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December 2019
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Religious Youth Service

RYS-Poland Works at Three Sites in Southwest Poland

Participants: 110 Nations Represented: 34

Krakow, Poland—Dynamic and historic changes occurred in this time as the barrier, between the communist bloc and the free world were lowered. Poland was one of the nations that was undergoing these dramatic changes. Where could Poland find new models to help guide it into an era of healthy government? Religious sentiments were mixed at this time because, even though new religious freedom has been granted, other forces were pushing to establish the Roman Catholic faith as the state religion. A model of international and interfaith cooperation was needed in Poland at this time to help show a new path which could help link it to the larger world.

Work: Between June 24 to August 3, three work sites, all in the Southwest part of Poland, were arranged within a two-hour drive of each other.

  1. Krakow: A team of 40 men and women worked at a model school for the visually impaired. The school needed to expand and RYS supported its program by building two stories of a wing of the school.
  2. Zakopane: Working in cooperation with the local mayor participants worked restoring a cultural center and converting an army barracks into a nursery school.
  3. Karniowice: Rural area outside Crack: Built a water system to be used be local farmers.

Summary: This project was welcomed by the Polish people and municipal leaders who viewed this as a great opportunity to link their communities to the international youth. Traditionalists among the Roman Catholic Church were at times less than enthusiastic to welcome youth from many different faiths, so we chose sites that were not connected to the Church.

The Polish staff were much less experienced at organizing public meetings than their Western counterparts because of the former government's restrictions on holding such meetings.

Advisors: Dr. Paul Mojzes, Dr. Frank De Graeve, Dr. Francis Clark, Dr. Vera Mehta, Rev. David Hose

Staff: 

Dr. Gene James, Dr. Nona Bolin : Zaccophone 
Drs. Kazi and Azzizun Islam: Karniowce 
Dr. James and Nancy Burton: Kracow 
International Director: Gary Young 
IRFF representative & work advisor: Mr. Steve Leighton 
Education Program Director's: Drs. Ron Burr, Sherry Hartman: 
Administration Director: Nancy Yamamoto 
International Project Co-ordinator: John Gehring: 
Local Project co-ordinator: Marta and Kristoph Krel

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