Coming Together 2019: Looking Forward


Wyatt Zwik

Mayors of district villages and event organizers pose for a photo after the press conference.

By Pavle Vuksanovic and Wyatt Zwik

On Thursday, Jan., 10, Coming Together held its annual press conference at the Niles-Maine Public Library. Each year, the organizations focus on celebrating a different culture. In 2019, the focus of the program is on celebrating Polish culture. At the press conference, local government such as local mayors and D219 school representatives were present, supporting and helping to organize this annual festival.

“Why the polish community? Well the polish people have been here since the early 1800s, and they have worked very hard and they came here up until World War 2 to make a better life for themselves. And then, in the 70s they came as refugees, and Illinois is the second largest population of polish people other than New York. A tremendous amount of them went to the Chicago metropolitan area,” organizer Susan Van Dusen said. “Going along with 30 years since the collapse of Communism in Poland and the centennial of their independence, we decided it would be a really good year to celebrate the Polish Community.”

The program, currently in its tenth year, celebrates different cultures each year by involving the community in traditional events. Starting with an opening ceremony on Sunday, Jan., 27 at the Niles West Auditorium with traditional Polish food made by the Niles West culinary students, ranging through about 60 activities open to the community at public facilities, Coming Together aims to increase tolerance and knowledge about different cultures through our Niles Township community.

“More than 60 activities, 98% of which are free, all over Niles Township,” Van Dusen said. “It is this way that we want people to come and enjoy themselves and have serious experiences when we have panel discussions and learn how to make toys and other artistic things.”

Bernadeta Koryciarz, a member of the Polish Community, has helped put together this year’s program along with the help of Agnieszka Sarrafian. Being a regular attendee of previous Coming Together programs, she is excited about this year’s experience.

“Attending different Coming Together programs, I always felt welcome, wanted, valued, and engaged. And feeling this way, Agnieszka and I wanted to invite presenters and performers who continue to demonstrate this demeanor,” Koryciarz said. “So, with this in mind, we have made a very attractive and very engaging program for this year for coming together. We invite every one of you to be a part of this and we want you to feel like a part of the Polish family.”

Lincolnwood mayor Barry Bass believes the event is a great way to promote different cultures in the district’s villages, while also getting people active in the community.

“I think events like this are embraced. Once you start getting the word out there, people enjoy learning about others peoples or cultures or countries, and they come out. We’ve got a great library and community center, and wherever the events take place, the people enjoy it. It’s a wonderful thing, it’s educational, and I think people love it.”

The opening ceremony will take place at the Niles West Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 1:00 P.M. and will be emceed by ABC 7’s Alan Krashesky.