The Instytut Kaszubski in Gdansk

By: Peter von Pazatka Lipinsky (First Published December 2003)

It was a very hot Monday in August and the thermometer reached another record high that day at 37°C. The runway at the Fuhlsbuttel Airport in Hamburg, Germany glistened in the noon head at LOT Airline flight #384 lifted off on its way to Gdansk, Poland. During the 1.5 hour flight, the landscape below was lush with greenery, rivers, small villages and scattered farms. Soon, the port of Gdansk came into view and it was just a matter of minutes before we touched down and cleared Polish custom. Arrangements had been made prior to my arrival in Gdansk, to have my cousin's son Gerhard or "Milka" (=short for Miloslawa) Borzyszkowska pick me up from the airport. After waiting a few minutes, a young lady approached me and asked if I was "Peter, from Canada?" It was so nice to finally meet the young lady that I had been corresponding with over the last couple of years. Milka did most of the letter and e-mail writing to me, for her father, Professor Dr. hab Jozef Borzyszkowsi. A few minutes later, Gerhard, my cousin's son also arrived. After introductions were made, Gerhard had to attend some urgent business and agreed to meet us later at the Instytut Kaszubski. It didn't take Milka very long to drive from the airport through old, historic Gdansk to the Instytut Kaszubski. We parked a few blocks away from the Instytut, since most of the streets had been taken over by a flea market. I had to stop to see what the different vendors had to sell and was very much surprised to find several very old German history books. Time, however, was of the essence, and the flea market would have to wait for another time (A reason to come back to Gdansk for another visit).

As Milka and myself entered the building in which the Instytut Kaszubski is located, I could hear a familiar voice from above, "Welcome to Poland - Welcome to Kaszubia." I looked up and could see Prof. Jozef Borzyszkowsi leaning over the railing of the staircase a couple of flights up. It had already been two years since the Professor had visited us in Canada and it was nice to see an old friend again here in Gdansk. We had so much to talk about! What the Instytut Kaszubski had accomplished in the past years and what lie ahead in the future. The record is quite impressive and Professor Dr. hab Jozef Borzyszkowsi is truly a good friend and supporter of all Kashubs, no matter what continent they live on. The Instytut Kaszuksi is supported by grants from the Polish Government as well as form private donations. Before too long it was time for a late lunch or early supper at the Kashubian Restaurant next door. A real Kashubian treat awaited us as we sat down for the meal consisting of: Potatoes, tomato salad, cucumber salad, dill pickles, peas, carrots, fried pork, fried chicken, and the traditional side dish of buckwheat. The cold mint and cold cucumber water was a welcome sight in the late, hot afternoon. At the Instytut, Gerhard reappeared and a short time later, we all went to the Professor's home, which is an extension of the Instytut. Hundreds of books and more Kashubian artifacts filled the home from the attic to the basement. Many of the books have been written by the Professor himself, with the latest one being the biography of Aleksander Majkowski (1876-1938), published in 2002. The afternoon went by far too fast and it was time for me to continue my visit to the home of my ancestors. With a handshake and a big hug we promised to stay in touch. And so we said our "Goodbye's" DOWIDEZNIA.

Later that evening, Gerhard drove down towards Puck and the peninsula of Hela/Helska, which was an extra bonus for me. I spent some time right on the Baltic Sean with some very interesting people and just had a wonderful evening. Around midnight, we finally made it back to Gdansk to catch some sleep and continue my Polish adventure the next day.

Please stay tuned for more interesting stories to come:

Instytut Kaszubski, w Gdansk

ul. Straganiarska 21 - 22

80 - 837, Gdansk, Polska / Poland