About Alina Deja-Grygierczyk
Alina is a passionate Canadianist, energetic English Coach Confidence, Positivity Purveyor, and Passionate Home Cook. She has Silesian-Polish roots, fell in love with Canada, and currently, lives in Berlin with her husband where they enjoy the German cultural diversity and share Canadian values.
Her mission is to inspire and empower today’s young Europeans to leave a positive impact on our world through their involvement in leadership exchanges. She also dedicates herself to strengthening EU-Canada bilateral relations, by developing multilateral applied educational projects in areas of common interest for both Europe and Canada.
She studied English philology at the University of Silesia, Poland, and also finished there my doctorate studies in Canadian Literature and Cultures. She is the recipient of the Competitive Government of Canada Program Grant and EU-Canada Study Tour Thinking Tour. She studied the EU – Canada bilateral relations in such prominent institutions as the European Parliament, European Council, European Commission, European Court of Justice, and the Canadian Mission to the European Union, as well as many think tanks and NGOs.
In 2012 she undertook an internship at the Polish Consulate in Toronto where she was responsible for the promotion of Poland in Canada. After a few years of working as an academic teacher and English coach confidence, she decided to pursue my passion for promoting EU-Canada bilateral relations and founded the Polish Academy of Canada to create excellent international leaders.
**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.
Sam Demma (00:00):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and other special opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. You might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Alina Deja is the founder and executive director of the Polish Academy of Canada. She’s also an educator and a passionate Canadianist. If that’s even a word she fell in love with Canada when she traveled here years ago on an exchange and her passion for the opportunities that exist to here and the people she met pushed her to start the Polish Academy of Canada, where she brings students from Poland and other areas in the European union over in Europe to bring them here on exchange, to provide them with co-op and internship opportunities, or even just, you know, work opportunities or exposure and trips.
Sam Demma (01:23):
So kids have access to different experiences and options. Now she is someone who is extremely passionate. She, after a few years of working as an academic teacher in English confidence coach, she decided to pursue her passion for promoting EU Canada bilateral relations, which led to her founding the Polish academy to create this excellent international leadership opportunities. She has huge energy. She is working on so many different projects. I hope you enjoy our conversation today. I will see you on the other side, Alina, thank you so much for coming on the high performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to, to have you on the show all the way from Berlin. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about what makes you passionate about the work you do in education today?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (02:15):
Yeah. Well, that’s a great question. I have to tell you. And I love the word passion cuz I’m really passionate about all the work that I do and with the young people here and what makes me so passionate you know, it’s a very long story when it comes to me. The first thing that really I love when, when it comes to young people is just like a love giving them something, you know, to believe in. I mean like Simons, you know, the leader always said that we should always like give people, you, you know, something that they keep going in life. They, they believe in something. So I think that we as educators which we are really highly responsible for the youth right now, especially the times right now, you know, we have COVID 19 race, you know, democracy is falling and we have got, you know, technology and instead of humanology and that sometimes techn management, it comes to technology.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (03:09):
So I think that they really need our help and my experience that educators and the people that we surround ourself with most important for the youth. So we should really like try to navigate them help them to navigate their life, you know, their emotions and and just help them to be happy. So what I do with the young people I do create exchange programs between Europe, between Canada. And so I bring both, you know, like Canadians to Europe as well. Like Europeans, it’s mostly like Polish students to Canada and they just came both, both students, they just come, come back very, very happy. So the thing that also got, got me to work with the young people, it’s probably, I would say I was also very lucky. Since I remember to have a good family, he was always motivating me, my uncle through the United States.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (04:10):
He always likes, he was like charging my Barry when he was like visiting me in Europe. And as I, since I remembered, yeah, it’s funny. I know. So as I remember it, I’ve been always very ambitious. I’ve always been a dreamer, a dreamer, and I had my own visions and I always wanted to create something unique and something that’s gonna give back to the community, something that’s gonna like, you know, like make other people happy because I got a lot, I’ve been traveling around the world as I was working with you as well as Canada, when it comes to international exchanges of students, I mean also university lecture. So I’ve made a lot of contacts and as my uncle said you know, I think that it’s very important. The people that we surround ourself with. So thanks so much trouble.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (04:59):
