Krzysztof Czyzewski encourages communities to address the cultural and racial prejudices that exist in their neighborhoods. In 1990 he established the Borderland Foundation in Sejny. He chose Sejny because of its location on the borders of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia. The area still contains tremendous diversity, with many traces of different cultures including Polish, Lithuanian, Jewish, Russian “Old Believers,” Belarusian, Ukrainian, Roma, and more. Because of the dramatic political changes throughout Europe in the last decade, communities in the region 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.
That’s why Czyzewkski has created an intricate program to address historical sources of conflict and rediscover community history. He does this by providing an open space for the meeting of different cultures and nationalities. Through this local village on the border between Lithuania and Poland, the Borderland Foundation is able to demonstrate to a broader audience how to create initiatives that transform conflict into a positive community identity. Looking ahead to long-term solutions, his work draws on the participation of all community members, but it specifically targets young people. By operating as a training and publication center and by transforming young people’s perceptions and roles within communities scarred by historical divides, the Borderland Foundation aims to create a new vision for their futures.
Web site: http://pogranicze.sejny.pl/?lang=en