First International Festival des Arts Populaires in Jacmel
W tym roku „Polonia” w swoją 18. podróż zagraniczną wybrał Haiti, gdzie wziął udział w Międzynarodowym Festiwalu Kulturalno – Folklorystycznym - przeczytaj reportaz z podrozy w Dzienniku Zwiazkowym
Sitting in a ready-for-takeoff plane on the runway of Chicago O’Hare airport, twenty-two people in black, matching T-shirts impatiently waited to begin their upcoming adventure outside the United States. It was on this hot and humid, summer afternoon that nineteen dancers from the Polish Folk Dance Ensemble “Polonia,” along with director Anna Krysinski, Music Director Mieczyslaw Dzis, and Anna Rozko, were flying out to a dance festival in Haiti. In its history, “Polonia” has already traveled to 18 countries, but this time, no one knew what it would be like to visit the Third World.
Haiti, a nation that lies in the Caribbean next to the Dominican Republic, was hit with a massive earthquake recorded at 7.0 Mw on the Richter scale in 2010. Since then, even with the assistance of many other countries, the extensive damage after the catastrophe is still evident. However, even after such a nightmare, the people living on the tropical island don’t allow the past to heavily influence their present.
Even after our first day there, it was apparent that the natives took us in with open arms along with an obvious curiosity. This of course was inevitable as a group of “whites” with colorful costumes and long, fake braids. The opening of the festival consisted of a parade with all the participating groups along with a short performance on the main grounds of the event. It was here that our group debuted a Haitian folk song titled “Wangolo.” We knew that the endless hours of practicing were worth it when the entire crowd sang along with us in Creole. After this first night, none of our performances were complete without this beautiful melody.
Although the unity between us Poles and Haitians could be seen during our shows, what touched us the most was a newfound friendship with our tour guide, Alland Lamour. It was he who helped us build a bridge between two very different cultures, but also showed us the countless similarities between human beings that go beyond the color of our skin or where we live.
During our week in Haiti, we wanted to leave at least a small gift for people who truly have so little in comparison with the rest of the world. Even walking out onto the street in front of our hotel in Jacmel, we had the opportunity to see how a little toy or a piece of candy made a young child’s day. Our guide Alland, who is a music teacher at a school in Jacmel, also took our group to his workplace. There, even with the language barrier, we were able to play with the kids through the universal language of people all over the world: music and dance.
Coming back to the U.S., I think that there was a change in the hearts of every member of “Polonia.” Usually, whenever we return from a trip to another country, we’re left thinking about the experiences and memories from the time spent there. However, this time it was different. What we saw in Haiti will stay with us for the rest of our lives, and I know that it’ll bring a different perspective to each day of our futures. I believe that the most important life lesson for every one of us is one that is so easy to forget: we must remember to thank God for what we do have, for all it takes is a single moment to lose everything.
-Kinga Fluder- tancerka Zespolu P. i T. „Polonia”