Back to Polish School in Chicago. Our reader’s letter

It’s back to school season in Chicago. But it’s not just American school starting. Many of us are returning to Polish school. I’ve always seen a huge difference between Polish and American school, and I think many of you can relate. I think both are very important for Polish speaking students living in America. American school, of course, gives us all the basic knowledge we need for success in our futures.

Polish school offers us many opportunities that can help us in the future as well, but it is also a very important and positive experience we need to learn to appreciate. I know many of you, especially younger students may see Polish school as unnecessary and a burden, and I understand that. When I was younger I rarely looked forward to Polish school because I just saw it as a waste of a Saturday morning. But as time went on, I changed my perspective. When high school came around my parents let me choose whether or not I go to Polish school, I decided not to go. But after a year, I decided to come back. I realized that I met many of my good friends through Polish school so it gave me an opportunity to see them more often.

Personally, my American school does not have many students of Polish descent. Polish school allows me to spend time with other kids of the same culture. I have always found it easier to connect with Polish kids because the moment we meet, we already have something in common. I also realized Polish school is important because it enriches our knowledge of the language, traditions and history of our country. The Polish culture and language has been suppressed many times throughout history but our ancestors fought against the suppression and managed to keep the beautiful culture and language alive. We, the Polish youth in America, need to realize this and not take Polish school for granted. Our ancestors fought and died for this culture to be kept alive and the least we can do is continue to learn about it and appreciate it so we play a role in preserving the Polish culture and language as well.

We’re all also very lucky to be living in an area with such a large Polish community. Chicago has the biggest Polish population outside of Warsaw. Having such a large Polish community allows us to see the culture and hear the language all around us. We see it in the many festivals in the Chicago area (such as Taste of Polonia), the large amount of Polish schools, the May 3rd parade and the amount of white and red flags visible throughout the whole year. “I love being able to come together during the Polish parade and being able to reunite with some people I haven’t seen in a while and meet people with same or similar culture.” – Kamil W, 16. We can all see that the events, programs and camps within the Polish community have brought people together and will continue to do so as time goes on. On living in an area with a large Polish population, Julia L, 15, said: “guess it just makes me feel like I’m closer to Poland and that culture than I actually am. Especially when we went to the Polish Constitution Day Parade, seeing so many Polish people in one area made me feel like I’m a part of something bigger.

Later whenever we passed someone with a Polska shirt you’d say hi or wave because you feel like you already knew them somehow.” Having such a strong presence of the Polish culture in the city of Chicago makes it easier to feel closer to the culture while being far from the country, and in result of that, closer to each other.

Olaf Łukasiewicz


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