Katarzyna Łaziuk

Mińsk Mazowiecki

Leaders

One way ticket – this is the nutshell version of my adventure with Jewish history and culture. A few years ago I was offered to organize a meeting between my school’s students with youth from Israel. I was happy to accept the offer and started preparing the event. I wanted to present the history of Mińsk’s Jewish communityto our young guests. This is how I embarked on a journey that continues to this day.

A sense of responsibility for the history I uncover and for passing it onto my students are the aims of my activism. School of Dialogue title awarded to my school, “We are together” project, Holocaust victims remembrance day – these are just a few of the recognizable and ascertainable activities. However, it is the people I have met who present the biggest advantage of my activism. Friendship with a woman that was a child survivor of the Mińsk ghetto and meeting an Auschwitz survivor have changed both me and my perception of the world. Most of my actions aim to commemorate victims of the Holocaust. I organize Holocaust Remembrance Days, participate in the “Daffodils Action” [initiative of Polin museum to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising], I coordinate full-day visits of Israeli youth in my school and participate with my students in the We Are Together [Jesteśmy Razem] project. In 2015, I organized the first edition of Jewish Culture Days in Mińsk.

Why? I felt that I could do more for my Jewish neighbors than just present their history through the lens of the Holocaust. The two-day festival offered activities for all age groups. The youngest kids could build a shtetl, schoolchildren participated in an urban game about Jewish Mińsk and adults cooked Jewish dishes. Everyone had the opportunity to see a photo exhibition, watch a film, participate in a concert and a performative reading of works by Jewish poets and authors. I created lesson scenarios to accompany the main exhibition in Polin Museum, I am also one of the authors of educational materials to supplement the film about Warsaw Ghetto Uprising “There Was No Hope Left” (“Nie było żadnej nadziei”). 

My small but great personal achievement was a translation of a book by Roman Kent, a Holocaust survivor. “Lala My Dog” (“Mój pies Lala”) will be published by Polin museum and illustrated by students from the Artistic High School in Mińsk.

I believe that my activism is meaningful. Among the many initiatives I get involved in, working to preserve the memory of the Jews is the most important to me. My students are take the initiative to participate in projects aiming to promote Jewish culture and history, they do not need me as their guide.

It gives me great joy to see them defending “the Other” or actively seek projects to get involved in. Although there has been a visible surge of interest in Jewish matters in the local community, I am the one who benefits from my activism the most.

I met many people who have enriched my life as well as that of my family. I am most happy to have encountered Mr. Roman Kent, whom I admire for his advocacy for peace and youth education. I am extremely happy that the municipal celebrations are more and more often attended by descendants of Mińsk’s Jewish residents.

I work as an English language teacher in the Polish Educational Society Middle and High School in Mińsk. 

Aside from my activism for keeping the memory of Mińsk’s Jews alive,  I am also involved in MiLa association, which works to develop cooperation between Mińsk and its sister city of Lacey in the United States. Through this partnership I coordinate Polish-American youth exchange programs. I am also active in Wiosna (“Spring”) Association, which distributes Christmas packages to the needy residents. Having spent 25 years in the Faith and Light (“Wiara i Światło”) community that helps people with disabilities has definitely shaped me and contributed to who I am now. In my private life, I am wife of Jarek and mom of Agata. Friends and family support me in my activism. I would not be able to do all this without them. Books and dance are my two passions. I am currently working on a doctoral thesis about the impact of non-institutional Holocaust education on social attitudes among the youth.

Activism

Katarzyna Łaziuk

Mińsk Mazowiecki

contact information:
katarzyna.laziuk@liderzydialogu.pl