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Grandchildren of Polish Immigrants


polam 5 | 11  
29 Jan 2009 /  #1
I am wondering how many other grandchildren of Polish immigrants share the same experience as me. My grandparents came to the U.S. sometime around 1912. I did not know my grandfather well, as he died when I was 2. I remember my grandmother better. She did not speak English very well, yet all of her 4 children had English as their first language (having gone to public school here in the U.S.). My father, and I'm sure my aunts and uncles, knew a little Polish, but not that much. It seems that they were not encouraged to learn Polish. Also, the children (my father included) did not seem to know too much about the family history and origin. And, to my astonishment, they did not seem to be that interested.

Then I come along. I am greatly interested in my Polish heritage. I have been trying to learn Polish for many years. I have read many, many Polish history books (as many as I can find in English) and books about Poland generally. I can't explain it, but I feel an attachment to all things Polish (I know the "true" Poles on this forum will probably laugh at me).

Has it been anybody else's experience that the grandchildren of immigrants are far more interested in their heritage than the children of immigrants?
McCoy 27 | 1,275  
29 Jan 2009 /  #2
I know the "true" Poles on this forum will probably laugh at me

after what you've wrote I can see that youre a true Pole (whatever it means). anyone who would laugh at you is a dumbunworthyfcuk :)
Shawn_H  
29 Jan 2009 /  #3
You may find this interesting. An American moved to Poland to get in touch with his roots.

Linky Thingy
Softsong 5 | 495  
29 Jan 2009 /  #4
Hi Polam,

I've had the same experience. Almost identical. My parents seemed to know nothing and have no curiousity. Obviously the grandparents knew, and maybe were eager to be Americans and said nothing. Maybe the parents as kids just played with other kids who also had parents with accents. The time period of which you spoke about America was just full of immigrants. My mother learned Polish though, unlike her siblings. She was attached to her grandmother who spoke to her. I learned a few things from my grandmother, too. Mostly foods. :-)

For some strange reason, as I got older I was very curious. I knew little things, but not enough. Now I have been to most of the villages of my ancestors. Quite a task as no one told me where they were from. I had to piece it all together from documents. Jumping across the "pond" was the most difficult thing for me because most documents just said they were from German Poland or Russian Poland.

Like you, my heart swells with pride and good feeling towards Poland. I bore everyone around me though as if Poland were the only place on earth. My first flight over the land and I felt I was hyperventilating with happiness.

Of course, since I am of mixed ethnic background, I have Germanic grandparents as well. However they too lived in Poland when it was multinational and so no matter what, the land feels like a home. I truly love Poland.
dkiefer 1 | 3  
29 Jan 2009 /  #5
I am a great grandchild of poles. I am also very intrested in my roots. However no in my family can even spell my grandpa's last name. So yes I know what you mean. I would love to know more about my family but it is a hard task.
noimmigration  
29 Jan 2009 /  #6
Then I come along. I am greatly interested in my Polish heritage.

Quick RUN, there is nothing more irritating than a yanky root seekers who has just discovered their "heritage".

Next they will be in polish dress dancing and eating suarkraut.

why cant americans just be americans.

many, many people in europe have a parent or two that is foreign you dont see us having to rediscover our "heritage"
Softsong 5 | 495  
29 Jan 2009 /  #7
:-P

And everyone has different things they enjoy or feel proud of. Whatever floats your boat is fine and dandy for YOU. Why pour cold water on someone who has a different outlook. Obviously, if many Americans do this, there is an inner need. And so you being non-American lack the ability to understand. This thread is about those who do understand.
noimmigration  
29 Jan 2009 /  #8
This thread is about those who do understand.

Your american, whats hard to understand that. I have an irish father, it is a fact that is completely irrelevant, my ancestors dont make me who I am today. Only the culture I was born and raised in shapes me to be who I am.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
29 Jan 2009 /  #9
my ancestors dont make me who I am today

Really?.

I know you love havin a dig at the Yanks but I don't think you really mean that noimmi.
OP polam 5 | 11  
29 Jan 2009 /  #10
Only the culture I was born and raised in shapes me to be who I am.

