A project THE GREEN LUNGS OF POLAND – THE BREATH OF HISTORY, THE WAFT OF THE PRESENT offers a new approach to the thousand years of history, heritage and national identity of the inhabitants of north-eastern part of Catholic Poland, which we want to share with the participants of the World Youth Day (WYD) in 2016. This project is composed of three elements, all local in scope. These three elements will challenge the stereotypes foreigners make about Poland. This aim will be realised through study visits, development of communication skills among the local hosts by their participation in tour guiding workshops, and the recording of these experiences through the multimedia platform using a website, mobile app and an illustrated notepad for the participants.



THE GREEN LUNGS OF POLAND – THE BREATH OF HISTORY, THE WAFT OF THE PRESENT is a title, which alludes to two important dimensions of Polish identity: the Christian tradition and the potential that the country can offer to visitors and the participants of WYD 2016. The area of our Diocese is often referred to as the green lungs of Poland thanks to its incredible nature. This phrase, however, has another meaning – John Paul II said about Europe that is needs to breath with its two lungs: the East and the West. The Europeans should use the rich Christian tradition of the East and apply it into the culture and civilisation of the West. John Paul II visited our region because, as he claimed, it had been especially dear to him. Here, he experienced the wonders of the nature and got to know people, who he met during the kayak tours. Here he learned how to pray and gained strength to do his work. It is here where two oars (ora et labora), the symbol of Benedictine culture, were brought to the region by St. Bruno of Querfurt, whose thousand-year death anniversary we celebrated in 2009 at an international event in Giżycko. It is here where the Camedolese monks, through their settlement in Wigry, stimulated the agrarian development of the surrounding villages and thanks to their efforts Suwalki gained a city-status, which happened exactly 300 years ago. It is the soil, which heard the cries of the victims of the Augustów Roundup. It is here where the boarders of the Kingdom of Poland, The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and The Duchy of Prussia converged, which is commemorated by the boundary post from 1545 in Ostrykół near Ełk. These historical, religious, natural and social contexts perfectly match the ideas linked to the 1050th anniversary of the Christianisation of Poland and the International Youth Day in Cracow, which will be preceded by a week-long visit from young people from all around the world to our Diocese – known as the green lungs of Poland.


In order to make most out of these celebrations and to showcase this beautiful but impoverished land we are introducing the project entitled THE GREEN LUNGS OF POLAND – THE BREATH OF HISTORY, THE WAFT OF THE PRESENT which will involve three elements of a local scope.

The first element is the tour guiding workshops focusing on geographically and historically important places in the region. These workshops are addressed to the people, who want to help with hosting the guests participating in WYD (families, teenagers and children). The main aim of the workshops is to facilitate the communication between the guests and their hosts, who will be able to showcase the most beautiful and heroic moments from the history of the region.

The second element of the program, which will be one of the results of the workshops, is the multimedia visualisation in the form of mobile app, a website and the creation of the personal, illustrated notepad for the participants of WYD. The workshop participants, under the supervision of experienced teachers leading the workshop, will prepare a practical digital tools (website, mobile app) based on the knowledge they gained during classes in the language of their choice (English, Russian) and an illustrated notepad for all WYD participants assigned to our Diocese (10 000 people), which will be a souvenir from their stay in Poland. The website, the app and the notepad are going to be the main ways in which we will promote the POLAND BRAND.

The study visit through historic places and Papal Trails, which will conclude at Wigry Peninsula and in Ełk, is the third element of the programme. The guests of WYD will have an opportunity to familiarise themselves with region’s history, cuisine and nature. They will visit the historic places in Ełk and Ostrykół (ex. the boundary post from 1545), see the unique chapel on the water raised on the 12 oak poles in Studzeniczna, and appreciate the nature reserve in Ruda, where local workers extracted copper in Augustów Forest. In Giby they will learn about Augustów Roundup by visiting the monument where each stone symbolises one of the victims. They will also visit a local parish church where the chandeliers are made out of deer’s antlers. In Sejny guest will have an opportunity to learn about the history of three cultures – Polish, Latvian and Jewish and in the basilica they will see a unique statue of Virgin Mary, which was crowned by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. In the Wigry Museum our guests will get a chance to learn about different species living in the National Park. In the post-Camaldolese Monastery in Wigry they will bake a regional speciality cake – sękacz and cook kartacze a Polish-Latvian dish, which was served to the Pope John Paul II during his visit. The guests will also discover a Camaldolese’s secret which lead to the termination of this community in 1796, the deportation of the monks by Prussian government in 1800, and the devastation to the buildings during Second World War. Additionally, as a generation JPII they will travel in John Paul’s footsteps following the Papal Trails either in the ship Triton or in a kayak. They will get a chance to see where Pope went on holidays and rested (ex. apartments in Wigry and Studzieniczna). The guests will use the mobile app and the notepad which will allow them to make notes about their experiences, thoughts and observations. The presence of 1000 people – the participants of WYD both from Poland and abroad – in the places which are important for Polish history and identity will allowing them to familiarise themselves with Polish landscape and cuisine. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways to build strong BRAND POLAND among the hosts and guests participating in WYD in our Diocese.


Our project is addressed to two groups. First group consists of the inhabitants of the Diocese of Ełk (families and young people), who want to engage in welcoming and hosting of young people from Poland and abroad, who will visit us in 2016. This group will take part in the project through participation in the tour guiding workshops. Second group consists of young people – the participants of WYD 2016, who will spend a few days in our region before leaving for Cracow. They will benefit from the multimedia platform (website, mobile app and illustrated notepad) and an interesting study visit, which no doubt will change the stereotypes about Poland.



Our project aims at enforcing the positive image of Poland among the World Youth Day participants and preventing the creation of negative stereotypes in the historical and intercultural dialogue.
This aim will be achieved through:
increasing the competences of the hosts which will lead to the enhanced communication between the hosts and the guests;

demonstrating Polish route to freedom and independence;

showcasing of our national heritage and its Christian roots enriched by the traditions of the region, testifying to the strong national identity;

showing the natural beauty of the north-western Poland and leading the guests through the Papal Trails named after the originator of the WYD;

presenting Poland as a strategic partner (for the former USSR countries), who is guarding the Christian values and the ideas of freedom, democracy and solidarity.