Sejny On The Borderland

Washington, D.C. Vice-Consul Pawel Bogdziewicz hosted a lecture featuring Chairman Krzysztof Czyzewski of the Borderland Foundation (BF) here at the Consulate General of the Embassy of Poland on February 3, 2006. The BF House is located in the small town of Sejny in the far north-east corner of Poland. Of consequence to its nearby and once fluid borders with Lithuania and Belarus, it has a well established mixed population of Poles, Lithuanians and Russians. The once flourishing Jewish population was exterminated by the Nazi Germans during World War II. But their Old Yeshiva and White Synagogue have been preserved and maintained and are now utilized for concerts, dramas and exhibitions.

Pictured are Vice-Consul Pawel Bogdziewicz (left) and Foundation Chairman Krzysztof Czyzewski (right). The prominent painting represented in the background is of old Warsaw: "Long Street, Showing the Arsenal and The Church of the Sisters of St. Brigida," by Bellotto/Canaletto 1778.

The BF was formally established in May 1990. It is an independent non-governmental organization that does not engage in any political or economic activity. It is supported by grants from different institutions and organizations, as well as by personal donations. Its sole people-orientated mission is to encourage and cultivate friendship, understanding and multiculturism between different ethnic groups and nationalities. And Sejny is the perfect laboratory for this grand social and humanistic project. It’s testing of European co-existence and accord has been met with much success and international acclaim. The BF has disseminated its philosophy and programs to Eastern and Western Europe, America, and Inner Asia. In the future it will no doubt expand globally as its intrinsic value and philosophy of life become recognized and appreciated in the other parts of the world.

A multifaceted and wide variety of cultural programs is the vehicle used by the BF to bridge the valleys between peoples of different countries, regions, ethnicities and religions. Music, theatre, literature, art, lectures and a unique, traveling, old-world-style "Café Europa" all work together successfully to connect the different peoples with one another. It also has a very busy publishing program and issues the magazine Krasnogruda, with each issue being devoted to a chosen region of Central and East Europe.

And probably the most poignant and important statement made by Director Czyzewski on this evening was one begging personal introspection: We all must do our utmost to overcome and breach our own xenophobic "internal borders" in order to reach out and live harmoniously and in peace with all our fellow human beings.

Much more information about the Borderland Foundation and its multifaceted programs can be found at its Polish/English web site

Baltimore, Md., March 2, 2006
text and photographs by Richard P. Poremski, contact the author by e-mail
This article was published originally in Polish American Journal, Buffalo, NY.

Check articles devoted to John Paul II , Polish immigration , and Polish history.

I recommend the overview of Polish history which was written by Adam Zamoyski and it is entitled: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture

This book is really excellent!
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