I’ve managed to build a huge network of leaders around the world. And as I know that it’s very important. The people that we surround ourself with are very important. I just wanted to that the youth that I know they’re gonna get the same so that they’re gonna be able to navigate their lives and just be happy and to are positive emotions with others. So what is more those travels and those positive experience that I got both in Canada and somewhere else. They brought me also to the idea of Canada study tours. So we bring young people from Europe to Canada and we do a tour so that there’s universities, high schools, they go to institutions governmental institutions. So we try to get them familiar with Canada as you know, like most Europeans, I don’t know if that, if you’re aware of that, but probably maybe yes. They just think that Canada is like Netflix.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (06:04):
So it’s like, so they always have the feeling that whatever, wherever they are in Canada, join us in the Netflix. So we are trying to help them to follow their dreams. And just to help them also, you know, to, to make their careers, to set up their lives in Canada a little bit. Of course we work with them when it comes to work and and balance because, you know, they, sometimes they dream about, and they let’s say they imagine Canada or north America in a different mind that it really is right. So we try to help them to follow their dreams, but also in a reasonable way, I guess. So, so just to sum up I think that I’ve become very, very passionate about working with the youth. So all the positive emotion that I got from the people like who were showing me the way, and there should be. So, you know, and so energetic, I just wanna like give back on how to tell you just to make them happy, make all the possible for them. I couldn’t live in Canada. I was living in Canada for a while, but right now I live in Berlin. So I just want them to be happy, let’s say. Hmm,
Sam Demma (07:16):
No, I absolutely love that. I’m actually curious to know more about your uncle, who you mentioned. Did he play a huge role in inspiring you to start this work? Like where I understand what makes you passionate about it today, but what drove you to start your own organization and to start doing these tours with European students and to give them the opportunities they might not have elsewhere?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (07:37):
Yeah. Well, I it’s always been my dream. I mean, like, it’s funny when I was driving the car, I was going to a conference in Brussels. So I was driving the car between Brussels and Berlin. I’ve asked myself a question, what you really like doing. So at that time I was working with the university students, you know, so like being an academic teacher, and I just said to myself, what you like really doing? You just like flying to America. So I think that this it’s funny, but this brought me to the idea of Canada study tour and my uncle. He’s been the only my motivator. So I mean, like as, as, since I was little, I mean, doesn’t remember him coming back, you know, to Europe reading books, to me talking about like life and you know, like making choices in life.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (08:21):
So he was really like a good educator. So I was pretty lucky let’s say that he was like my innate leader, like, so and what brought me to outside of my company well, my company has been at the very beginning language school, and then I just wanna something more for the kids. So it was not only about the language, but I just wanted that they gonna start grow mentally when it comes to English, as well as to help them to change their, let’s say, fixed mindset into the growth mindset. Yes. Which is a huge work and introduce to them how they can work on themselves.
Sam Demma (09:03):
No, that’s awesome. And what led you to meeting Dave Conlan and all these amazing people that work in student leadership here in Canada? I’m curious to know.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (09:14):
Well, in 2016, I went to Canada with two girls. They were private students and I was on my own academics doing my own academic research. And those girls, they wanna study in Canada and this is so they we contacted Ian Tyson, the motivational speaker, right? So Ian Tyson, he invite me to come to, to London for the global leadership conference. First of all, I was just like, I thought, he’s crazy said, I’m not gonna be, you know, like a part of kids, you know, to Canada who are like 18, you know, and 17, you know, said like, no. And but then I started really to work on thats and the kids that I talk with them, they really wanna go. Hmm. So and that’s how it all started. So, you know, I’m a person who is very energetic and also very communicative.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (10:07):
And I’ve always had a kind of, you know, like vision. I mean, like something, you know, that you believe in, you go there, you just believe that you wanna do it sometimes are not sure about your vision yet, but when, when you meet and communicate with people and you know, your vision is just like, it’s just more clear to you. Hmm. And so Dave conman from the leadership Ken leadership association I contacted him because well, Canada study tour has become very famous here in Europe and all the schools, they were just impressed with the that the kids are so happy and they, the attitudes they changed because they contact, you know, the leaders the best. Yeah. And they speak with them. And so they just wanted that we gotta create a program which is gonna be online for the kids here so that the kids there are more kids engage into like into some positive action. So, so I just thought about that. I’ve met the treasurer of Canadian association ones. Nice. And I said like, okay, so why not contact, you know, like Dave conman, who is, let’s say hat and is kind of important when it comes to leadership in Canada and to learn more from them even from him. Yes.