I agree with that, to an extent. The problem is I was raised in America listening to Polish music (or at least the American version of Polish polkas), eating Polish food, celebrating Wigilia, and referring to my grandparents as "Babcia" and "Dziadzia." That upbringing is far different than my other American friends of Italian descent or Irish descent. I had a taste of Polish culture which whetted my appetite for more. I am not trying to deny that I am largely a product of American culture, but being an American is perhaps more complex than you think.
noimmigration  
29 Jan 2009 /  #11
eating Polish food, celebrating Wigilia, and referring to my grandparents as "Babcia" and "Dziadzia." That upbringing is far different than my other American friends of Italian descent or Irish descent.

Really, I spent my life in scotland eating indian food. Maybe be I am culturally indian.

I dont regard food as a cultural aspect, niether do I regard music as a strong cultural componant.

For me real culture is something intangible. Americans dont seem to grasp this.

I am culturally scottish, not because I was born in scotland or because my parents were scottish. I am scottish because I was raised in scotland from childhood to adulthood. scotland changed and formed my character and personality through its culture.

Real scottish culture to me is; people, community, kinship, ideology, sense of inward and outward perceptions, beliefs, dialect, politics, attitudes, behavioural aspects, understandings, banter, worldview etc,

Americans think that because they indulge in some foreign traditions whether this is lederhosen or bagpipes, that this has an effect or bearing on who they are. the truth is that it doesn, they are merely traditions.

You are ONLY influenced through real culture that is lived in everyday of your early life. That is what shapes you.
Lir  
29 Jan 2009 /  #12
That is what shapes you.

What shapes you I think !

Your opinion on this is not important, who cares.

Polam. Most people in a similar situation understand totally where you are coming from on this. Some posters come onto Polish Forums and have to harp on about their roots <which incidentally have nothing at all to do with Poland>
OP polam 5 | 11  
29 Jan 2009 /  #13
I dont regard food as a cultural aspect, niether do I regard music as a strong cultural componant.

Most people would disagree with you.

For me real culture is something intangible. Americans dont seem to grasp this.

Your condescension is really not necessary (or warranted).

I am culturally scottish, not because I was born in scotland or because my parents were scottish. I am scottish because I was raised in scotland from childhood to adulthood. scotland changed and formed my character and personality through its culture.

I don't think we disagree that I am an American and you are Scottish (but are you a Scot?).

Real scottish culture to me is; people, community, kinship, ideology, sense of inward and outward perceptions, beliefs, dialect, politics, attitudes, behavioural aspects, understandings, banter, worldview etc,

Yes, and the way community, kinship, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral aspects are cultivated is through common foods, music, dances, language, etc. passed on through generations.
noimmigration  
29 Jan 2009 /  #14
Yes, and the way community, kinship, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral aspects are cultivated is through common foods, music, dances, language, etc. passed on through generations.

No they are not. dont be ridiculous.

How on EARTH can community, political views, perceptions, behavioural traits be expressed through food.

I am sorry but you obviously have no clue what culture is.

Maybe thats why you americans desperately need to seek other cultures identity.

passed on through generations

In europe we have open borders, europe is no differant from america in terms of the melting pot.

A lot of my friends have irish, english, welsh, french, spanish parents. So please stop this crap about handing traditions down to your kids, because I am pretty sure the vast majority of americans dont bother their arses.

and for the record traditions can be handed down but culture cannot. culture has to be lived in from WHERE that culture comes from.

americans have perverted views of ethnic culture, just look at saint patricks day or skaddish highland games.
Elssha - | 123  
29 Jan 2009 /  #15
It seems that they were not encouraged to learn Polish.

They probably weren't. Before recent times, the idea was 'move and fit in' vs the more modern view of 'move and try to stay unchanged'. People in that time WERE encouraged to be american and ignore their past.

Some argue this new way of trying to retain one's cultural identity (the whole ______-american after the initial generation) is ruining the states today. Since everyone is trying to pull into their minority/ethnic groups the american unity is destroyed.

Personally I like the move to rediscover your roots, so long as its kept in perspective vs reincorporation with the ancestral land.

Quick RUN, there is nothing more irritating than a yanky root seekers who has just discovered their "heritage".

Bigot much? The difference is that the US largely lacks a long and stable culture unlike those in EU. Also, since all the main minorities are so insistent on keeping their culture (Mexicans, for instance) others feel deprived for not having a similar root to pull from. Thus the need to find said roots.

How on EARTH can community, political views, perceptions, behavioural traits be expressed through food.

