On Friday March 22, the volunteers were invited by the City Council to talk about the ‘Open Kraków’ program. The program was briefly presented to us after which we were able to ask questions.
Open Kraków, or Otwarty Kraków in Polish, is a program created in 2016 by the City Council aiming to create an sense of solidarity, awareness and knowledge of the culture and customs of people of different nationality or ethnicity living in Krakow.
The program is firstly addressed to foreigners living in Poland by providing assistance for various issues. Some parts of the program however are also addressed to all of Krakow’s citizens, such as a multicultural festival.
As the program is still recent it is still a work in progress, but the main achievements already obtained include:
- A welcome package for foreigners which consists of a guidebook full of information about education, health care, social benefits, insurance, work principles, the procedure in cases of crime, renting apartments, driving license, legal advice etc. The guidebook can be downloaded for free here. Additionally, a Krakow guide for families was also created.
- Information Point for Foreigners, launched in April 2018. The aim of this information point is to provide information on all kinds of subjects in Polish, English, Ukrainian and Russian. In addition to these four languages, help might be provided in another language as the Information Point tries to compose a team as diversified is possible language-wise. The main focus lays on increasing the knowledge of foreigners about their rights and obligations and issues related to city life, increasing civic involvement of the foreigners living in Krakow and their integration with the inhabitants of Krakow and strengthening the information and promotion of activities in the area of integration of foreigners.
- Interkulturalia Festival with the aim of integrating the local environment around the idea of cultural diversity, good neighborlines, the community of regional and European heritage and respect for religion.
- Educational and informational activities such as Polish-Ukrainian Culinary-Educational Workshops and Middle East Speaks
- Conferences referring to the idea of multiculturalism. Issues addressed include gender balance in leadership, multicultural schools, dialogue and intercultural cooperation, Polish Armenians on the path to Polish Independence, migration etc.
- MURAL project in cooperation with Great Britain, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands and Germany. This project’s aim is to promote the principles of pluralism and democracy, to support transnational cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and the most effective practices to counteract intolerance.
A few volunteers had some questions about the program as well. Most questions concerned either the specifics of their educational program or the residence / work permit application procedure for non-EU citizens. The question about the educational program was asked by those working in a primary school as they wanted to know what exactly the workshop held in schools consisted of.
More information about the Open Kraków program can be found on their official website.