Belfast 'home' for Polish man

Published Thursday, 12 June 2014
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A Polish man who has lived and worked in Belfast for the past 10 years says the city is growing and developing on its multicultural roots so much so that he now calls it "home".

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Community worker Conrad Pawlaszek brings people from different backgrounds together to give them a sample of traditional Polish life.

The 35-year-old came to Northern Ireland by chance over a decade ago but now he feels more at home in Belfast than his native Poland.

He said: "I am happy here, it is my home. I think of Belfast nine years ago and it has changed so much.

"It has become a better place to live and there are so many more people of different nationalities coming here.

"When I go back to Poland I feel like a tourist, I use English as my first language and most of my friends are from Belfast now.

"The city, it is beautiful and a great place to live, apart from the attacks."

Racism attacks have been on the increase over the past year.

In the past two weeks numerous people have been attacked because of their ethnic background.

Police say racially motivated attacks have increased by over 30% with the majority taking place in Belfast.

We don't even have to like each other, it's not like a happy, clappy world but my message is that we just have to respect each other.

Conrad Pawlaszek

Conrad continued: "On the news about Belfast, it's about the riots or racism attacks.

"My mum, when she visited recently, said she was very scared for me and asked lots of questions about the attacks.

"But I showed her how lovely a place it is to live, it's a beautiful city."

Conrad runs a series of classes on Polish tradition and art workshops which include children from various backgrounds.

He added: "I try to show people different perspectives and a different perception of me as a Polish person.

"I get to know the people taking part very well and for me that is a big success.

"I talk to them and I challenge the situation. I want to educate them to show them we are not that different, that we are all just human beings that have the same needs and just want to be happy.

"For me that is the best way to bring people and cultures together."

© UTV News
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