Where are you from?

I was born in Warsaw, Poland and came to the USA when I was 14

What was your childhood like?

Polish customs of raising children were very different of the ones observed in the USA. Kids are much more independent and given the freedom to explore the world. I was able to run around the street of Warsaw without supervision when I was 6/7 years old.

What brought you to Cleveland?

My childhood dream was to go to Harvard and it was much easier to get to coming from an American high school (did not actually end up going there). My mother’s friend married a guy who lived in Middleburg Heights and having a friend in a new country was definitely a plus

What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?

The suburbs of Cleveland are much different than Warsaw; not a lot of people walk and public transport is used primarily by the less fortunate ones. Coming from a bustling city I was used to people sitting outside in the café, or visiting parks and museums. You didn’t see that a lot when I first moved to Cleveland

What challenges did you face transitioning here?

I went to international schools in Poland so language wasn’t an issue, however I realized that the USA isn’t always is it is portrayed in the movies and there are many more nuances to the traditions and holidays that are observed in real life.

What is your occupation? Are you a member of a sorority, fraternity, or any other civic or social organization?

I am a relationship manager at ECDI, a non-for-profit micro-lender that helps entrepreneurs access capital to start or grow their business as well as education needed to ensure their success

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Everybody is excited to learn a new culture, especially when some of them already know of few polish traditions (Dyngus day)

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Not many; occasionally make a polish dish

What do you love about Cleveland?

Cleveland has changed a lot since when I first moved here. It has become a much more cultured city with a lot of festivals, art galleries, and vibrant districts. Downtown has become a destination and is bringing many younger people who see Cleveland for all the opportunities it provides.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem is also growing, and there are many dedicated individuals who want to see the city succeed and are pledging their resources to make it happen.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Cultural diversity makes for a stronger community. Being able to welcome people from different walks of life with different customs and traditions helps people broaden their horizons and step out of their comfort zone. I have lived in New York City for many years and being able to discuss issues with individuals of so many backgrounds allowed be to look at issues from perspectives I would never consider. I think it really is the best way to solve conflicts, knowing what the other side might be thinking/ have gone through

Why is it important to travel abroad?

Culture, architecture, people! Seeing foreign cultures first-hand barely compares to what is portrayed on TV. There is so much to be learned from others, that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to what we already know.