Readers’ letters – “Kartka dla Bratanka/üdvözlet-egy-Barátnak 2016 ” turned out to be successful and participating in its final day, 23rd of March.
The idea of organizing an initiative that would make Polish citizens actively participate in a celebration of Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day first occurred to me in December last year and was made public on Facebook as a page and event about month later, i.e. 27th of January 2016. I wanted to show that Polish-Hungarian friendship is still a current thing and we should celebrate it not only through official channels like meetings of ambassadors or presidents but also through grass root initiatives. The aim of Kartka dla Bratanka, that is collecting as many greeting postcards for Hungarians from different parts of Poland, was simple, innovative and, what is important, manageable. I received great support and positive feedback regarding the plan for “Kartka dla Bratanka” from many Poles during its duration.
What the initiative lacked from the beginning was time. We had only 54 days till Polish-Hungarian Friendship day, but nevertheless we managed to collect more than 400 cards! 200 of them were sent by post from more than fifty cities of Poland and another 200 were printed from digital designs made by students in Polish primary and secondary schools. We also got postcards sent by Poles living abroad, e.g. in England and in Germany. I was really surprised and overwhelmed by how many got involved in this initiative! With the big pack of cards, I left to Hungary on Monday, 21st of March.
The plan was simple: to approach citizens of Budapest in the streets, hand them cards and explain briefly the occasion. My level of Hungarian is pretty basic, so I mastered few sentences like “Hello, today is Polish-Hungarian Friendship day. Here, this is a card for you from Poland”.
I consider myself very lucky, because during the time of the initiative I was contacted by a Hungarian blogger, Gabriella Kovacs, who had lived for four years in Poland, and offered her support with the initiative in Budapest. Her support was priceless – not only did she assist with the distribution of cards that day, but she also gave me loads of useful advice and provided detailed explanations of the initiative for those people who asked further questions. I wouldn’t have been able to do that with my Hungarian language skills.
We started giving out the cards at 9.30 a.m. and we visited almost all of the districts of Budapest by travelling with all of the metro lines. The reactions of the citizens of Budapest who received a card from us were in most cases very positive. The elderly people would thank us cordially for the nice surprise and tell us about their experiences with Poles; for example one elderly gentleman stopped us near Nyugati Palyaudvar and told us about his grandfather who helped many Polish refugees during WWII and how good the bond they had with each other was. At the end of our conversation he literally stroked my head and wished me all the best. The younger Budapestians were also very open – I received only kind reactions from them and in contrast to the older people, they were more eager to agree to take a photo with us. In many cases I heard from them that the nice greeting card made them feel better on their way to work or that it was a very kind and unusual gesture.
For the whole duration of Kartka dla Bratanka’s final day I did not experience any kind of hostility. There were only a few refusals of taking the greeting cards, but only because we might have been perceived as a street sellers or con men at first sight. (Well, it is kind of understandable: two girls wearing casual clothes, asking something on the street and showing colorful cards? That really could look like some kind of money wheedling!)
All in all, I have to admit it was fantastic experience and I consider the initiative to be fully successful.
The distribution of the cards around the town took me around six hours and was pretty exhausting, but at the end very satisfying. If I could go back in time, I would probably try to improve a few things regarding the organization and technical matters. But this will be a project for the next edition of the event, which I am really hoping to organize in 2017.
Readers’ letters by Emilia Gajewska
Source: Daily News Hungary