Welcome to Opole… Sorry, we don’t speak English here

Niezależna Gazeta Obywatelska2

Radny Marek Kawa jak powiedział, tak zrobił. Niedawno zaproponował władzom miasta, że przetłumaczy na język angielski artykuły, które są umieszczone na stronie www.opole.pl. Strona internetowa Opola w obcym języku praktycznie nie istnieje. Ratusz propozycję odrzucił. Jednak dr Marek Kawa i tak podjął się tłumaczenia opolskiej witryny wraz z komentarzem dlaczego to uczynił. Przetłumaczył też biogram Prezydenta Ryszarda Zembaczyńskiego i przesłał mu go. Miłej lektury./TK/

Welcome to Opole… Sorry, we don’t speak English here

I could hardly believe when a few days ago I checked my city authorities website in its English version and I didn’t find any useful or helpful information in English needed for foreign tourists who wish to get some relevant information on the city of Opole, offices, or even business stuff here. In these days it is obvious that the English language replaced the importance of communication role of the Latin language as it was in the medieval centuries and later. English became temporary Latin, so if you do not know at least basic English you are like a deaf and dumb in this world.

The host of the website is the City Hall of Opole, so this is a big institution where work at least a few hundreds of employees who have gone through two years English learning course or few of them graduated in the English philology I guess. Moreover in the structure of the City Hall office there are many auxiliary units and the organizational entities like a special department which is responsible for international cooperation and promotion of Opole. So they have to use and master sooner or later English anyway. By the way almost every person who applies for job in the city offices is required to speak and write in English. So I still can’t find any excuse for poor quality of English version of city website. Maybe after Opole media announcements like Polish Daily News “Gazeta w Opolu”, last time called to the head of staff in the city for doing some updates on the web, they will move forward. But so far I haven’t seen any specific changes on it because most of articles in English on the city issues come from 2010. After my public proposition of help in doing some English updates they put only two or three articles and they simply copied and inserted for example an introduction from the economical report for the city of Opole called “Analysis of attractiveness of the city Opole as a location for SSC/PBO. Opole invest without limits” made by KPMG Advisory Spółka z o.o.” or description of the 6th Outsourcing Forum in which  participated the vice mayor of Opole, but there is no word referring to benefits of this event for Opole. The third “new” article is on “the Programme to support investments of high importance to the Polish economy for 2011-2020″ prepared by the Ministry of Economy and adopted on July 5th, 2011 by the Council of Ministers but there is no clear link to Opole as a city or Opolskie Province. So a reader doesn’t know after reading this article how and when the mentioned project can affect our city and what Opole has to do with it.

This lack of using English of Opole clerks in promotion area reflects also significant case of young English student who was invited by Polish Daily News “Gazeta Wyborcza” to check “on live” how main Polish cities are ready to welcome foreign tourist who will come for Euro 2012 soccer tournament which is taking place in Poland and Ukraine next year.

Although this nice 21 years old student of  journalism at City University London very liked our city and was having good time during her stay in Opole it was shame to read in her daily blog about troubles to get the simplest information in English within city institutions. First, she couldn’t get any information or tips in English in such important spots for tourists like city bus stops, museums, swimming pool, offices, or even simple directions. Almost nowhere in Opole were information in double Polish-
English form. Second, I doubt if city clerks or even their supervisors of those city units were able in plain English explain something and help her. It is not encouraging strangers to come into our city. Thanks to God we are lucky to have still some young people living in Opole, mostly students who came to Opole for studying, and they saved the good name of Opole by speaking freely with her and partying. It also shows still a huge generation gap and weak potential of city clerks who seem to be employed not by means of their skills but in many cases because of family connections and support. Probably those the smartest  quitted to West to find some better opportunities.

As a deputy of city council I couldn’t watch this wasting time and public funds spent on useless city clerks and proposed to improve city website in English just for free to show simply grass rooted initiative.  So I started from translating brief note on Mayor of Opole Mr. Ryszard Zembaczynski. Included below.


The Mayor of the City of Opole. He was born on 28th June 1948 in Cieplice Slaskie-Zdroj (south western Poland, former Jeleniogorskie Province). He is married and has two adult children. He has been a member and activist of the Civic Platform (PO) since 2001 r. and was plenipotentiary representative of the party in Opole election district.

