CIVICA Sport & Culture Festival on Zegrzynskie Lake

yacht in the port

Over a year of preparation and work of many people materialized on June 14-16 in the form of the CIVICA Sport & Culture Festival. The plans were ambitious, the expectations were high, and it was the first time such a large-scale event as part of CIVICA – The European University of Social Sciences was organized by SGH Warsaw School of Economics. 

However, it is not without reason that SGH is famous for its ability to combine the theory and practice of logistics and management. In the middle of the exam session, in the week SGH celebrated its 118. anniversary, we managed to organize an event for 250 people, combining sports and cultural activities.

CIVICA Sport & Culture Festival began on the SGH campus. The welcome pack, which included a T-shirt with the CIVICA logo, a group photo in the Main Hall, a visit to the historic building of the SGH Library, and the Rector's Gardens, were just a prelude to the upcoming attractions. 

In the late afternoon, buses transported all participants to Zegrzynskie Lake, which was to be the site of Saturday's water sports competitions. 

The number of people willing to participate in the planned activities exceeded our wildest expectations, so extra boats were ordered at night, which was quite tricky in the face of the auspicious weather. From the morning, representatives of 10 universities, both students and administrative, research and teaching staff, divided into groups, were able to take advantage of, among others, pedal boats, kayaks, beach volleyball, fast speedboat rides, or relax on the beach or the pier.

Everyone liked this idea for the festival, as evidenced by the statement of Adriana Alzamora Anticona from Hertie School (Germany):

 "I have no experience with water activities, so I am very excited about this form of meeting people from the CIVICA alliance, and I think the festival is a great idea for bonding with people."

After lunch, the SGH Song and Dance Ensemble showed off its extraordinary vocal and dance capabilities. Guests from friendly universities usually got to know our rich traditions for the first time. Moreover, workshops were organized right after the performance for those interested, where you could try your hand at this challenging dance art. 

In addition to dance workshops, photography training using mobile phones was also conducted. Their participants learned that these inconspicuous small devices hide so many possibilities that are just waiting to be used and boasted the results in social media, which is ubiquitous in today's world.

The main event, however, was the sailing race. Two races were played in the morning, and due to significant interest, an additional third race took place in the afternoon. Nia Sekania from IE University (Spain), a member of the winning crew of the first race, expressed her enthusiasm: 

"The festival allowed me to meet many people from other universities, but also my colleagues from IE from a completely different side than before. Winning the sailing race required teamwork, and in addition to having fun and satisfaction, it provided the opportunity for integration at an unprecedented level."

In the afternoon, kayak races were also held. The weather and fun were so good that we barely managed to get everyone together for dinner. And after dinner, a few more surprises were waiting for the festival participants. The first one was dancing on the pier, which not only the participants of the afternoon dance workshops could try out. Under the supervision of our incomparable SGH Song and Dance Ensemble, a polonaise, known from Polish proms, was danced, and a more lively Chapelloise was performed. A few repetitive movements performed so easily by our SGH dancers turned out to be quite a challenge for students and university employees trying their skills for the first time. However, it was great fun, and the memories will last forever. They will be reminded of them by medals prepared for all festival participants.

"CIVICA brings together the best universities in Europe, and this festival provided a unique opportunity to network and meet interesting people speaking different languages and with different points of view. It was not only sports and cultural entertainment but also intellectual", said Michel Effimbra from Sciences Po (France).

The day was busy and long, and the night was one of the shortest of the year but no less interesting. After dark, a bonfire was lit. Something evident in our Polish tradition, for foreign guests accustomed to barbecue, was an excellent opportunity for further integration, but also for transitioning from baking modern marshmallows to sausages and bread more recognized in Poland. SGH, as the organizer, has prepared many activities and surprises. The participants surprised us in the evening by organizing their own dances and songs around the bonfire, which lasted until dawn. Whether it was fatigue or regret at the end of the event, the fact remains that no one wanted to return to their alma mater. 

CIVICA Executive Director Aurélien Krejbich summed up the festival with following words: "While CIVICA is focusing primarily on education and research, holding events in an informal setting and facilitating interactions across our communities around sports and culture contribute greatly to the building of a common sense of belonging and allow new connections that ultimately lead to new projects or initiatives."

The festival's success is manifested in the enthusiastic comments from participants on social media and in the congratulations to the SGH International Centre and the Physical Education and Sports Centre, representing the whole organizing team. With great pleasure, I can announce that His Magnificence Rector Piotr Wachowiak has decided to organize the next edition of the CIVICA Sport & Culture Festival by SGH. So, let's all get ready for June next year, and on behalf of the organizers, I promise that we will try to surpass the scale of the first edition and go down in gold in the annals of CIVICA and the memory of the academic community.

More photos on Flickr part I, fot. Paweł Gołębiowski

More photos on Flickr part II, fot. Piotr Potapowicz