by George J Elbaum
Prywatne Gimnazjum i Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Ignacego Jana Paderewskiego w Lublinie (Paderewski International School in Lublin) is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School which offers the IB Middle Years Programme and IB Diploma Programme as well as the Polish national curriculum to its 320 students. Both IB programmes aim to “promote intercultural understanding and respect, not as an alternative to a sense of cultural and national identity, but as an essential part of life in the 21st century.” To this goal, the IB Mission Statement (www.ibo.org/mission) includes the following words: “These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” This requires very high academic standard of the participating schools, which at Paderewski includes both a Gimnazjum (ages 13-16) and Liceum (ages 16-19).
The school also prides itself in its excellent facilities which include special fitness rooms available to the local population: one is equipped with an impressive array of modern exercise machines and another is a special maternity gym with appropriate equipment.
My presentation was organized by Diana Chmielewska, IBDP English and Spanish teacher, whose irrepressible and infectious enthusiasm surely enhances the learning process for her students. After the presentation and book signing we met with the head of the school Adam Kalbarczyk and enjoyed a delicious light lunch before leaving for the next event at Swidnik with its teacher, Ula Burda, who arranged our visit here and attended it with us.
Letters from Students
A few days ago we received several letters (and a drawing “Don’t Blame Children”, thank you) from students at the Paderewski International School. As has become our habit by now, after dinner tonight my wife Mimi read each letter aloud while I listened and absorbed it, mentally and emotionally. We were impressed not only by the students’ excellent English (both grammar and vocabulary), but especially by the thoughtful content and sensitivity of the letters. Statements from these letters that particularly resonated with us are excerpted below.
- You made me realize how lucky I am to live in a country under no occupation.
- What the Nazis did is not pardonable, but we can’t blame today’s generations for what their predecessors did.
- I am sitting in my kitchen, here in Poland, looking through the window and staring at nothing – an empty space which always grows in front of our eyes when we are strongly thinking or suddenly understanding something.
- I was a little skeptical about your talk at the beginning because I am not very happy about history, specifically WWII. The reason is simple – it terrifies me.
- Thanks to your story I realized that I should trust people more and shouldn’t judge them by first impression.
- You told us about many things that we haven’t learned in history lessons.
- There are many people who are “zealous” about their religion but act completely differently than their religion tells them to do.
- Your words were unforgettable – that all of us have a choice who we want to be in our life, how we want to treat others, and how we want to be treated by them.