First Person: A girl with a lightsaber

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BY EWKA WOLONKIEWICZ

It is early September’s evening: stars are high in the dark night sky, I can feel a gentle breeze and it is getting cooler. In the background I can hear faint noise of a big city, but the main sound that comes to my ears is “Duel of the Fates” by John Williams. I see a big group of people in Jedi or Sith robes, fighting with colorful lightsabers. The audience is watching the show admiringly, standing around the arena.

“Wow, those are all my friends. And one day… I will be like them,” I thought, following the rapid moves of light blue blade. So I am. This is me – Ewka Vhipir Wolonkiewicz, member of Polish Mandalorian Community Manda`yaim: Mando’ad and Commander of Warrior Corps, former vice president of Bydgoszcz’s Star Wars Fan Club, member of Torun’s Star Wars Empire and co-organizer of StarForce – Polish Meeting of Star Wars fans.

Ewa Wolonkiewicz poses with other members of the fan club. PHOTO COURTESY OF EWA WOLONKIEWICZ
Ewa Wolonkiewicz poses with other members of the fan club. PHOTO COURTESY OF EWA WOLONKIEWICZ

I joined the Star Wars fan club in my home city, Bydgoszcz, in March 2012. After half a year I co-organized StarForce as a member of that fan club and Manda`yaim. That meeting is the most important (and nowadays the only) annual event connected with Star Wars in Poland. It was a great pleasure to be a part of it in 2012, 2013 and 2014. I had a lot of various tasks like copywriting, carrying tables used for exhibition, cosplaying during parade, taking part in lightsaber duels. Nevertheless, the most important and the hardest for me was the fact that I had to interact with people. I had a big problem dealing with social anxiety in a past few years, and I got over it. Of course, with a little help from my Star Wars friends.

This job (and all of the others in Polish fandom) taught me responsibility for my actions and choices. As a vice president of fanclub, I had to make a lot of important decisions, I had to talk with lots of people who wanted to work with our group, and I had to make right deals. That taught me about economy, psychology and social interactions more than my school’s lessons.

There are also other benefits of being a part of that community. I met a lot of fantastic people that I can always count on, I discovered a great way of spending Saturday afternoons and I found my hobby – cosplaying and costume-making. That led me to meet even more people, learn about lots of movies, comic books, games, and find a goal for at least next 10 years of my life. My dream is to become a professional costume designer and cosplayer even if I do not see it as my future full-time job.

My life has totally changed since I became a member of Bydgoszcz’s Star Wars Fanclub and then other groups. I cannot imagine myself without all that experience. I think that I would not be here now, few thousands kilometers from home, if I did not travel alone to festivals and conventions all around Poland to meet new people with hobby similar to mine. I would not be ready for this. But I am!

Ewka Wlonkiewicz is an exchange student from Poland. BluePrints welcomes “First Person” submissions and other reader essays. Send your writings to [email protected]