Elena Tsibulskaya: We have a common destiny, common roots, common goal
Elena Tsibulskaya is the Head of Polish ethnocultural centre “Svyatlo” in Atyrau. She told about the activity of Polish centre and how students of Sunday Polish school can travel to Poland free of charge.
—Could you tell about yourself, your activity?
—I am Aktobe local, fr om a simple working family. My grandparents are migrants, they were sent to the Kazakh steppes during the Stolypin reform. Without documents, without means of subsistence, two Polish families arrived in Marzhanbulak. If there was not the support of the indigenous population, it would have been hard to imagine how they would have survived. They were even forbidden to say what their nationality was.
In difficult times, grandmother remained the keeper of national traditions and family values, bringing up her children and grandchildren so that they would not forget their roots. Love for music, singing is also from her, grandfather, father and mother. Their family in the village was rightly called musical. My dad is Ukrainian by nationality, my mother is Polish. That's why we sang songs in two languages. Close communication with our Kazakh neighbors also helped us to master the state language and to sing intimate songs in Kazakh. In the house in due course three or four harmonies had.
At school I sang in choir, later participated in vocal-instrumental ensemble, in drama group. Along with singing I played harmonica and piano, though by education I was a pedagogue-psychologist.
—What is the activity of the Polish cultural centre Svyatlo? What does the name of your centre mean?
—Our Polish centre is 19 years old. Next year we will celebrate the anniversary of the centre. "Svyatlo" means light. Today, more than three hundred Poles live in the region. There are about 80 people in the ethnocultural centre. It has its own ensemble "Svyatlyachok". Its repertoire includes songs in various languages. And our family is one of the main participants in it.
As with other ethno-cultural associations, the activities of our centre are aimed at strengthening peace and interethnic accord, preserving and spreading Polish traditions and culture. We participate in all events of the city and country. In our center people can get all the information about Poland, language, cuisine and holidays.
—Is there international cooperation in ethno-cultural association? Could you tell more about it.
—During all the years of the Polish centre's existence, I have applied to various Polish Foreign Ministry organizations, the Consulate, the Polish Embassy, and asked them to provide us with Polish language teachers, and this year our dream came true. A Polish language teacher from Poland came to teach Polish at out centre and he also tells us about life in Poland. We are very proud of the fact that we are taught by a native speaker of Polish because not all cities have them. The lessons are free of charge for everyone, not only for Poles. We share not only the language, but also the warmth, because those people who come to us say that they feel like they are in a family. This is our international cooperation. This year, our children will go on vacation to Poland. Two people will spend time in Polish families, three people will have a rest in a summer camp, this trip is organized by our center. This is the Presidential program, children will fly from Astana on the Presidential plane and they will fly to the Baltic Sea to rest. Our children have gone to Poland before. Children and adults go to language courses on a regular basis, all this is organized by the Polish side, they always have different interesting projects.
—Does the Sunday school function at the cultural centre?
—When the Sunday language school opened, people met: "Can we learn Polish? They did not immediately realize that the rights of Kazakhs, whatever their nationality, are protected by the Constitution. We live in a country wh ere we are free to study our native language, culture and ancestral history. This only makes us richer.
There are 80-year-old grandmothers and 7-year-old children among Sunday school students. The method of teaching in it is very original - they sing, play sketches, dance. Songs are sung in Kazakh, Polish and Russian. People of different nationalities attend classes - not only Poles, but also Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars and others.
Someone comes to us to master the language before moving to the ancestral homeland. Some people go there to rest and do not want to get into trouble because of the language barrier. Many people start learning Polish online. Over time, they do not have enough of this, do not have enough live communication, and they enroll in school.
Children learn the basics faster, learn to pronounce correctly. Teachers work with newcomers individually.
The best students of the school, who are particularly interested, have the opportunity to take free two-week language courses in Poland. You don't have to be Polish to do that.
—Which holidays are celebrated in the center?
—We celebrate Easter, Christmas, Mother and Father's Day, all public holidays. For example, last year we celebrated 100 years of Independence of Poland. We gave a very interesting lecture. Activist of our center, Candidate of Sciences Nadezhda Stepanenko read it for us. She has a lot of works devoted to Poland, so we often listen to lectures on repression, the history of Poland, the history of Poles, how and when they came to Kazakhstan.
—Are there any charitable projects carried out by the Center?
—We don't spread much about charity actions, because we are religious people. As far as possible, we try to participate in various charitable projects, we bought a wheelchair, helped with things, we sent for treatment, provided consulting assistance.
—In your opinion, what is the role of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan in preserving peace and accord?
—The establishment of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan was a wise decision, as there was a difficult time and economic decline at that time. The Assembly has given understanding to people that unity, solidarity for the benefit of the country is necessary. I believe that multinational countries like Kazakhstan need to have such an institution as the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan. Historically, there are 130 ethnic minorities living in Kazakhstan, and this has only made Kazakhstan more interesting. We know the Kazakh traditions, Kazakhs know our Polish traditions, we cook both beshbarmak and borscht. When we come to the Session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, we feel so inspired. It happens that some project are not realized well as they have no financing, hands fall after it. However, the visit of the Session opens a second breath, you want to work, create after that. I believe that Kazakhstan will continue to develop and prosper. We need to preserve peace in our country, it is our primary task.
We live in a unique multinational country and together we contribute to the strengthening of interethnic accord and prosperity of our sovereign republic. We are of different nationalities, but we have a common destiny, common roots, we have a common goal -Mangilik El!