MEETING THE OTHER AT A SCHOOL DESK. ROMANY IDENTITY (Spotkanie z Innym w szkolnej lawie. Romska tozsamosc )
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Multicultural societies are treasure of diversity. Te term identity is used to define a variety of conceptions of man, his personality as well as phenomena concerning functioning of the community. Te awareness of the origin and an attempt to seek the answer to a question: ‘Where am I from?', are important components of social identity. Answering this question, the individual determines who he is and at the same time is able to answer other questions for himself: who I am not and what makes me different from others? These questions and answer share drawing frameworks of functioning in given surroundings. It is also possible to turn the issue of the identity and the identification to the question: ‘Who am I?' and ‘What am I like?' Te process of cognition of the other' is simply a clarification of our own identity. Romany people are aware of their otherness that separates their group from the majority of people. Their subjective identification with their own community is dependent on many objective criteria of ethnic membership, i.e. acquaintance of the culture and the language, a lifestyle, anthropological features or blood relationship - these are elements necessary for building the identity of Romany people. Gypsies are seeking self-determination in the ethnic sphere. Since they are in the situation in which they do not have conditions to develop their traditions and culture with the help of education (school provides norms and culture to the majority), at present all Romany associations and non-governmental organizations are undertaking this task. Te first contact with a school is, for a Romany child, an entry into the other, unknown world. Often in contrast with classmates, a Romany pupil does not know the language a teacher speaks and s/he is not able to communicate efficiently with peers. Very often a lot of peers, but also their parents, are hostile to Romany people. This is the reason why a Romany child must leave his/her Romany identity at home and become somebody else at school. Thus Romany are often multicultural as well as multilingual. On particular stages of individual development, all sorts of groups play a dominant role in the process of defining oneself. Te family, but also the school, the Church, institutions and various organizations transfer the knowledge about the history, literature, language, art or material culture of the country ancestors. Te actions shown in this article are carried out in one of Wroclaw primary schools where for a few years the government program for the Romany com-munity in Poland is fulfilled. Te school is also conducting a long-term cooperation (also visiting trips for pupils) with schools in Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Romania. Tis action has a cognitive and integration character because it lets the school carry out the multidirectional activity within the scope of multicultural and cross-cultural education. All actions gain strong interest of pupils as well as parents, who willingly support the school during the stay of foreign guests in Poland and during meetings and local parties. Te main aim of this action is to educate pupils - young citizens, Poles, Europeans on respect and tolerance to other national and ethnic minorities, and also develop patriotism amongst pupils with relation to symbols and national traditions. Te actions described above concern longterm programs and projects carried out with the help of the local community, associations and non-governmental organizations and inhabitants of the housing estate district including parents.
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