The year 2009 is exceptional for Lithuania for several reasons. First, it is the 1000th anniversary of the year when the name “Lithuania” was mentioned for the first time in historical sources. Second, the capital of Lithuania Vilnius fulfills an honorable function of European Capital of Culture. The Fist World Congress of Wilniuki – Vilnius 2009, which is arranged for the 1st decade of August.

Long ago, due to the whirls of history, many Vilnius-born people were forced to leave their city. They dispersed all over the world. There is no country in the world where so-called Wilniuki or their descendants would not live. (Wilniuki is the Polish name for people who live or who left Land of Vilnius/Wilno). The First World Congress of Wilniuki - Vilnius 2009 is organized for Wilniuki of all generations, descents and choices; for those who are not indifferent to Vilnius. During 9-16 August Vilnius will be hosting its descendants, the ones who have become the ambassadors for our city to the most distant parts of our world. Over 300 thousand Poles from Vilnius region, indigenous people to the region, will be hosting the meeting. Different events will take place in the frames of The First World Congress of Wilniuki: a number of events propagating contemporary culture of Vilnius and Lithuania; a lot of integrated events, which reflect multinational and multicultural side of the capital of Lithuania; events that reflect centuries old achievements of Vilnius as well as contemporary character of our town.

The First World Congress of Wilniuki is an eight-day meeting of former Vilnius and Vilnius region inhabitants, who in the past century had to leave their city for various reasons, and their families, descendants and friends – all those who consider themselves to be Wilniuki or simply love Vilnius. Today Wilniuki live almost all over the world but most of them live in Poland (at least a few hundred people), the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, The Republic of South Africa, Australia ( in total they make a few ten-hundred’s society).

As regards nationality, they all consider themselves Poles and identify themselves with Polish culture, although many of them are proud of their Tartar, Karaite, Byelorussian, Lithuanian or Jewish roots. Through many years, their ancestors created this unique conglomerate of nations, cultures and religions coexisting peacefully in Vilnius.

Close ties with Polish culture and traditions of Great Duchy of Lithuania created specific local patriotism and strong emotional ties with Small Homeland. Historical blasts in the XX century dispersed not only Poles but also Lithuanians, Jews and Byelorussians all over the world. Having emigrated, they all retained love for Vilnius, that is why Wilniuki, without regard to their nationalities, usually kept close contacts with each other. For this reason, it is hoped that not only Poles but also their friends of different origin will visit native land during the First World Congress of Wilniuki.

A bond of friendship between great poets – Czeslaw Milosz and Tomas Venclova is a perfect example of national and ageless solidarity of Wilniuki.

The First World Congress of Wilniuki – Vilnius 2009 will represent unique multiculturalism of Vilnius on many grounds, considering historic and nowadays realities. It has been included in the program Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009, which shows that Lithuania is interested in presenting Polish cultural output to contemporary inhabitants of Vilnius and foreign guests as well.

 

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