3 empty cells and gave two iron balls per capita. They had to make tricks with them in order to regain freedom. Russian and German made amazing tricks but Pole explained that he had broken one ball and had lost the second.”
But look out when talking to Poles , we are very sensitive about it and really do not like anyone (foreigners) who talks like this. When we are talking about ourselves we don’t have anything offensive in mind. When we hear it from foreigners we consider it as an insult.
5. Why are there so many billboards in the streets?
Poland is one “emerging market”. Famous companies campaign in order to win the customer. Billboards are one of the easiest way. We expect that new law will limit it somehow.
6. The traditional Polish cuisine is high-fat and “ugly“
In every-day life, Poles do not pay attention to food’s appearance. However it is very important when we have guests or there’s some special occasion.
Polish cuisine isn’t also as fat as they think it is. Majority of fat is usually thrown away – except of the part which is designed to be poured on the food (but not always – it depends on preferences). That is why Polish food can seem high-fat.
7. Poland? This is the eastern country close to Russia
We are neighbors indeed. But Russia is a very large country. In fact Poland is situated in Middle Europe. Some Poles are touchy about it and get angry when they hear that Poland is in Eastern Europe.
8. Poles are intolerant. Poles are Anti-Semites
Generally it isn’t true. There are some organizations of course but the situation in Poland is similar to this in Western Europe. Fascism and Nazism organizations are illegal.
9. Poles never smile and complain a lot
This concern the older part of society, who grew up and lived in communist system. It was necessary for them to complain because it was the only way to show that they had nothing. They had to hide everything they had in order to avoid confiscation. Youths smile a lot and never complain.
10. Is Poland modern country?
Yes, we can say so. In general we are as modern as European Union countries. However there aren’t as fast railways as in France or as many highways as in Germany but we do our best to improve the situation.