Highfield campus is cold with snowflakes dancing through the air. The warmth hits me like a wall when I step into Lattés. Dominika Dabrowska, the President of the Polish Society at the University of Southampton (PolSoc), sits on one of the brown sofas to the left, surrounded with papers, brochures and posters.
A fourth year Ship Science student, Dominika has for two consecutive years been elected President of the PolSoc. This is the third time the society arranges an event promoting Polish culture in Southampton. This year’s Polish Awareness Day will take place in the Turner Sims Concert Hall on Sunday 11th March at 6 pm.
The 2009 Awareness Day involved a travelling exhibition on the Solidarity Movement in Poland. Last year’s Awareness Day was celebrated with a Chopin concert in the Turner Sims Concert Hall. Around 300 people came to the event and there were almost no seats left. The Southampton Mayor Councillor Terry Matthews attended the concert, and he will also be present this year. Dominika hopes that this year’s event will reach the same success.
The event is divided into two parts. The first part involves traditional Polish dances, performed by the Polish Folklore Group “Karpaty”. They will demonstrate dances from different regions while dressed in traditional clothes. After the break, international students and alumni from the University of Southampton will perform the Polish theatre play ‘Tango’.
‘Tango’, written by Slawomir Mrozek, was an evident choice for the committee. The play is on the obligatory reading list in Polish schools, and it demonstrates the complicated national history of the modern Polish state. Written in 1964, the surrealistic plot is ultimately a parable for the contemporary totalitarian Stalinist rule. Seven students will take part in the performance, of which half are members of the PolSoc. Two of them are studying in Southampton thanks to the D.G. Fahrenheit’s scholarship awarded by the Mayor of Gdansk.
But why a Polish Awareness Day?
“We want to be more visible at the University and in the city”, says Dominika. “When elected, the committee decided that we should organise one big event every year. We want to show that there is more to the Polish population in Southampton than just students or workers. We have a rich historical origin with a cultural heritage that most people do not know anything about. The Polish Awareness Day is a way to share this culture with everyone at the University.”
Considering the 20,000 Polish community in Southampton, PolSoc has strong links with Polish organisations and businesses in the city. This year’s event is sponsored by the local SOS Polonia and Lingland, both led by Barbara Storey. The close relationship with her has made all the other events possible.
Dominika folds her papers and posters. She is on her way to another meeting. It is a lot of work to organise such a huge event, but it will surely turn out to be a smooth, and interesting tango. To attend the Polish Awareness Day, book seats on the website www.polsoc.co.uk. Attendance is free.