Students and supporters from as many as six states came to this year's Youth Ball organized by the Polish Youth Association. This year, PSM celebrates its 5th anniversary and launched its very own scholarship program named after Eugenia Aniśko.
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New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and Massachusetts are states where the Polish Youth Association has its members and supporters. Representatives of student clubs operating at universities in these states, from Rutgers through the University of Pittsburgh, St. John's University, Columbia, to Yale, participated in this year's Youth Ball. "Among us are students, graduates, as well as students of Polish Supplementary Schools," said Jakub Staniewski, President of the Polish Youth Association, which was established in 2019 and is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. He added that the Polish Youth Association is a federation uniting Polish student clubs at universities in the USA and Canada.
During the ball, Jakub Staniewski announced that the Polish Youth Association is launching a scholarship program in honor of Eugenia Aniśko – a Polish community activist, founder, and longtime principal of the Polish Supplementary School in Clark, NJ, which was the most vibrant school on the East Coast. "Our organization consists of youth and exists for the youth. Its goal is to support the most ambitious among the Polish youth living in the United States. Those who have the potential to change the world. We want to invest in the potential that lies within the young," said Staniewski in an interview with "Nowy Dziennik." The scholarship fund will be fueled by the proceeds from the first three Youth Balls, and the application process for this year's program will be announced in spring, with the scholarships awarded in mid-year.
In addition to the scholarship, the association is preparing a series of other programs and events this year. "We have listened to the suggestions of the youth, which is eager to integrate, and we are implementing them," said Jakub Staniewski, announcing skiing trips, a networking meeting at the Consulate General of Poland, as well as a Valentine's Day disco at the Polish-Slavic Center. "The tradition of discos for students and youth is returning. They play an important integrative role in our community. They enable contact with new young people, whom we can then encourage to get involved in events organized by other Polish organizations and integrate into the broader Polish community," said the President of the Polish Youth Association.
The Polish Youth Association has been in existence for 5 years. In this short period, the number of members in this organization has grown to over three thousand. "Anyone can be a member of the Polish Youth Association, but our programs are aimed at individuals aged 15 to 30. You don't have to be Polish to participate in our events," said Staniewski. The majority of Polish Youth Association members are current students of Polish schools, as well as students and graduates of American and Canadian universities. "Graduates become mentors to younger members of the association," says Staniewski, who himself notes a decade of service in Polish community this year.
This year's Youth Ball took place at Da Mikele Illagio in New York, with the Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union as its main sponsor. It was the third one organized by the Polish Youth Association but the 22nd in the tradition of the Student/Scholarship Balls initiated in 1997 by the then-active Polish Student Organization (PSO), which, after 30 years of activity, was taken over and merged with the Polish Youth Association in 2021.
The first ball in the Youth Ball series took place two years ago and gathered 200 people. The following one attracted 300 attendees, and this year's event had 400 participants. Each of the balls has its own theme, such as The Great Gatsby or, like this year's, The Enchanted Garden.
"During my speeches at conferences in Poland, I was asked to reveal the secret of success. I explained that some consider success to be the ability to change the world. However, it's not about changing the entire world. Changing the world for one person is already an incredible success, so let's remember to inspire each other, get to know each other, and build the strength and future of the Polish community," said Jakub Staniewski during the ball.
The Youth Ball was placed under the patronage of the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York, Adrian Kubicki, who congratulated the youth on their activities during the ball, emphasizing the importance of identifying with the Polish community and acknowledging one's Polish roots.
Dr. Dorota Andraka, the President of the Central Polish Supplementary Schools, expressed appreciation for the members of student clubs for their efforts in preserving the knowledge of the Polish language. Additionally, Piotr Praszkowicz, the Grand Marshal of the Pulaski Day Parade 2024, invited the youth to the Pulaski Parade, reminding them that over 200 members of PSM march on Fifth Avenue every year. Among the special guests of the ball were also Cezary Kulesza, the President of the Polish Football Association (PZPN), and Marian Żak, the President of the Polish-Slavic Center, along with his spouse.
Source: Aleksandra Słabisz / Nowy Dziennik