Sam Demma (11:28):
Ah, that’s awesome. That’s so cool. And what is coming up soon? Things that you’re working on that you’re very excited about and that you have poured lots of your energies into?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (11:39):
So right now, well, first of all, it’s I’m kind of a positive about that. I mean, like managing that, you know, yeah. I cannot fly right now, international, like flights are very difficult to manage but I’m very positive about, you know, the new opportunities for me. So saying that, having said that so we develop right now a course for the schools. And so we just wanna, let’s say, create a movement in Europe and as well as to bring some changes when it comes to education here. Hmm. So that might be might be, let’s say both challenging for us as a very positive, I mean, like when it comes to young people so that they gonna start thinking about, you know, like, like things like like about their life in a different way. Hmm. So, I mean, like in Europe, the education is more academic, so we just focus, you know, like on studying on cramming reading like books. And so there are not many schools who offer like courses or help students to human up or to just grow mentally. Mm. So this is what we wanna change right now. So I’ve already contacted some people like from media and some journalists from some like super Hebrew educators. And then we were just planning, you know, to let’s say kind of a movement to, to bring some positive changes right now.
Sam Demma (13:12):
Hmm. Oh, that’s awesome. I absolutely love the at and when, what, what inspired you to get involved in education? So bring me all the way back to when you were a student yourself, there’s, you know, thousands of careers you can get into, you chose to get into working with young people. Why at that point in your life, when you were so young, did you decide this was the thing you wanted to do or did, did you work a different job at first and transition? Like I’m, I’m curious to know about your own path?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (13:40):
No, I mean, like never, it’s, it’s funny because since I remember I was, I, well, I think that I’m just lucky I’ve been, I was always playing you know, like the school. I mean, I was always a teacher as a kid. Yep. So I had my own like register and over was putting some marks. So my mom, she’s also a teacher. So I think that I, maybe I took after her a little bit and she she’s she’s still teaching right now. I mean, she lost her job. She doesn’t wanna give it up, although she could already get retired. And and so I think that family as I said, I mean like family that was always supporting me when it comes to education. So I can see the differences sometimes when we teach some parents, you know, there’s a lack of I don’t wanna say like, but it’s true sometimes of lack of good parenting at home, a good leadership. So I’ve been lucky to grew up in a family which gave me a lot. And my mom, she’s a teacher, my uncle, I mean, like for United States, he’s also a university teacher. So I think that I had a kind of a, let’s say have had always like, kind of a natural gift of just working with the youth.
Sam Demma (14:55):
Oh, that’s awesome. I love that. And if you could go back and speak to your younger self, when you just started working in education, what would you tell yourself? What pieces of advice, knowing what, you know now, would you impart on your younger self?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (15:10):
It’s just like, what do you mean? Like younger self? When I was like 15, I was 25 or two.
