By Filip Terlecki
With people being increasingly free to live and work where they please, the idea of a nation’s reach takes on a different meaning. Rather than simple states locked by borders, countries are becoming brands that represent certain values and ideals. This is especially evident with nations that have large diaspora populations.
There are an estimated 20 million people of Polish ancestry living outside Poland, making the Polish diaspora (referred to in Polish as “Polonia”) one of the largest in the world.
The Warsaw-based School for Leaders has taken on the task of providing young leaders of this diaspora with the skills to initiate positive changes in their communities.
Supported in part by the Polish Government, the school is the brainchild of Oxford Professor Zbigniew Pełczyński – former politics tutor to U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Recently, dozens of the school’s alumni from countries such as: Canada, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Russia, Germany, France, Australia and the United Kingdom reunited in Poland for a weekend retreat with the aim to strengthen connections and foster collaboration on future projects.
The projects span areas of arts and culture, business and civics and include such initiatives such as: U.K based Play Poland Film Festival, the Warsaw/Chicago/New York born Pangea Entrepreneurs Conference, YouNxt’s Polish film poster exhibitions during the Toronto International Film Festival and various Chopin Days in France. These undertakings serve a dual purpose: they unite Poles abroad and make positive contributions to the international communities that host them.
The projects help shape the perception of Poland abroad. And, in a way, their organizers act as ambassadors of their heritage. For Poland, it’s a form of soft power that serves to build a positive brand in the world.