Quo Vadis Calgary 2012: Integration, International Youth Leadership Conference was held from August 17 to 19 this year, in Calgary and Canmore in the Rocky Mountains.
The Quo Vadis program has been present in North America since 2009. The first conference took place in Ottawa and the following in Windsor , Toronto , Chicago  and in the same year in Calgary. The program is addressed to students and young, ambitious people of Polish descent from Canada, the United States and the world who want to actively participate in building the intellectual base of the Polish community. The purpose of Quo Vadis is to educate future leaders, nurture the Polish national heritage, strengthen ties and cooperate with Polish communities, Poland and Canada.
The main slogans: heritage, leadership and unity accompany the subsequent editions of the program and set the directions for readings, debates, presentations and workshops. The theme of this year’s meeting of Quo Vadis Calgary 2012 was the issue of integrating Polish youth with existing organizations, with cultural groups present in multinational Canada, the problem of integrating Polish youth on a global scale and the leadership role of young, talented people of Polish origin that are motivated to take various initiatives and challenges. The conference was attended by 80 participants from Canada and one person from Australia. The meeting was attended by prominent guests and lecturers: Janusz Cisek – Undersecretary of State for Consular Affairs and Polonia in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thomas Lukaszuk – Deputy Prime Minister Alberta, Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Canada, Krzysztof Czapla – Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Vancouver, Zygmunt Potocki – Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in Calgary, Blaine Calkins – Member of the Parliament Alberta, Zofia Kawczyńska – Butrym UMCS professor in Lublin, Walter Perchal – lieutenant-colonel, professor of York University in Toronto, Jaroslaw Nowinka – President of the Canadian Polish Congress, Alberta County and involved from many years in the Polonia’s activity: Allan Wachowich, Peter Mielzynski, Tony Muszynski, Wiktor Mazur, Greg Kołodziejczyk.
The conference was opened with a welcome ceremony organized in the Polish-Canadian Cultural Center in Calgary, during which White Hat Ceremony took place – the tradition of giving white hats to distinguished guests. Handing on the hat is accompanied by taking the oath and confirming that the person honored with it will treat everyone according to the standards of Western hospitality [“Western Hospitality”]. White Hat – a symbol of Western hospitality received Professor Janusz Cisek – Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who took the oath in the presence of Ms. Karen Hanner – representative of the city of Calgary. On the same day, guests and participants went to Canmore, a town located in the Rocky Mountains, where debates and workshops were organized for ten discussion groups. Young people took part in two sessions and listened to several lectures, which concerned issues indicated in the topic of the conference. On the last day of the program at Rafter Six Ranch took place Leaders’ Workshops – scored competition for 4-5 personal groups who received various tasks to be carried out, for example, to compose Quo Vadis with the members of the group, take a picture with each of the program board members and come up with a group cheer.
During the conference, Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, the Polish Ambassador in Canada received an honourable medal [Medal for Exemplary Service [Youth Support a distinction awarded to persons supporting the activities of young Polonia] from the Polish Students Initiative in Canada [PISK]. – . Guests, as well as the Board of the Quo Vadis Calgary 2012 program – the co-founder of the conference – were presented with commemorative PISK t-shirts. The organizers gave their guests, speakers and honorary advisors diplomas – as a thank-you for their cooperation in the conference.
The conference was organized by young people representing various fields: science, art, business and others. Many of them have already participated in this undertaking as delegates of previous editions of the program. Thanks to the experiences gained, they could take part in the organization of the Quo Vadis Calgary 2012 event. The group of conference organizers was: Monika Albertin, Adam Broniewski, Julia Buczek, Natalia Dmuchowska [Chairman of the Board], Antoni Kowalczewski, Małgorzata Patoczka, Maciej Piekarski, Katarzyna Podolska-Kraska, Maya Modzynski , Anna Wardzała, Julian Wylegly. Honorary advisers are: Jerzy Batycki, Edward Andrzej Bukowski, Martin Grzadka, Natalia Kusendova, and Tony Muszyński.
The Quo Vadis Conference in Calgary 2012, could take place thanks to the unselfish social work of young, extremely dynamic and imaginative people, with the support of honorary advisors and enormous help from sponsors such as: The Polish Canadian Congress, Association of Polish Veterans, Koło No. 18 in Calgary, Polish Women’s Federation, Ogniwo No. 3 in Edmonton, Polish-Canadian Association in Calgary, The Eternal Polish-Alberta Foundation, Consulat General of the Republic of Poland in Vancouver, Władysław Reymont Foundation in Canada, Polish Student Association at the University of Alberta, Polish Student Association at the University of Calgary, The Polish Culture Society of Edmonton, PISK (Polish Student Initiative in Canada Organization), POLIMEX, Peter Mielzynski Agencies Ltd., Polish Canadian Humanitarian Mission in Edmonton, The Society of Friends Cultural Society in Canada.
In 2013, the Quo Vadis Conference will take place in Montreal, Canada, in New Haven Connecticut, USA, and in Sydney Australia.
Author: Teresa Zejda
Translated to English: Ania Nogal
Source: STOWARZYSZENIE “WSPÓLNOTA POLSKA”