Report on ‘The Secrets of Historic Sites’ in Trybsz and Nowa Biała

The first part of the workshop was devoted to a presentation of the rich history of Spis and cultural diversity of the region. During the presentation all participants and teachers discussed the way we perceive other people, especially representatives of other cultures and traditions. To emphasise our point, we used an exercise in which the children received different boxes. Some of them were colourful and finely ornamented, some were grey and ordinary, while others were shabby and plain. Each box contained other, smaller boxes. The participants were able to see that some nicely wrapped boxes contained nothing interesting, and, what is more, they were often empty or had rubbish inside. In plain boxes, on the other hand, the children found treasures hidden under many layers of wrappings: colourful pebbles, flowers, seashells. The exercise illustrated a common cognitive error, often made by people in their relations with one another, and it also showed how complex and fascinating it is to get to know another human being.
The next part of the workshop centred on an art task: each participant was given their own piece of land in the form of a big puzzle piece made of foam. Clay, string, sticks and wire were then used to create uncanny lands whose inhabitants, climate and plant life varied greatly. Then we found ourselves in the imaginary Mistland, from where our protagonist, Jozik, set out on a trip. His extraordinary adventures on each island (told by the children) enriched his personality, helped him find new friends and made him understand how important co-operation is. The lands then mingled to form today’s Spis. The next task was to decorate paper boats, using special templates with Spis ornaments. In this way the children made unique postcard-boats whose message was coded and carried by water: in Trybsz, down the Trybska Rzeka river, and in Nowa Biała, down the Białka river. In Nowa Biała, besides the Spis Puzzle, we held a workshop The T-shirt Factory. Using a template, each child cut out a T-shirt for themselves and decorated it in any way they liked with Spis ornaments. Each T-shirt also had letters whose sense was revealed when they were hung on one string. We were able to read the name Spis written in four languages: Polish, Slovak, German and Hungarian. The atmosphere during both the Spis Puzzle workshop and the T-shirt Factory was fantastic, and we were again amazed at the involvement and laboriousness of the participants. We hope our work together will make the children look at their region from a different perspective, and that they will become more open-minded and willing to meet people from other cultures and traditions.