Going Global: Poland

Going Global: Poland

| By: Britten, Casey

Want to learn Polish? Check out our class information and schedule at: www.fvtc.edu/global

Geographic Location: Central Europe, east of Germany. Bordered by the Baltic Sea to the North, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine to the West and Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the South.

Climate & Terrain: Temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers.

Population: 38,383,809 (July 2013 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 89.8% [about 75% practicing], Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002)

Ethnic Groups: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7% (2002 census)

Government System: Republic

Languages: Polish (official) 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2% (2002 census)

Little-Known Facts:

  • Poland is the 6th most populous and the 6th largest of the European Union's 27 member states.
  • To date, the most "World's Strongest Man" winners are from Poland.
  • Geographically, Poland is not actually in Eastern Europe; it is in fact in the very center of Europe.
  • One third of Poland is covered with forest, 50% of the land is dedicated to farming, and there are a total of 9,300 lakes, 23 National Parks and only one desert.
  • Next to England, Poland has been one of the United States' staunchest allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • In addition to close historical and cultural ties, Poland is one of the most consistently pro-American nations in Europe and the world, with 79% of Poles viewing the U.S. favorably in 2002 and 69% in 2012.
  • Roman Catholicism is so popular that Poland actually has a TV channel dedicated to the Pope.
  • Polish people marry the youngest within the European Union (24 years old for women and 26.5 years old for men on the average).
  • Bigos is probably the most popular traditional dish and is essentially a stew made from Polish sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, different types of meat, sausage, prunes, dried mushrooms, onions and spices. The stew is cooked for a few days and served with potatoes and bread.
  • Despite that their names sound anything but Polish, Madame Curie, Frederick Chopin, Nicolaus Copernicus, and John Paul II are often considered the most famous Poles.
  • The highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, was named after General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), who fought against the Russian Empire, as well as in the American Revolutionary War.

Mini-Language Lesson

Commonly used words:

 Tak - yes (t-ah-k)
 Nie - no / not (nee-eh)
 No - yeah (n-oh softer o)
 Dzien dobry - good morning (jean dough-bree)
 Dobry wieczór - good evening (doh-brih vee-etch-oo-r)
 Dobranoc - good night (doh-bra-nots)
 Czesc - hi (cheshch)
 Do widzenia - good bye (d-oh veedzenia)
 Prosze - please / here you are (prosh-eh)
 Dziekuje - thank you (jen koo yeh)
 Jak sie masz? - How are you? (yah-k sheh mahsh)
 Jak leci? - What’s up? (yah-k l-eh-chee) 


Student Highlights

Barbara Jean Flanagan, FVTC student enrolled in Polish

Why did you choose to study Polish? This is my second semester of Polish at FVTC, and I intend to continue next semester also. My mother, Jane Majewski, came from western Poland to the USA in 1925 at the age of 14. She never saw her brother and 3 sisters until 1988. The Russians still occupied Poland, and the Berlin Wall was still standing. My 17 yr. old son and I returned with Mama to see all her siblings and the western part of Poland (upper Silesia). They live along the River Oder, a natural border from the Baltic Sea to the mountains, from Szczecin to Wroclaw. Because I was born in 1939, WWII affected foreign languages and I did not learn Polish, or Norwegian from my father’s side. Now I have dear family in Poland, and at 75 I am going to visit the family with my 2 grown sons and 2 grandsons in June, 2014.

What is your favorite Polish word/phrase? Thank you- Dziekuje! Or, thank you very much- Dziekuje bardzo!

What is an aspect of the Polish culture that especially resonates with you? Family life and love, sharing all even if there is little.

What impresses you about Polish culture or history? Their history of remaining true and proud of their heritage. I am so proud to be Polish! What they have given to the world in science, education, art, music, would make any one proud! Even when they were used a Europe’s door mat over the centuries, they remained true to their Polish hearts.

Lindsey Glowacki, FVTC student currently enrolled in Polish 1 

Though not Polish herself, after marrying her husband who was born and raised in Poland, she wanted to learn a bit of the language herself. After years of searching for a Polish language course she was able to find one at Fox Valley Technical College. After many self-directed learning attempts, since starting the Polish 1 course at FVTC she has been able to learn not only from a textbook but also from the instructor, who happens to be Polish, as well as her fellow classmates.

Lindsey says, "The stories, culture, experiences, and the variety of ages in our class make this class a rich and well-rounded education. We are not just learning vocabulary from a book by rote, or memorizing phrases. We are engulfing ourselves in the experiences that we have encountered individually and coupling them with our new education. This collaboration of education and life experiences make this class like no other."

"My favorite phrase is czerwony samochod, which means red car. It was a very hard phrase for me at first, and when Rosetta Stone was having me pronounce this, I cried a few times trying to do this because I just couldn't pronounce the letter sounds." Lindsey continues and states, “One of the greatest things I love about the Polish culture is their celebration of religion and holidays. They generally avoid the commercialization of holidays and concentrate, rather, on religious aspects, so the focus is on what is really important. This is something I wish Americans could get back to. There are so many differences and to experience a culture clash between Poland and America is overwhelming. It's very tough being part of a great superpower and then coming to Poland thinking you are so grand, only to feel that we, as Americans, are sheltered from so much by the media and our government.”

Want to learn Polish? Check out our class information and schedule at: www.fvtc.edu/global