THE IMAGE OF POLES AND POLAND IN THE EYES OF ITALIAN STUDENTS AT THE LA SAPIENZA UNIVERSITY
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The intensification of international migration and tightening of intercultural relations is putting the issues of different countries image, stereotypes and perceptions in a very prominent place. The image of Poland abroad is a highly stimulating question and recent accession into the European Union makes it even more significant and debatable. This article presents the image of Poland through the eyes of young Italians, students of Roman University La Sapienza - one of the most prestigious in Italy. The article answers following questions: how young Italians perceive Poland several months before Poland's entry into the EU, what did they know about Polish history, culture, politics and geography? What was Poland associated with and which stereotypes of Poles functioned in public discourse? What influence the Polish Pope, John Paul II had on the perceptions of Poland and its citizens? Although the Polish-Italian contacts in different areas: scientific, cultural, artistic, diplomatic, political etc. have been developed for many centuries, it seems that they did not particularly influence the perception of Poland and Poles in Italy. The results of the research conducted in December 2003, presented in this article demonstrate that the level of knowledge about Poland in Italy is very low and negative stereotypes among young Italians are common. An improvement in informative politics and closer Polish-Italian cooperation in different fields would permit to overcome negative perceptions of Poles in Italy.
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