Foreign Students Associate Their Future with Polish - NAWA

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Students of Polish Studies abroad, scholarship holders of the Polonista Programme, met in Warsaw to exchange their experiences from their Polish Studies at Polish institutions.

Nearly 50 scholarship holders in the first edition of the Polonista Programm are studying at Polish higher education institutions all across the country in this academic year. They have come from Bulgaria, China, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia and Italy to study for one or two terms. They are enrolled in Polish language programmes in their home countries and associate their professional future with the language.

The Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) held a meeting for the participants of the Polonista Programme from 31 January to 2 February 2020. The students had the opportunity to meet one another and to exchange their experiences from their stay in Poland as well as from their studies in Poland and at home. NAWA Director Łukasz Wojdyga encouraged the students to learn about Poland as a country, too – to get to know its culture and history.

In the course of the two-day meeting, the students had the opportunity to attend a lecture about Polish language and literature held by Prof. Nguyen Chi Thuat from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Prof. Nguyen Chi is a translator of Polish literature into Vietnamese. He has translated among others Ryszard Kapuściński’s The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat and Bolesław Prus’s The Doll. The Presiding Committee of the Council for the Polish Language awarded him the title of ‘Ambassador of the Polish Language Outside of the Country.’ Another lecture was held by Chang Il You, a PhD student at the University of Silesia. He compared Polish with Korean and discussed the cultural differences which find their reflection in languages and which should be heeded in translation and in everyday contacts. In addition, the students visited the Museum of Warsaw and the Old Town.

The second edition of the Polonista Programme is announced this year. Its objectives are to popularise Polish in the world and to support foreigners enrolled in Polish studies and programmes at academic institutions around the world. The Programme is addressed to foreign students of Polish philology, Polish studies or Polish programmes among others as part of Slavic studies (covering Polish language, Polish culture and the knowledge of Poland) and researchers.

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What do Polish philology students say about their adventure with Polish?

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Olha Kovalenko, Polish philology student, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

Programmes such as Polonista are a great motivation to study foreign languages. In Ukraine, we say: you have as many lives as the number of languages you speak. This is true, because speaking a foreign language means the ability to open up to others and to communicate with them. I became interested in Polish as a child. I watched a Ukrainian film one day and one of the characters spoke Polish. I loved the language and when it came to choosing the course of studies, I chose Polish philology. It is a future-oriented course nowadays, because the cooperation between Ukraine and Poland keeps developing. Not all Ukrainians can learn Polish on their own, as it’s one of the most difficult languages worldwide. In the future, I’d like to work as a translator or a Polish teacher. 


Pengyu Xie, Polish philology student, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Why am I studying Polish? I thought that speaking this language would give me better opportunities on the labour market. Polish is not as popular in China as e.g. English or Russian. Cooperation between China and Poland is expanding gradually. The number of international companies keeps growing and relatively few people in China speak Polish. What I like about learning Polish most is grammar. I keep studying it and I still can’t say I’ve grasped it. I like this ‘no limits’ situation.

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Tingwei Meng, Polish philology student, Xi’an University, China

I like Polish films, poetry and literature. My favourite film is ‘Cold War’, favourite poet – Wisława Szymborska, and favourite writer – Olga Tokarczuk. I’ve read her books: House of Day, House of Night and Primeval & Other Times. This is some very interesting literature. I’ve read books by Tokarczuk in translation, but I’m going to read them in Polish in the future. After graduating from the Polish philology, I would like to study economy, and in the future, work in a company where I could use my command of Polish and my knowledge of Poland.


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Yu Zhang, Polish philology student, Xi’an University, China (in the centre of the photo)

I want to become a translator. When you’re studying a language, it’s very important to speak it. When I’m in Poland, I can speak Polish more and thus learn a great deal. Apart from that, I’m interested in architecture. I very much appreciate the architecture of the Polish cities. I like especially the cities with old towns. It’s of great value to me that I can get to know Poland better, travel, find out about its culture and history and speak with others in the language I’m studying.

Mykhailo and Pavlo Khalashy, Polish philology students, Zaporizhzhia Polytechnic National University, Ukraine 

The Polonista Programme is very useful for all who want to get an insider look at Poland: come in contact with the Polish culture, customs, everyday life. The stay is an opportunity to have direct contact with Polish teachers and Polish peers. The programme surely increases the level of knowledge and command of the language. In addition, the stay under the programme was a chance to meet many true enthusiasts of Polish, who encouraged us even more to study the language. After graduating, we’d like to work as translators or teachers.