New York, London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Toronto, Dubai.
These are some of the cities on the list of “10 Most Multicultural Cities in The World”.
I have been to two of these, and it suffices to say, each time I had to come back to Warsaw, I left a bit of my heart there…
Why is the social diversity of a city important for immigrants to want to settle there? First thought of the top of my head – Home is where the heart is. There has to be more to a place than a means of livelihood, educational possibilities or quick hedonist fixes (tis why every Spanish boy comes to the land by the Vistula…pictures of Polish girls and the price of beverages are mucho convincing). But if after all the fun and games, a city makes you forget to miss where you grew up – it definitely can be called home.
As pretty and willing as the girls may be, Warsaw is not a popular destination for immigrants looking for new lands to set their roots, nor is it a popular option for those who could possibly decide to settle here after work contracts or university courses have ended. For a European country as large and as populated as Poland, one would expect at least one of its cities to be befitting of the description “Multicultural”.
I have seen too many single mothers whose foreign-born partners decided to move to greener grass. I know too many young people who move West (and sometimes East) when they realize they’ve seen everything their motherland has to offer. For every person who falls in love with Warsaw, I know 2 who can’t wait to leave.
I went to watch the Warsaw Multicultural Street Party today, and I was extremely disappointed.
I remember the 1st time it was organized in 2007. I remember immigrants coming out to represent their different cultures. I remember people dancing in the street – Black, Brown, Pale, White, Ginger, Strawberry…all races coming together to enjoy a summer street fiesta. I remember Warsaw being rich in social delights and adventure.
Today almost everyone at the “Multicultural” street party was Polish. The only foreigners present were those representing various organisations, promoting goods (foods, etc.) and services. Everyone else was a Pole out with the family on a Sunday stroll.
Where are the thousands of foreigners who call Warsaw home? Harenda, Bollywood, and other culture-specific nightclubs should not be the only reason we get out of bed in order to celebrate our different cultures.
On the other hand, with the items on display and the activities which I witnessed in the early afternoon, today’s festival was obviously organized for the Polish client – an introduction to exoticness.
Good for them. However, after seeing all that the Notting Hill Carnival and the Kwaku Festival have to offer to the world, it’s safe to say today’s Warsaw Festival was not worth the flash of my camera.
What upset me most was the decision to set up a debate tent with the aim of discussing this topic “Komu nie zależy na wielokulturowej Warszawie?” – loose translation: “Who isn’t interested in a multicultural Warsaw?”
A debate on what? If other cultures are welcome in Warsaw? Because why? I can’t even.