In years 1998-2000 he was a member of the Social Movement for Solidarity Electoral Action (RS AWS), in years 1970-1990 he was a member of the Democratic Party (SD).

In 1973 he graduated in the engineering of sanitary from the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice. During his study he was a member of the Polish Students’ Association where he held the post of chairman of the Department Council and the vice chairman of University Council of the Polish Students’ Association.

Since 1974 has been associated with Opole, where he started to work i.e. at the Provincial Office of City Arichitectural Projects. In 1981 he became the supervisor of the Voivod Department of Environment Protection and Area Management for Opolskie Province and in 1982-1985 he also was supervising the Voivod Department of Public Utilities and Housing.

In 1985 he became Opolskie Province Vice Governor and he was supervising the affairs dealing with housing, utilities, investing and others in the office. He was holding the post of vice governor until 1990 when he was appointed as Opolskie Province Governor. Since then he was acting until 1998 (he became the longest Province Governor holding the post in first decade after transformation from communism to democratic state in Poland).

In years 1998-2002 he was a deputy to the Assembly of Opolskie Province where he was the chairman of the Regional Policy and International Cooperation Committee.

He has been an author of many articles and analysis. He was taking part in some trainings in the United States and France as well. Since 1994 he has been a member of the Chapter of Skills and Competence’ Laurel by the Regional Chamber of Commerce in Katowice (he was awarded with “Platinum Skills and Competence’ Laurel” in 1992). He became involved in many economical and environment friendly initiatives. He took part in preparing a development strategy of Opolskie Province.

He belongs to founders of Opole Agency of Respecting Energy. He is the author of three patents in environment protection and he proposed the idea of making the list of thirty „the most toxic industry plants” in the area of Opolskie Province in 1988. It mobilized those plants to reduction of negative effecting environment. He created several research works and even more technical projects referring directly to environment protection. He owns the licenses which allow to act independently in construction works.

In 1999 he became the manager of local branch of the Bank of Environment Protection in Opole and he was managing the bank until 2001. Before Opole City Mayoral Elections (when he was elected already in first round capturing 66% of the vote) he was running his own business dealing with advising on investments.

His work started in 2002 for the cause of development of Opole has been taken place until these days. In 2006 he was elected Mayor of Opole for the second time.

In March of 2009 he received the “Philanthropist of Year” award granted by local authorities of partner city of Ivano-Frankivsk for his involvement in fixing negative effects of the flood which took place in Ukraine. In August 2009 he received the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Grasse and in October he was honored for his “effective using European Union funds and acting in the field of development of city” by one of the Grzegorz Palka Awards called in less formal way as “Local-Self Governing Oscar Awards”. In June of 2010 he was honored with the title of “Creator of Changes and Progress” in appreciation of spreading and promoting democratic, free market values, innovative solutions and propagating concepts of democratic and grass rooted society in 1990-2010. The title was granted by the Presidium of the Regional Chamber of Commerce in Katowice.

In 2010 he was re-elected to his 3rd term as Mayor of Opole.

The Mayor of the City of Opole holds the executive power. He manages the Opole City Hall, executes the budget, manages the property of the City, represents the City outside, and manages the City’s current affairs. He also executes tasks assigned by the Opole City Council, which is legislative branch of power.

Autor: dr Marek Kawa

  1. frustratopolan
    | ID: fdd27e18 | #1

    Ja proponuję jeszcze w języku Chińskim. W końcu mamy ośrodek Konfucjusza przy politechnice i Chiny są „nowym tygrysem światowej gospodarki”

  2. Łopolanin
    | ID: 6510c7aa | #2

    We`re living in XXIst century, and we`re part of European Union… Civil servants, policeman, guides, even shop clerks – they all should speak english fluently… The same thing applies to official web sites of cities, tourist sites, restaurants, hotels – there should exist good english version of them… If we want to attract foreign tourists and investors, we have to be able to communicate in that language! I hope that mr. Kawa will succeed, and Opole will be more „foreign-friendly”. Our city and region can be very attractive to foreigners, if there will be no stupid language barriers…

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