Only few days ago we finished our Liberty Camps in Poland and we are really happy about the results. Here is our report from the first Camp in Pokrzywna.
Our first camp was organized by the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of a Polish business conglomerate, TDJ Foundation, with the aim of introducing the children of the company’s employees to the idea of Free Market Economics, Entrepreneurship, the principles of classical Liberalism, and giving them opportunity to practice and improve their English language skills. Exactly 40 students participated in this “English Camp” over an 8-day period, climaxing in a final presentation by the students to the CEOs of both the TDJ conglomerate as well as the TDJ Foundation.
As the ideas of classical Liberalism were new to almost all the participants and as their level of English proficiency was still basic, we presented the topics in the form of introductory lectures, small discussion groups, videos, and movies (such as Call of the Entrepreneur). Two representatives of the Acton Institute came from Rome to present and discuss the “Poverty Cure” videos, and Marina Brierely from England presented on private education to children in poor countries, based on the life and book of James Tooley “A Beautiful Tree”. She also told the story of her own family, escaping Communist Russia during Stalin’s time to China, only to be confronted by Mao’s Communist China a few years later and having to emigrate eventually to Australia. Only the entrepreneurial skills and attitudes of her ancestors ensured that they survived these very difficult times in both Russia and China and enabled Marina to tell their story, which is also documented in a book she wrote to commemorate her family’s history.
Unsurprisingly, exposure to these new topics generated lots of discussion and interest among these young people, something very different from what they hear at their various schools and universities. We also did a presentation on the recent history of Estonia, showing the post-communist transformation of that country to a market economy, as well as a movie on the Swedish Welfare State Myth, demonstrating that the welfare in Sweden was made possible only by a previous market economy, and that redistribution depends on someone creating the “cake” first before it can be split into pieces and handed out to beneficiaries.
The students came away with the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and that genuine wealth is the result of hard work and productivity, not something that is produced by the State.
Four of the students, whose English language skills improved sufficiently during the week were happy to join us for our second Liberty Camp, which started immediately after the first one finished, in a location about an hour’s drive away, in the town of Sobotka.
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