The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

Week of Mourning: Day 3



In the book “The Little Town Where Time Stood Still,” written by Bohumil Hrabal, the head of the family spends most of his time disassembling and reassembling the engine of his beloved motorbike. What is more, he wants everyone without exception to take part in the dismemberment and in the process of making it work again. He does not give up even when he sees how uneager and uninvolved his helpers get.

The broken engine can be a metaphor for our society. It consists of many small pieces and each one is crucial for its mechanism. If we want to improve our society we should start by improving ourselves.

Bożena Gręda


“You can’t change the world

But you can change the facts

And when you change the facts

You change points of view

If you change points of view

You may change a vote

And when you change a vote

You may change the world.”

Fragment from Martin Lee Gore’s song,“New Dress,” quoted by Lukasz Grembowiec


What Would You Like to Change in Your Society?

Someone asked me this question when I was in Junior high school. I have to admit that my opinion has not changed much since that time. To make things clear I have to state one thing: I am completely apolitical. I haven`t got the vaguest idea what is going on in politics. I always felt abomination towards it. My opinions are based on my day-to-day life, and sometimes, my journeys.

I like Cracovian pigeons. They are so beautiful and sweet; when I walk through the town I admire their coquettish grace. But then often another thought crosses my mind: there are people who live like pigeons.

During my second year I had free time between classes. In the Planty park near the buss station next to Bagatela theatre there often was a homeless person who fed pigeons. They were completely fearless; however, they behaved in different way than they usually do near the Market Square. They stayed for a long time with the man, even if there was no more food. I saw that scene almost every day. Birds sat on the man, picking at the dry bread that he held in his half open mouth. He permitted this. He looked almost happy.

I know what pigeons give me. But what do they give him?  Distraction? Company?

The system that ignores people living in poverty is not befitting a country that is supposed to be civilised.

I hate people talking about the homeless in such terms:

“They take drugs, that is the cause of their situation,”

“They are alcoholic,”

“It’s their business what they do with their lives,” or

“I owe nothing to other people. All I achieved I achieved with my own hands.”

There is such a small step that divides us from their situation. Imagine losing your health, your business or your home…


What would I like to change in my society?

Nearly everything could be changed, but the most important changes should be done in people`s minds.


There is an old TV show called Star Trek (the one aired in the 60’s, not the newer series). It advocates the worthiness of knowledge and exploration. The Earth, called Terra, is presented as a beautiful garden without poverty, wars and hunger. Another name for it is the United Earth. The institution created for deep space exploration and scientific cooperation with other races is called the Federation of the United Planets. It represents equality of all races regardless of the world they come from. The economic system takes into consideration the worth of the individual, as well as the diversity of cultures. The main characters present a high level of morality and personal culture. The relationships among them are based on deep friendship, tolerance and understanding.

This is the way I would like to see our country and the world, in general.

“Infinite diversity in infinite combination creates understanding and beauty”.

Ewa Tratkiewicz


Diplomacy as a life style seems easy. However, it is far from that. True diplomacy springs from a conscious effort towards curbing instinctive first replies, from endless dress rehearsals, and from a self-taught desire to take a step back before taking a step forward in order to deal with breakable things even before they get broken.

What about your dress rehearsals for change?

Filed under: ■ Poland, ■ Week of Mourning 2010, ■ Writing Samples

3 Responses

  1. Przemek says:

    You may find it interesting to know about the “Urgent Evoke – A crash course in changing the world”.
    This is an extract from their site:
    “The goal of the social network game is to help empower young people all over the world to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems.”
    Just give it a try! 😉

  2. Łukasz G. says:

    These words made me recall a song I wrote 2 years ago. This is a little quote from it:

    “Did you ever thought about
    changing your point of view
    It’s not as simple as you think
    The world doesn’t spin around you.
    What do you expect from us?
    Running in fear?
    Try to find the place where you belong
    And sing:

    No more tears and
    No more falling down
    I will smile, the sun will shine
    And nothing’s gonna change my mind”

    Name it foolish, but at that time it definitely wasn’t.

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