Tag Archives: poland

The importance of empowerment in an education setting: visiting Poland and my former secondary school

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There are moments in life which often stay with us forever. The return, after 24 years, to the “Biskupiak” secondary school in Lublin, which I attended from 1994 to 1998, was just such a day, to which I will return very often.

I was invited to give a talk about my journey, the work with the Polish community as well as the reasons why I decided to stand in the local elections. My presentation, which took place in the school auditorium, and which was attended by about 200 students, was a truly wonderful experience. There were questions; some easier than others on the role of Monarchy, Polish Saturday School, immigration or the process of becoming a Councillor. I spoke in both Polish and English, which was quite extraordinary. I was impressed by the very good level of English of Polish students.

It was a truly beautiful return to the past, full of emotion and positive energy.

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The stark reality of ending freedom of movement

The summer holidays are always a time of intensive traveling for me and my family. It is usually a logistical challenge to try and visit both families in Poland and Croatia. For most of us, the “pandemic years” meant moving around was even more challenging. However due to a different set of unforeseen circumstances, we might have forgotten that visiting a family in Europe could easily become a real nightmare.

I landed in Warsaw on Friday, 29th July. As expected, there were long queues at the airport. A lot of people travel to Poland to either visit their family or spend some time exploring the spectacular nature, national parks and tasting delicious cuisine that Poland has to offer.

While waiting for my passport to be checked, I noticed a small group of people, British passport holders, with an elderly gentleman, who were told: “You are in the wrong queue”. This, as well as the recent debacle at the ferry crossing in Dover, clearly demonstrates what ending the freedom of movement looks like in practice. What a stark reality of what Brexit does to people. I must admit that I was quite surprised. 

Later on, after “digesting” the whole situation, I remembered a “historic speech” made by Priti Patel, who said: “After many years of campaigning, I am delighted that the Immigration Bill, which will end free movement on 31st December, has today passed through Parliament. We are delivering on the will of the British people”. In my view, Ms Patel forgot to add that this policy will work both ways.

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Challenging cultural and ethnic stereotypes

A week or so ago, I was asked to give a talk about how faith relates to politics and vice versa. I remember when I first came to the UK, I was told to avoid talking about both subjects and therefore I knew that running a workshop in relation to both topics might be a bit tricky!

For some, both faith and politics go hand in hand. Our political choices are guided by our religion or faith affiliation. Our beliefs often become our moral compass, which “dictates” in many cases the way we vote, or decide who to support at the polling station.

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Observations of an Expat: Belarus and State Sponsored Human Trafficking

Up to 20,000 Middle Eastern refugees are stuck in a narrow strip of no-man’s land as winter descends upon them. To the west—the dreamed of destination—is a razor wire fence and armed Polish guards. To the east are tens of thousands of armed Belarussian troops to prevent them from going back into Belarus proper.

These refugees have paid thousands of dollars to the agents of Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko who are scouring the Middle East in search of displaced persons in search of a better life in Europe.

They collect their money. Tell them they are going to the promised land of Germany. The refugees are then put on flights to Minsk from Damascus, Dubai or Istanbul. In the Belarussian capital they are met by armed guards who herd them into lorries that transport them to the border with Poland, Latvia or Lithuania. They are unloaded and told to march west. That is when the dream becomes a nightmare.

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World Review: Troubles in Poland, Nigeria, Brazil & the US, and Colin Powell

In this weekend’s commentary on world affairs, LDV’s foreign correspondent Tom Arms reviews the conflict between Poland and the Commission over the primacy of EU law. Nigeria is in a bigger mess than usual as corruption is exacerbated by Jihadism, the pandemic, a rapid rise in gang violence and a resurgence of Biafran secessionism. Brazilian senators are investigating Bolsonaro’s responsibility for 600,000 Brazilian covid-19 deaths. In the States, Trump aide Steve Bannon will go to prison for a year for contempt of Congress. Colin Powell who died this week, was universally recognised as a decent and honest man.

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World Review: War in Africa, Northern Ireland, Poland, Lebanon and Russian gas

In this weekend’s World Review, LDV’s foreign affairs correspondent writes on the war in Ethiopia and warns that if the conflict drags on much longer then the almost certain danger is that it will spread throughout Ethiopia and then other countries in the strategic Horn of Africa. Northern Ireland and Poland’s difficulties with the EU have a common stumbling block  – the  European Court of Justice. Have the Russians weaponised exports of natural gas to Europe? And Lebanon took another giant step towards failed state status this week when terrorists killed seven people.

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COVID, holidays and vaccine hesitancy within Eastern European communities

If someone told me a few years ago that any other issue will divide our communities as much as Brexit did after the EU referendum, I would not have believed.

This year, I was lucky enough to travel over the summer holidays. A lot of people like me, who live abroad, are often left with very little choice. COVID restrictions, stress around planning and cost of tests is putting many people off, however there are not many alternatives if we want to see our loved ones.

The health pandemic was a central part of many of my conversations in Poland and Croatia. Although most of my friends had at least one dose of the vaccine, what are the reasons for “vaccine hesitancy” within the Polish and other ethnic minority communities?

The most recent data from the Hertfordshire County Council Public Health team shows that 69% of any other white backgrounds of residents living in the county received at least one dose of the vaccine. This is significantly lower than e.g. white British individuals (around 90%). There is still some work that needs to be done to address the issue of relatively low levels of the vaccine roll-out within minority ethnic groups.

It is also clear that there are many reasons why some people, also from my community, are hesitant towards the vaccination programme. Social media plays a big part in shaping people’s views on whether to have the vaccine or not. Targeted online campaigns, believing only in one source of information, being fed up with listening to “experts” often means that it is not easy to change people’s “fixed mind-sets”. For those living in the UK, occasional language barriers could be some of the motives of vaccine resistance.

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Opinion: Postcard from a British immigrant in Poland

As a Briton living and working in Poland I am ashamed of the small-mindedness David Cameron is encouraging in Britain by attacking Polish immigrants and insinuating that they are nothing but benefit scroungers. It is doing great damage to our image here and cutting deep into the trust and respect between our peoples.

I am a guest in this country, an economic migrant if you will. Since coming here to Warsaw in 2010 no one has ever uttered even the mildest criticism of my taking up the opportunity to work here (at an international college of European studies). Far from it …

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Daily View 2×2: 10 April 2010 – featuring a Monty Python political broadcast

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am. It’s time for some Monty Python, but first the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Katyn touches another Polish generation

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The Kaminski row: 2 must-read articles

The row over David Cameron’s decision to pull the Tories out of the main centre-right European grouping, the European People’s Party (EPP), and set up a new group of “extreme and rag-bag” assorted right-wingers, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), has been simmering for months.

It’s burst into the political mainstream this week, courtesy of the unlikely figure of the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich. Back in July, he emailed the New Statesman’s James Macintyre with some sharp criticism of Michael Kaminski, the leader of the Tories’ new Euro grouping, who has faced accusations of anti-semitism and …

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Opinion: Strange bedfellows?

As a Liberal Democrat supporter currently residing in Warsaw, Poland it is with great interest that I have read David Cameron will be in my adopted home town tomorrow to launch with Czech and Polish partners, a new right-wing group in the EU parliament. It is well documented that Cameron pledged to withdraw the Tories from the centre-right EPP grouping but as can be seen from this weekend’s Guardian this is not altogether a popular decision amongst senior Tories.

The Tory party has long made itself irrelevant on European issues – but what bothers me so much is that the …

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