REM – Poznań Blog by Jasmyn Stitch (Marketing & Communication Officer District 1145)
From October 8th to 11th the city of Poznań, Poland was filled with almost 350 Rotaractors from 35 different countries mingling with the 552,393 inhabitants and learning about their city. What a feat! If you weren’t there, here’s what you missed; The Welcome Party at Browar Pub Słodownia, which was an absolute blast! It kicked off at 21h00 underneath the Old Brewery Shopping Mall, Stary Browar.
If you ever find yourself in Poznań, you can’t miss the Shopping Mall – it’s just over 130 000 m², home to over 210 shops, galleries and eateries. It’s built on the base of a historic factory, the former Brewery Huggerów, which was one of the biggest breweries in Poznań (in the 1600s there were an estimated 72 to 78 breweries in the city, and Poznań was once one of the biggest producers of cider in all of Europe)! So it was only appropriate to be offered some complimentary Polish alcohol in the Old Brewery when the party began! It went on until the early hours of the morning, which made it difficult for some to get out of bed for breakfast the next day.
For the better part of Friday people were attending the extra activities – canoeing on the Cybina river, Brewerish Poznań (which included touring the Old Brewery and local pubs), the Rogal Workshop (this included learning how to make the St Martin’s croissant, which can only be made in Poznań – in a very Rotaract fashion, these delicious croissants are made to feed the poor as well as to be sold!), the Fiat City Tour (who doesn’t want to tour in through the post-communist areas of Poznań in a Fiat 125p or a Fiat 126p, the symbols of post-communist Poland?), Polish Wine and Polish Cider tasting (which included locally made cheeses and meats – yum!), and the walking City Tour through the old parts of Poznań. These activities were spread out through Friday and Saturday. From 18h00 the Country Representatives had their Country Booths set up at the Apollo Cinema to showcase their countries before the Opening Ceremony at 19h30.
During the Opening Ceremony we had a word from our lovely HOC team before the Flag Ceremony and the National Anthems. District 2230 Governor Barbara Pawlisz of the Rotary Club of Sopot International gave a lovely speech about the international connections of Rotaract, the President of the Rotary Club of Poznań Paweł Bugajny talked about how Rotaract is the future of Rotary, and District 2230’s Rotaract Representative Marcel Trzak from the Rotaract Club of Kraków Wawel gave us a very warm welcome and made it very clear that all Rotaractors are welcome in District 2230 (which is one of the largest Districts in Rotary – it includes Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine! and will be well looked after. After these speeches a troupe of Traditional Polish Dancers came on stage and blew us away – this wasn’t just the Polka!
Once the Opening Ceremony was closed, and REM Poznań had officially started, we were served delicious Polish cuisine (a word of advice – if you see something that looks like mashed potatoes, double check with someone before shovelling a giant spoonful in your mouth – you may discover that it’s fat that you’re supposed to spread on bread…you only make that mistake once!) and ushered off to the Opening Party at Blueberry Bar. The Opening Party was a great chance for the Rotaractors to mingle and get to know each other better!
Saturday brought more of the extra activities, as well as the E.R.I.C (European Rotaract Information Centre) Meeting from 9h00 to 16h00. They assure us that they were talking business, the topic being “Rotaractors Doing Business Together”, but if you look at the videos they’ve posted you may not be convinced!
The poker-themed Gala Dinner started at 20h00 at the Earth Hall in the Poznań Congress Centre. Luckily, buses were arranged so that the participants wouldn’t have to walk in the cold in their beautiful black tie attire (especially the ladies – ankles and toes get quite chilly when it’s -2C out!).
The guests felt like superstars walking down the red carpet that was laid down and being handed glasses of sparkling wine. The wait in the foyer wasn’t long, and everyone was soon rushed into Earth Hall to find their tables and mingle. The HOC team gave a lovely speech and invited the REM Saint Petersburg team, as well as the newly voted REM Athens team, to come up and give a few words. E.R.I.C President Veronica Bradaschia shared her thoughts on Poznan’s REM and held a minute’s silence for the tragic events that happened in Ankara, Turkey over the weekend.
Dinner was a delicious five-course affair which was later danced off into the wee hours of the morning. If people weren’t dancing they were trying their luck at the poker tables, making silly faces in the photo booths, or taking as many selfies with their international friends as possible!
Sunday was a sad day for everyone – some had extra adventures and set off for them, but most of us made our teary partings and trudged off to the buses that were waiting to take us off to the airport. These were “See you later”s rather than “Goodbyes” – that’s the wonderful thing about the Rotary family, and the age of modern technology, nobody is too far out of reach.
All in all, it was an incredible adventure and a fantastic way to meet international members of the Rotaract family.
Do you like the sound of a REM Meeting and want to learn more? Check out the E.R.I.C website, the REM Poznań site where you can also find photos and more information about what has been described here, or get in touch with one of your local District Committee Members who will be able to tell you more! If we’ve already convinced you, and you want to know about the next REM, check out the REM St Petersburg Facebook Page! Registration opens on October 15th, 2015 and the REM is January 7th to January 10th (if you don’t decide to attend the PRE-REM Trip to Helsinki or the POST-REM Trip to Moscow)!
If you’d like to know more about REMs past, present, or future (or about EUCO/European Convention) or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Jasmyn Stich, the author of this article, Epsom Rotaract International Officer and District 1145’s Rotaract Communications Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chike Eduputa the ERIC Representatvie of RotaractGBI on email@example.com
The wonderful photos are courtesy of Craig Simons of the Rotaract Club of Hempstead, Hendon, and Golders Green as well as the Rotaract Club of Poznań.