I came to this country as a 5-year-old little girl with just my small suitcase and my dolly. I remember my first few weeks and how different everything seemed, so big and loud. I was used to the country with wide open spaces to run and play, and now I only had a Chicago yard. It was stressful and scary and when I went to the park to play in the sandbox, I couldn’t understand the other kids. I felt like an outsider, but being 5, I learned to speak English quickly and wanted to assimilate as quickly as I could. As I got older, I tried to be less “different” and never really wanted to learn Poland’s history or my family’s traditions, but now that most of my family is gone, I realize that I wasn’t odd or different but I had something special. Traditions, history, and stories I want to pass on to my kids.
Taking my girls back to Poland, honestly, my heart swelled with pride to watch then experience and appreciate the beauty and history of the country their mom and grandparents came from.