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Krzysztof Czyżewski is introducing a new civic space where citizens can peacefully discuss the conflicts that separate them. Focusing on educating a new generation of young people who are tolerant and sensitive to diversity in a contemporary world, Krzysztof is establishing a network of cultural and social centers that brings together local residents from diverse backgrounds to develop their communities.
The problem is the crisis of multicultural societies and broken relations between people . Communities from many different cultural and ethnic groups are confronting their cultural diversity in new ways. Misunderstandings, historically rooted prejudices, ignorance, and intolerance stemming from religious or cultural stereotypes are particularly vivid in border areas. Given the enormity of the problem, this issue is often dealt with on a microlevel, with only certain aspects of the problems presented or discussed. The need is for a cohesive, complex program consisting of long–term interventions to create ownership and active participation of community members in creating a new, open, plural society.
In 2011 the President of Poland opened an International Center for Dialog in Krasnogruda in the reconstructed manor house. It is functioning as a laboratory for innovative cross–cultural practices and an academy for the bridge–builders form different borderlands of the world. The Sejny model actively trains thousands of community builders – the leaders of major initiatives and organizations of multicultural communities. Thetraining has resulted in the creation of several nonprofit institutions and intercultural exchange projects throughout CEE. They Foundation created the Borderland Cultures Documentation Center – it serves as a reference library for scholars around the world.
Krzysztof established the Borderland Foundation in Sejny – the area which contains many traces of different cultures including those of the Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, Russian “Old Believers,” Belarussians, Ukrainians, Roma, and more. The tremendous diversity made this location ideal for building a model of cooperation and mutual enrichment among multicultural communities. He uses social, cultural, and educational programs to help people get to know, understand, and respect the history, culture, and traditions of their neighbors. He abandons the idea of one–time events and dedicates himself to establishing long–lasting processes of everyday work in the local community, dialogue, and constant exchange with others.
Krzysztof is introducing a new civic space where citizens can peacefully discuss the conflicts that separate them. He is focusing on educating a new generation of young people who are tolerant and sensitive to diversity in a contemporary world.
Driven by his own experiences of living on the “border” both socially and economically, Krzysztof’s work with theater became infused by his intense interest in the study of culture and cultural borders. This was reinforced as he traveled the world, gathering stories of the elderly in remote village areas in order to better understand traditional cultures. In 1989 Krzysztof realized he needed to commit himself to overcoming the deep historical burdens faced by borderland communities. So with friends and family, Krzysztof moved east in order to start the Borderland Foundation and commit his life to modeling the living civil society.