Aug 182007
Lifestyle By Gail Scott
The Washington Diplomat
August 1, 2007

Poland’s First Lady Experiences Embassy Adoption Program

Front page: From left, Polish first lady Maria Kaczyńska, wife of the Polish ambassador Hanna Reiter, and Artistic Director Hanna Bondarewska attend a program by children from the Anne Beers Elementary School to celebrate the Polish Embassy’s participation in the Embassy Adoption Program.

The culmination of Poland’s yearlong participation in the Washington Performing Arts Society’s (WPAS) Embassy Adoption Program, which partnered the Polish Embassy with the D.C. Public School System, was presented to Poland’s first lady, Maria Kaczyńska, in mid-July during her husband’s official visit to the White House.

Throughout the year, Hanna Reiter, wife of Polish Ambassador Janusz Reiter, along with Monika Król, director of the American Center of Polish Culture, have been visiting and working with the sixth-grade classes at Anne Beers Elementary School in Southeast Washington.

With underwriting from IBM, the group created a special play project and a “Polish Summer Camp” from June 25 to July 17, which also included Randle Highlands Elementary. Artistic Director Hanna Bondarewska created the program, which turned into a very colorful learning adventure that would surely delight any first lady.

Close to 30 very excited sixth-graders and their parents traveled up 16th Street to the handsome Polish Embassy to present “Poland the Beautiful, an Imaginary Flight.” This colorful and educational play about a sleeping bear not only impressed Mrs. Kaczyńska but also WPAS, which heralded this Polish partnership as one of the best and most inventive in their 33 years of doing the Embassy Adoption Program.

The Embassy Adoption Program provides teachers and students with the opportunity to increase their knowledge and appreciation of the culture, government and geography of other nations. Each year, schools and embassies are paired to share and participate in multicultural experiences.

With the encouragement of Gwendolyn Payton, Anne Beers’s new principal, the Embassy Adoption Program was re-instated at the elementary school this year. This presentation was the grand finale to a year in which the children learned about Poland’s history and culture. One of the most successful segments was having the students learn which Poles made major contributions to the world, including scholar Nicolas Copernicus, scientist Marie Curie and the legendary composer Frederic Chopin.

Along with the play, Polish artist Inna Slutskaya nurtured the artistic skills of the students as they created tiled artwork, portraits, cityscapes and puppets.

During her visit with the children, Poland’s first lady was presented with the Children’s Heart Award, a unique decoration given by children that was presented to Pope John Paul II in 1997.

“Of course,” Hanna Reiter said, “we are hoping that our imaginary trip to Poland will one day become a reality for these children who learned so much about our country.”
Children from the Anne Beers Elementary School—which joined with the Polish Embassy at part of the Embassy Adoption Program—performed a show called “Poland the Beautiful, an Imaginary Flight” for Polish first lady Maria Kaczyńska, pictured center, with Artistic Director Hanna Bondarewska to her left and wife of the Polish ambassador Hanna Reiter to her right.

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