Where are you from?
I’m from Łańcut, Poland.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was peaceful and fun. It was filled with big and small joys and lots and lots of laughter. I had everything a child could wish for. Every summer, we would go to Croatia with my parents and two older brothers. Not all my friends had all that, so I’m really grateful for what my parents had provided me with.
What brought you to Cleveland?
I fell in love with a Clevelander. We’ve been married for almost four years now.
What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?
I was surprised how poor certain areas of Cleveland were. I’m still amazed at how segregated this city is…
What challenges did you face transitioning here?
I didn’t really face any challenges coming here. I came here on a tourist visa and we got married. The interview at the Immigration office was a bit stressful, but I think it’s because of all the stories I’d heard about it. The biggest issue I still struggle with is homesickness. I really miss my family and friends…
What is your occupation? Are you a member of a sorority, fraternity, or any other civic or social organization?
I’m an ESL teacher at a language school at CWRU campus. I also teach Polish at a Saturday Polish school. I teach adult students because I’m not particularly good with children… I write and translate articles for a Polish magazine, ‘Forum’. I also actively participate in the activities of the Polish-American Culture Center.
How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcome?
Clevelanders are very warm and welcoming. I think this is why I’ve gotten used to living here pretty quickly. They have accepted and embraced all my quirks, and, in return, have embraced their “Clevelandiness”. I have more friends among young Polish Americans here, but I love going out with my non-Polish friends, too.
What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?
I’m not religious, but I celebrate Christmas and Easter. I celebrate Polish Independence and Constitution Days. I’ve gotten to like Thanksgiving – I’ll do everything for some good Brussel sprouts with bacon…
What do you love about Cleveland?
I really like Tremont and Ohio City (although W25th has gotten to crowded for me). I love how much potential Cleveland has. It’s quite impressive how this city has survived the biggest crisis and is slowly becoming an attractive place for big and small businesses.
Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?
Every person living in this country (with the exception of the Native Americans) has either come to the US from abroad, or has ancestors who migrated here some time ago. It’s the creative potential of all of us that has made Apple, Chobani, or even the Cleveland Orchestra possible.
Why is it important to travel abroad?
Traveling is fun! Eating crazy local foods and talking to people can bring you so much joy and can broaden your horizons. Even getting lost can turn into an incredible adventure.