There’s a lot of talk about Poles who went abroad and stayed there for good. However, we rarely hear about the stories of those who decided to come back. The Emigration Museum in Gdynia wishes to showcase the fates of these Poles who decided to come back and show that emigration doesn’t end when one returns to Poland.
The “Ask About Poland” project is a meeting with re-emigrants from the Tri-City, who, after a dozen or more years, returned to their homeland. Reasons for their departures varied - to find oneself, escape the People’s Republic, love, studies, work. The reasons for returning - even more so. Emigration made them answer questions that they didn’t ask themselves before they left Poland, questions that, perhaps, wouldn’t be asked at all without the experience of emigration. What is really behind the phrase “Little Homeland”? Is a native language so important? Are dreams different abroad? During the workshops, we decided to jointly look for answers.
It wasn’t without significance for us that the Polish word for "history" (historia) can also mean “story”. Workshop meetings meant sharing stories. We listened to stories about different homelands. The close ones - Gdynia, Sopot, Gdańsk. The far-away, ideal ones - USA, Iceland, or Belgium. But mainly, we listened to stories about personal notions about homeland that the emigrants kept in their memory when they left Poland and which they create anew after they return to the Tri-City.
The Emigration Museum supported the meetings and talks, but these were created mainly by re-emigrants. They were the ones who conducted interviews with each other asking about stories of their departures and returns. They went to places they feel close to - places where they played when they were children, places of meetings and events that led to their emigration.
Re-emigrants meetings were supervised by: a specialist in oral history - Ms Olga Blumczyńska, a specialist in creative thinking and inter-cultural relations - Ms Agnieszka Dryzek, an experienced coach and cultural animator - Mr Piotr Gaweł, a reporter from Radio Gdańsk - Ms Magdalena Świerczyńska-Dolot, and Ms Barbara Ostrowska - a photographer, audiovisual resource specialist, and author of the pictures for the project.
The project was financed by the Polish History Museum in Warsaw under the “Patriotism of Tomorrow” (Patriotyzm jutra) programme.
Materials created by the participants are made available under the Creative Commons licence, Attribution of Authorship - Non-Commercial Use - No Derivatives 3.0 Poland.