2013 promo video below (for a post-event summary visit here).
The Iskra University Bootcamp is an event run by the PISK executive team, along with the help of Polonia volunteers and community leaders. Iskra is PISK’s high school integration project, preparing teenagers for post-secondary life through university tours and through access to successful Polonia mentors. 2015 project leaders are Mike Kustra and Natalia Kusendova from Toronto, joined by a support team from across southern Ontario including Andrzej Dąbrowski, Paula Poniatowska, Paulina Pędziwiatr, Ania Rak, and Andrzej Wysocki. The boot camp is filled with learning, networking, and skill development workshops, games, and seminars. It involves supervised overnight stay and several excursions to the University of Toronto, the Polish Consulate and the Polish Combatants’ Hall in Toronto.
Iskra is designed to get young Polonia active, involved and ready for university through early networking both with others in their age group as well as with prominent graduate students and young professionals already present in our Polish-Canadian community. The boot camp is set to propel Polish high school students who are seeking mentorship, leadership opportunities, and an early jump-start in their careers.
Why do we do this? Well, as we at PISK slowly enter the ranks of young professional we find ourselves wanting to motivate young and upcoming Polonia leaders to continue our initiatives, take over our current roles and join us in ensuring the passing-on of the wonderful culture, heritage, and traditions that have been afforded us.
Who is this for? Easy. Students with Polish ties—ancestral background or even just a genuine interest in “things Polish”—from across Canada are invited to apply, though this initiative will be particularly beneficial to senior high school students looking to start university in 2013-14. The Iskra University Bootcamp marks the first such event for pre-university Polonia, and is an important step in the vibrant life of Polonia worldwide. Join us in sparking up your own potential!
The initiative started with Paul, Magdalene, and Joanna Sulżycki out of Hamilton in the fall of 2012. The siblings regretted that they had started exploring their identity only later on in university. Together with a few friends, they started reaching out to local Polish high schools across the region. The group’s goal was to foster a deeper sense of community in local Polonia and to encourage high school students to join networks already set up by the slightly-older generation that was just then finishing undergraduate studies.
Though the lofty goal of running a youth conference in 2012 didn’t pan out, the group quickly expanded to four teams across Ontario and ran a combined 12 high school presentations and university tours for high school Polonia by the end of June, 2013. Below is a video explaining the need for a project like Iskra, containing many key players involved in it from the start: