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Poland The Beautiful: An Imaginary Flight

WASHINGTON, D.C. An Imaginary Flight Becomes A Reality. The fully booked imaginary LOT Polish Airline flight to ‘Poland The Beautiful' became airborne here in the Grand Ballroom at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland on June 6, 2008. Upon ‘landing' in Poland, a score and more of African-American students, mainly 6th graders at the Anne Beers Elementary School, proceeded to take the many passengers on a very unique and lively cultural tour of Poland.

Polish Embassy Embraces Washington School Children. Students from the Anne Beers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., participating in Embassy Adoption Program, are featured above singing ‘Piekna Nasza Polska Cala' (Poland The Beautiful) at the Embassy just prior to their departure to Warsaw, Poland.

The student ‘tour guides' proceeded to entertain and educate the enraptured audience with a stunning presentation of Poland's song, dance and history, while costumed in the authentic folk dress of Poland. The enthusiastic student body sang many traditional and favorite Polish songs, including Kolendy (Christmas carols). The Grand Polonaise  (led by a fluffy-white-wigged King Zygmunt), Mazurka and Krakowiak were all performed in very fine step.

A living tableau of posed statues representing Tadeusz Kosciuszko meeting with General George Washington, Nicolas Copernicus, Frederick Chopin and Maria Sklodowska-Curie all in turn became animated and spoke of their respective personal profiles. Skits portraying the Christmas allegory and folk tales about the Warsaw Mermaid and the Wawel Castle Dragon were also presented. The several feet long mischievous dragon made quite an impression upon the audience before being dispatched by the young hero.

Prominently on display in the Embassy anterooms was large colorful displays of Poland-themed art and traditional handicrafts skillfully created by the students, as well as collection of whimsical personal portraits painted on glass. The sizable group of Lajkonik figurines attracted a lot of attention.

Upon ‘landing' back at the Embassy the passengers gave their student guides and aircrew a very well deserved and resounding standing ovation; and then everyone disembarked into the imposing baroque Banquet Room for an enjoyable buffet of delicious Polish foods and desserts.

The Embassy Adoption Program is made possible by a partnership between the D.C. Public Schools and the Washington Performing Arts Society, and the financial support of many generous benefactors. Former Ambassador Janusz Reiter, Mrs. Hanna Reiter, Secretary Anna Barbarzak, with officials and dignitaries at the Polish Embassy, and in Warsaw, all contributed mightily to make this 2006-2007 school year program a huge success. The American Center for Polish Culture also played an important supporting role.

Pani Hanna Bondarewska - Program/Artistic Director and Founder of the Ambassador Theater - was the ‘Belle d'Polonia' who worked unceasingly with the students and assistants in every single aspect of the complicated and multifaceted program from concept to fruition. The resulting accomplishment has garnered heralded acclaim both here and in Poland.

Bondarewska then led the students and chaperones on a LOT Airline flight to Warsaw, Poland. There, on June 17, 2008 they presented their Poland The Beautiful program to President Lech Kaczynski and a host of other dignitaries at the Presidential Palace. Afterwards, the program was toured to different venues in Poland.

What began as an imaginary cross-culture trip to Poland, in the end, became an unimaginable reality beyond the wildest dreams of its young inner-city participants.

We honor each and every student, and the entire staff, with a very well deserved Sto Lat!!

Check Polish Folk Costumes in Different Regions of Poland: Past and Present and Polish Mountaineers:

Below are the photos of students during the art program:

Text and Photographs by Richard P. Poremski, contact the author by e-mail.
The article was published originally in
Polish-American Journal
July 8, 2008

Recommended reading(s):

Travel Guide Eyewitness Travel Guide to Poland by Teresa Czerniewics-Umer, Malgorzata Omilanowska, Jerzy S. Majewski, DK Travel Writers

The Rough Guide to PolandThe Rough Guide to Poland by Mark Salter, Jonathan Bousfield

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