Sam Demma (15:17):
When you started working. So like the first year you started working with young people?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (15:24):
I think that, you know what it’s about the fear, I guess. So a lot of people and me too, I was always very shy. Mm. And this is the same thing happens when I come with young people to Canada or anywhere else, they’re very shy. They’re afraid to act. They’re afraid to be themselves and be authentic at that time. I would like to hear our voice, that be yourself, be authentic. You should follow your intuitions. You should follow your dreams. I mean, like you should do what you like and don’t be afraid. So, I mean, like, I’ve been always like growing up in a kind of environment that was trying you let’s say to act against me a little bit. And so I’ve, you know, I wanted to do stuff. I was always different. I was always more ambitious than the others or had just different to dreams.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (16:13):
And so there were voices who were trying to suppress me. So I think that I would just tell myself, like, keep going that way, keep being yourself, because this is important. Stop pretending a different person, because this is also, I mean, like something that I can see, but a lot of students, they pretend to be somebody else that they really are. And, and I guess this is, and what I have learned more, I guess, so like be more patient. Hmm. Oh, that’s awesome. Because I mean, like, yeah. I mean, I think that being, being patient is also very important. I mean, like a lot of kids and me too, I’ve always wanted everything very fast though. I don’t belong to the generation that, you know, like, like clicks all the time. Yeah. And but but yeah, I have it too. I mean, like sometimes, you know, you wanna get to the end of the movie very fast. Yeah. But I think that patience is is very important. So I’m like no fear, you just be authentic and don’t be scared to be yourself.
Sam Demma (17:11):
Ah, I love that. That’s awesome. And I know that you’re someone who is a lifelong learner. Can you tell me why you think that’s important and what are some of your favorite books that you have read? I know the last time I spoke to you, you showed me your wonderful bookshelf. And tell me, what do you think it means to be a lifelong learner? Why is it important and what are some of your favorite books?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (17:32):
Well it’s very important the first, like what you said it’s like, it’s very important. I mean, there is a coach in Europe who says that when you just don’t grow and you don’t learn all the time, you just go back. And this is the feeling that I sometimes also got, you know, that there was a time when I was busy without a project and I, you know, stopped like learning or reading and I really felt bad. So the more you contact people, the more you read, you just grow, you just feel more happy. You just have the feeling of being, let’s say of doing something, right? Yes. So I’m a person like that. I am, I, I’m not able to imagine myself being a vegetable. Mm. And so that’s, that’s what is important because if you just stop learning reading you know, you are just, you just gonna start, stop being, let’s say.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (18:28):
Right. Because I, I mean, like we don’t know our potential. I mean, like we can have a great potential. I mean, like, so the more we read, the more people we meet, we just grow and we can be really happy because I mean, like we never know our final destination. Right. Hmm. And my favorite book well, it’s a good question. I have to tell you that I have it even like here on my desk, in my Canada room I got it from my husband, honestly, I’ve, I’ve read a lot of books, like canal, literature, I mean, European literatures, et cetera. But the thing that right now, I have a new, like new new poet. I really like though, I’m not like into poetry so much. Her name is, I mean, like homebody she’s right now a Canadian poet, she’s Indian. And she’s writing for women about buddy about leadership, about heart and about rest and away. So I think that my that’s my favorite book right now. Oh, that’s awesome. So she’s, she’s she’s really, I mean, like her poetry is very simple and it just picks your mind and it’s about, you know, all the problems that sometimes, you know, like we as human, we we, well we go through.
Sam Demma (19:45):
Love that in a very simple way. Yeah. That’s, that’s amazing. And the next time you come to, can you better let me know. Definitely. Yeah. So we can do some stuff together.
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (19:56):
It’s gonna be 2022.
Sam Demma (19:58):
Well, hopefully it comes, comes, comes here sooner. But in the meantime, if someone is inspired by anything you’ve shared today on this interview whether it’s a little bit about your personal story or they love the work you’re doing, what would be the best way another educator or somebody listening to reach out to you and have a conversation?
Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (20:16):
Definitely, I mean, like I check emails all day. So it’s email@example.com. I’m on Facebook and Instagram too.
Sam Demma (20:33):
Yeah. Perfect. No, that sounds, that sounds great. Alena, thank you so much for taking the time to chat. I, I really appreciate it and keep up the awesome work. I hope to work with you in the future and keep doing great things. I’ll stay in touch. Thank you. And I’ll talk to you soon. And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review. So other educators like your, of find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 21 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.
Join the Educator Network & Connect with Alina Deja-Grygierczyk
The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education. By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators. You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.