Two Northeast Ohio teachers have created a program that will not only enable Polish children to speak English, but also express themselves in a more artistic way.
Mary Kay Pieski, president of the Ohio Chapter of The Kosciuszko Foundation, inaugurated the Arts Enriched English Camp as a pilot program last summer in Zalecze, Poland. The innovative three-week program brings together American teachers and students with Polish youth to enhance their knowledge of conversational English through instrumental, performance and visual arts experiences. Last summer 44 elementary students and 48 high school students participated.
"It has been my dream to bring people together thru the arts," says Pieski who has been involved in summer programs in Poland for the last 15 years and says the experience has changed her life. "I am thrilled to see how this camp is fostering relationships between the United States and Poland on a very personal level.
"It is particularly enjoyable to watch the young U.S. participants experience the rich culture of Poland for the first time and see them be as moved by it as I."
She was supported in her efforts last year by Rev. Joseph Rudjak, pastor of Youngstown's Sts. Peter & Paul and Our Lady of Hungary. Rudjak served as dance and performance arts instructor at the camp.
"The opportunity to work with other professionals caused me to undergo a rebirth in my interest in better learning the Polish language and deepening my knowledge of Polish culture," said Rudjak who served as dance and performance arts instructor at the camp. "I believe this is an excellent format for 21st century cultural growth as our young people living with their young people for three weeks have a chance to make life-long connections and gain a deeper understanding of each other."
The two will be discussing opportunities for area residents to participate in the Summer 2010 program when the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown hosts an informational meeting on Sunday, November 15 at 1:30 PM at Maag Library on the campus of Youngstown State University.
The arts camp is an outgrowth of the Kosciuszko Foundation Teaching English in Poland program which began in 1990.
Pieski, a Ph.D candidate in Cultural Foundations at Kent State University, coordinated instructional activities with faculty and students from Kent State University, University of Akron, Syracuse University, as well as professional community members. Students were offered classes in guitar, collage art, photography, theatre, film and vocal performance.
Adults and campers lived together in a bucolic campground in the country's Western lake region. The facility allowed for participants to sleep in dorms but otherwise kept that experience as natural as possible. The daily routine included classes, activity periods for American sports or topical debates, free time for typical camp activities and an evening program.
The arts camp is an outgrowth of the Kosciuszko Foundation Teaching English in Poland program which began in 1991. An arts enriched education is inspired by the work of educational philosopher Maxine Greene, a pioneer in aesthetic education who continues to work at the Lincoln Center Institute of the Arts in New York City.
This innovative effort began with a $4500 grant from the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation to purchase instruments and supplies. In addition to Kosciuszko Foundation NYC and the Ohio Chapter, sponsors for the program include the Polish Commission of UNESCO and Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego, the Polish scouting organization.
After the camp ended, the American staff embarked upon a week-long tour of important historical and cultural sites in Poland including visits to Warsaw, Krakow, Czestochowa, Auschwitz, Zakopane, and the famous salt mine in Wieliczka.