Ewelina O’Donnell, a Polish native now living in the Londonderry area, tells of her hopes that a new internet TV show will help inform both Polish and local people
On Sunday December 15 in Sean Hollywood Arts Centre in Newry the official launch of Polish TV and ‘Ewelina’s show’-my show- is going to take place. It will be a very exciting day for a large Polish Community in N. Ireland and I am certainly honoured to be asked to present the show and also write a script and choose the content for each episode.
When I moved to Derry in 2007 following my heart I knew very little about N. Ireland and I didn’t realize how many people from my country chose here as their home. Working as a language teacher, university lecturer and a public interpreter for the last 6 years I’ve learned a lot about Irish people, their culture, mentality and understood why us Polish feel so comfortable here and why at the moment there are around 30.000 of Polish people living and working in N. Ireland.
It is a significant figure taking into consideration that this country is around 5 times smaller than Poland.
Through my work I stay in a very close touch with both communities N. Irish and Polish and I talk to many people on every day basis.
These conversations over the years made me realized that even though our countries are only two hours away from each other by plane we don’t know much about our way of living, traditions and history.
I also noticed that there is not much of a representation in media for the Polish community.
Our dreams are possible to come true only if we meet the right people who would understand our passion and share our views on life.
In 2008 I was privileged to meet Gerry Anderson who at that stage was working on a radio documentary about Polish Community in N. Ireland ‘Work! Work!Work!’ for BBC Radio Ulster.
I took part in this project and spent a lot of time discussing connections and similarities between Polish and Irish people. From that day Gerry became what I call ‘An Ambassador for Polish people in N. Ireland’.
Iwas frequently invited as aguest on his morning show when we talked about all kinds of interesting things happening amongst my community here, announced various events organized by Polish organizations and schools, promoted Poland as a holiday destination and discussed many opportunities that Polish and Irish people can take advantage of by working together.
Gerry gave me confidence to represent my community and encouraged me to discover even more about the connections between our nations. In 2010 I took part in Polish episode of ‘The Culture Club’ programme for BBC 1 followed by ‘Slack Sabbath’ documentary by Tern TV for BBC1 in 2012.
Both programmes showed different aspects of the life of Polish community here on the Green Island and after those recordings I felt even more motivated and enthusiastic to tell more stories and to open the door to Poland even wider.
Honorary Consul of Poland in N. Ireland Jerome Mullen always shared my passion for giving Polish people strong representation in media and I wasn’t surprised when he approached me in September 2013 and invited me to take part in launching Polska TV internet channel here and to present my own regular show on it.
I agreed with pleasure but also from the beginning felt huge responsibility to do it right as I will be speaking on behalf of all Polish people living in N. Ireland.
Today when the first episode of my show is recorded and invited guests will watch it for the first time during the launch in Newry I look back at the last six years of my life here, at my experiences, interesting meetings and all the journey that led to this day.
As we are launching the show in a festive season I made it predominantly about Christmas, the time of the year when Polish traditions are shown at their best. An hour programme shall give an Irish audience an opportunity to learn a lot about Poland and Polish people, about business and travel opportunities that my country brings and customs that you might find amusing or surprising at times. I’m willing to show positive examples of Poles living here, their achievements and interesting life stories.
As a PR of Polish Abroad Saturday School I will take you on a trip to Polish educational establishments in N. Ireland, show how young Polish people overcome various barriers and achieve their dreams.In this episode you can meet my students from GCSE group in Polish Abroad Saturday School in Strathfoyle and various local secondary schools.
They represent a young generation of Polish people, some were born here, some have just recently moved in but what is beautiful about them is the fact that they want to maintain their identity and at the same time mix well with N. Irish teenagers.
What I hope to achieve through my show in time is for viewers to notice and understand all similarities between Polish and Irish people and cherish them instead of concentrating on differences between us.
That is why I ended the first episode of my show with an exclusive interview with Gerry Anderson during the Première of his last film about Derry ‘A City Dreaming’ on 6th of December in St. Columb’s Hall’.
It is a very emotional move that in my opinion captures the uniqueness of Derry people who always maintained their pride, inner happiness and strength. N. Irish people are just like us, our history, traditions, beliefs, inner qualities are exactly the same and how uplifting it is to realize that! We are the same kind of people!
nEwelina’s show will be available online on Polish TV channel after 15th of December on www.vadio.ie/polishtv and also on Ireland Poland Chamber of Commerce website www.irelandpolandchamber.com and polishabroad.co.uk