Kutno the center of a new Europe

It is a thrill for me to be involved in this project. As a Peace Corps Business Volunteer assigned to Kutno it is my job to help both the city and Little League to reach their objectives. Considering that what one side says and the other side hears may be completely different, I try to stress the importance of good communication to my Polish counterparts and share with them the American viewpoint.

Volunteerism is still a new concept in Poland. For the city of Kutno, the building of the center is a business and a humanitarian effort to assist our children to do and learn new things so that they may more readily adapt to this new and ever-changing world. We must constantly stress this difference to the adults so that the children will have a chance for a better future than their parents. It's a difficult job.

The way business is done here is completely different than the way we do things in the States. With the importance of the building of the center and the unfamiliarity of this type of project to the Polish participants, I try to assist in the communication between Kutno and Little League in any way I can. Sometimes it's as simple as organizing meetings with visitors but often I'm helping them to prioritize their goals and set workable objectives. Often I'm just explaining how things are done in the States and what the Americans really need. This project can only be successful if both sides understand each other. That's why I'm here - to help clear up any misunderstandings before they become unworkable problems.

"I would like to express my joy about locating the European Center for Little League Baseball in Kutno. For a small town like Kutno the center is an historic event, the significance of which is difficult to evaluate. I feel that we are experiencing something great...the future of Kutno as the most important youth baseball center in Europe. Our intention is that all over the world Kutno will be synonymous with baseball."
- Krzysztof Debich, Mayor of Kutno

One day last summer an agreement was signed between the city of Kutno and Little League Baseball, Inc. It was a milestone for both parties. For Little League Baseball, based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, it is the first venture into building a complex outside the continental United States. For Kutno, it is a step into the international world usually reserved for larger cites such as Warsaw, Poznan or Cracow. This agreement proved to be beneiicial to both parties and work began almost immediately. The staff in Williamsport worked night and day hiring the architects and engineers to prepare the drawings and cost estimates. A fund raising campaign had to be planned. At an estimated cost of over 6 million dollars to build the Center, many individuals had to be recruited to help raise the money.

In the United States, the fund raising will officially "kick-off' with a dinner on the 10th of April in St. Louis. This event will lead the way for many other fund raising events. Poland is expected to follow up with fund raising events of its own.

What does the building of the center mean for the town of Kutno? It means growth, prosperity, jobs and a future with unknown possibilities.

The Center will be a valuable addition to the city's promotion campaign. Presently, Kutno promotes itself with two slogans. One is "Kutno...on the road to success"; the second is "Kutno...the center of a New Europe". Kutno is a small though progressive city, and is situated just 5 km from the geographic center of Poland. Kutno has an ideal climate for foreign and domestic investors, with Little League leading the way to extensive economic growth.

It is expected that the building of the Center and its work will be frequently commented on in the mass media both in Poland and abroad, putting Kutno on the international map of key cities in Poland. Kutno will host many international visitors. Their exchange of experiences with the people of the city will broaden their horizons while creating opportunities for our children. The residents of Kutno now have the motivation and opportunity to learn and use the international language of English.

Recognizing the great importance Little League has for the children of Poland, Kutno is anxious to have its own children play baseball. Participation in the program teaches teamwork, responsibility, respect for authority, how to win and lose with dignity, and a desire to excel. The children will leam and develop leadership skills - assets which will serve them throughout their lives.

All these advantages related to Kutno will spread in some degree to the region and to all of Poland. Little League Baseball's European Leadership Training Center will have a profound influence on the popularity of baseball in Poland, while creating friendships and relationships between people from all countries.

Barbara Prag