Alone Together Again Symposium
17-18 September 2020
Under auspices of the Rector of the University of Szczecin and the Mayor of Szczecin, via the MS Teams platform, an exceptional scientific event took place: Alone Together Again (ATA): A Second International Pandisciplinary Symposium on Solitude in Community. That was the second edition of seminars initiated last year in York, UK, resulting from the collaboration of two loneliness researchers: Prof Julian Stern (Bishop Grosseteste University) and Dr Małgorzata Wałejko (University of Szczecin).
The conference was attended by almost 70 speakers from 17 countries and five continents, representing various scientific disciplines. During two days, three plenary lectures and 12 sessions in groups (50 presentations) and one poster session have taken place.
You can find all the plenary presentations on a public YouTube channel:
How symbolic the title – Alone Together Again – turned out to be, when we saw on one screen friends from all over the world, though alone, still together. During the opening (at Polish 9:00 am) we could meet researchers from the UK (their 8:00 am), Australia (5:00 pm), the US (3:00 am) or Hong Kong (3:00 pm) and many other countries. We are very grateful for all the talks presented, for undertaking the theme of solitude with such care and curiosity. The words spoken there and the sight of your faces are still in our ears and eyes. We do hope to meet again at the Alone Together 3 (AT3) Symposium, and we will surely let you know the details of that event.
It’s worth mentioning that during the ATA conference, the inauguration of the International Society for Research on Solitude, ISRS ( http://isrs.usz.edu.pl ) took place. The association, created by scientists from the University of Szczecin and Bishop Grosseteste University, will organize further conferences and publish research devoted to various perspectives on the problem of loneliness and the value of solitude, but above all it will bring together researchers on solitude from all over the globe – so far dispersed all over the world – according to the idea of „Alone Together”. If you would like to join us in that organisation, please do. You will be very welcome!
At the end of the symposium we were honored to present the beautiful poem written especially for the ATA symposium by our great friend, Professor David Weir from York St John University. With its words we, as organizers, express our gratitude and hope for other exquisite meetings.
Returning Together, Alone, to Szczecin
A figure stands on a Baltic shore
Staring alone at an endless sea
I don’t know him: I was never there
But I need to know him for he is me.
I have done my research on the city where
Stands an inland port on a river’s plain
But its new to me, I was never there
I was born the year that war started again.
My father enlisted, came home from abroad
Signed up to fight with the RAF
You stand by your friends; you share their load,
When they stand alone by a Northern sea.
My mother died at the end of the war
In my first year at college, my father died.
I had a son that he never saw
They share a name and a father’s pride.
He had Polish friends in the RAF
Taught Polish pilots to navigate
Some came to our house and smoked and laughed
Then left for the flak and a likely fate.
Fate found him later in a Baltic town
Attached to the army at the port of Kiel.
If he came to Stettin, I never found
His service record did not reveal.
But I had a reason to want to return
To stand alone by the Northern sea
I would bring my father to greet you all
Folks say there’s a lot of him in me.
Our family history is there inside
It makes one what you want to be
It contains our fears, but also our pride
Together, alone on an endless sea.
David Weir, September 16th 2020
/Reported by: Julian Stern, Gosia Wałejko and Basia Chojnacka/