Open house at the Embassy
Early Friday morning. The stage is still there in the Embassy garden where the Pippi choir from the Astrid Lindgren school made their performance yesterday afternoon at our Open house, thus kicking off the activities that lasted six hours in total.
The Pippi singers were just irresistible, fantastic. Singing in Polish and Swedish with the same energy and enthusiasm. “Lille katt” (little cat) for example only in Swedish. I could have listened to them for hours.
The same can be said about the performance that closed the Open house programme: the jazz concert with Anna Christoffersson and Steve Dobrogosz. First the National Anthem following my speech with an intro by Steve Dobrogosz which was just unbelievable. It is hard to describe what was so special with the way the Anthem was introduced and performed. Perhaps simply the fact that it suddenly – while otherwise being quite traditional – became an integrated part of our contemporary life, of what took place then and there.
And when Anna as an extra sang “Remember me”, which is just lovely, the atmosphere was remarkable. The clouds were hanging grey in the air over the tent, the day turned slowly into dusk and her song was all around us. I hope and believe our guests enjoyed it as much as I did.
They were around 700 in total, almost all of them being Poles. 8 groups with 20 people in each were guided in the Embassy. Our co-worker Anna Gąsiorowska made a short Power Point-presentation for each group about our work – what does an Embassy like ours actually do in practice? From politics to consular matters.
Then they continued upstairs to my room. Some were sitting, some were standing – and then we talked. I said a few introductory words about my job and then there was room for questions. No problems there, they were numerous. For instance: Will Sweden join NATO? Are we allowing double citizenship? Which places in Poland do I like best (a tricky one because I like what I have liked waht I see everywhere but my number one is I honestly told them – Warsaw)? Is there anything that is better in Poland than in Sweden – and is there anything I don’t like in Poland? What are my hobbies? What differences in mentality between Swedes and Poles have I observed? How do we cooperate with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs? In which areas should our countries expand our cooperation? Is Polish a difficult language to learn? Will Queen Silvia visit Poland?
And many more – very good and very relevant questions. Preparing for the event I had practised a bit extra on the vocabulary in some areas together with my teachers in Polish. Quite a lot around the unrest (zamieszki) in some suburbs of Stockholm in May. Now I know how to formulate myself better also around this theme in Polish – and how to describe the fact that many people in these suburbs together made a lot to calm down the situation and return to normality. But no questions occurred in that area.
We had planned for six groups but the interest among the visitors made an expansion necessary. So eight groups in total. And perhaps 10 minutes in my room, perhaps even more. Now afterwards it is difficult to remember. It was just such a great experience.
As was the whole event. So much more was included. Visitors were invited to move around in the Residence where e.g. our chef Michał Godyn made a presentation about Swedish cooking and Swedish food. In the garden there were a lot of different activities e.g. about recycling and children’s literature. 1800 cinnamon buns had been baked. Candy from Candyking was available. I must admit I had more buns and candy that afternoon than ordinary food but I will not repeat it. The Embassy reception had gender equality as its major theme with the exhibition about Swedish dads and a film on that same theme.
We had early chosen four major themes that we wanted to communicate – openness, creativitity, ecology and gender equality – and I believe they became as visible and tangible as we had hoped.
So many more memories I would like to communicate but another working day is approaching. But let me convey my sincere gratitude to all our guests yesterday. We were so happy to see you here. And to our fantastic staff at the Embassy where every single individual contributed to a great result. The working group under Mikael Benthe and Katarzyna Szota couldn’t have planned this better.
And no rain. Believe it or not: no rain. The forecasts have been going from bad to worse but the reality was different. Simply a great day.