On the occasion of the Independence Day of Poland, Polish ambassador to Việt Nam, Wojciech Gerwel, wrote to Việt Nam News.
This year Poland and Việt Nam celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. In normal circumstances this should have been a year of many festivities, attesting to the exceptional relationship that the two countries have forged over generations of close co-operation.
Polish Marta Kisiliczyk's painting titled "Transformation”. Photo courtesy of Marta Kisiliczyk.
In reality, celebrations had to be scaled down in the sombre context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is precisely in challenging times that tested friendships gain significance. There are many facets of the special bond between Poland and Việt Nam, but in this short article, I will mention only a few recent achievements and cultural projects.
Above all, we will never forget in Poland the gestures of solidarity that the Vietnamese people extended to our nation at the outset of the pandemic, such as sending medical supplies or delivering meals to Polish doctors. Such gestures were undertaken spontaneously by Vietnamese alumni of Polish universities and by members of a large Vietnamese community in Poland. I applaud these efforts. There is nothing in terms of festivities that we could have organised this year that would have made a more lasting imprint on our bilateral relationship than these symbolic gestures.
In fact, the last seventy years in Polish-Vietnamese relations have been replete with countless gestures of solidarity and friendly co-operation. The large Polish-Vietnamese High School in Hà Nội stands as one of many examples of such a cooperation. The Polish Embassy has continued to support this longstanding project. Over the past two years, we have worked with the largest Polish investor in Việt Nam to improve the school’s digital infrastructure and provide additional training in English and in hard sciences. This year we have also started the process to mark the 40th anniversary of the arrival to Việt Nam of Polish experts specialising in the conservation of historic monuments. They were pioneers of restoration efforts in many prominent heritage sites, such as Huế, Hội An, Mỹ Sơn and Củ Chi.
Despite the abovementioned constraints of 2020, in the remainder of this year, we will be able to offer to friends in Việt Nam a number of opportunities to explore Polish culture. On November 13-19, the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum will hold an exhibition of a talented Polish painter Marta Kisiliczyk, entitled Transformation. Afterwards, we will launch the Vietnamese translation of Flights (Bieguni) by Olga Tokarczuk, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2018 as the sixth author from Poland.
Autumn in Szklarka Valley. Karkonosze Mountains, Poland. Photo courtesy of Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
For those who wish to explore Polish culture in greater depth, I recommend signing up for introductory courses in Polish language at the University of Hà Nội (it is still not too late and the course is open to students from outside the university!). The Polish language is very expressive and it allows for special insights into a fascinating culture at the heart of Europe.
Finally, this month concludes the second edition of the Wikipedia contest in the Vietnamese language about Poland. As a result, thousands of entries on Polish culture have been made available to Vietnamese readers. I hope that those entries will facilitate initial explorations into Poland’s complex and vibrant culture from the comfort of many Vietnamese homes.
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, in Poland we look forward to building on the rich tradition of close co-operation with Việt Nam in order to forge ever-closer bilateral ties in the years to come. VNS