You're kidding, right? Look up Japanese tea ceremony, look up why some nations won't eat certain foods (cow/pork) even though they are tasty and available, look up native amarican cooking practices, etc.

earlyfoods expressed everything there was about a population (now it's a bit diff with mass production and such high immigration practices). Hunts were communal, and thus the community had to share the spoils. In africa (for a modern example) there are villages that make this crappy porrage stuff that takes the whole village to prep and everyone takes it from the same place. One person/family wouldn't be able to produce it.

Political and religious views (historically largely synonymous) impacted what a culture could/should eat, and so on
Perceptions also fall under the former, though also translate to what people ate when, special ways some things were prepared, etc. My grandmother still has the superstition that an egg shell holds the chick's spirit, thus insisted I always crush the shell after using the egg to let the spirit free... I do that automatically now.

Behavior traits are practically what makes food so different in different parts of the world. And I don't just mean ingredients. Sushi looks like it does because they needed ways to make food compact. If i'm not mistaken Cornish pastries came about because men needed a lunch for work that they could eat quickly and without lugging utensils and other stuff that might fall and spill.
noimmigration  
29 Jan 2009 /  #16
bollocks food is food, is just cooked a differant way
Elssha - | 123  
29 Jan 2009 /  #17
lol
it's cooked different ways (or not cooked) due to the above.
Just cuz you're too thick to realize that is not my problem.
GrandeSande 2 | 119  
29 Jan 2009 /  #18
Quick RUN, there is nothing more irritating than a yanky root seekers who has just discovered their "heritage".

Firstly, you are not American and cannot know what it is like to have been brought up in a country that is made up of "foreigners". You have no knowledge of that which you speak, so why do you bother to criticize. If you are happy, I am happy for you, but mind your own business. There are those of us who know nothing, and I mean nothing of our heritage. I had four Polish grandparents and didn't even know what my real surname was until five years ago.

I will not bother you with further explanation, as you obviously just want to criticize; so, let us be and enjoy our new found "Heritage".
Softsong 5 | 495  
29 Jan 2009 /  #19
Besides, none of us are saying that we are Polish in the same way as someone raised in Poland. Just that something about us because of our heritage makes us slightly different than other Americans. And it is fun to discover why we do what we do, eat what we do. Being American pulls us all together in the longrun, but we are just talking about enjoying knowing that some things we do are actually things that were passed down to us by a former culture, even without us knowing it came from there.

Perhaps it is something as simple as I believe the general European folklore that if you drop a fork versus a spoon, it predicts who is coming to the home. I mentioned that to my Polish friend who was visiting, and the same type of thing was said in his home.

Or because my other grandparents were Germanic, I have always said, "Make out the lights." In the American south people say, "Cut off the lights." Up north they say, "Turn off the lights." I've been made fun of for my expression, but my father said that. It turns out that that is a common error a German person learning English would say.

So each American has things that are unique to the ethnic group they came from and it is fun discovering where it came from. No need to belabour the point. You, noimmi may feel differently, but feelings are feelings. You can have yours and we ours. No need to convince anyone that either feelings are more wrong or right.
Patrycja19 63 | 2,699  
30 Jan 2009 /  #20
many, many people in europe have a parent or two that is foreign you dont see us having to rediscover our "heritage"

Quote

you cant even re-discover your manners , no one expects you to re-discover your
roots.. just go find your dress and leave the genealogy dept alone.. its too bad you
dont want to know your family history anyways,, you might be surprised to find out
you have polish roots! Then you could kick your own self and tape it for us and we
can all sit back and have a good laugh.
Lodz_The_Boat 32 | 1,535  
30 Jan 2009 /  #21
Has it been anybody else's experience that the grandchildren of immigrants are far more interested in their heritage than the children of immigrants?

I think its common and normal. I find you as my Polish brother... Do come to Poland sometimes. Perhaps you feel alot more strongly for Poland than many Poles do themselves (unfortunately).

why cant americans just be americans.

I think Americans are very American when they talk about their roots. America is genuinely a representative of the entire world, because they are made up of little bits from the whole world. Its a special country, unlike Poland, Arabia, India or China or Russia etc... Its a different country than the usual theory of a country. Its a nation with roots all over the Globe. And if its diversity flourishes like this...I think the world will want and be PROUD of the fact that USA leads them. Due to this very attitude of polam... people can have confidence and love for this nation. However you indifferent and ignorant nature is what people seperate themselves from.

If you dont understand this point that i outlayed just above in brief...you just will keep failing to understand the course the world is taking...and your own leadership, and why it might just be the most successful reign after Abraham Lincholn himself....or maybe even more successful than him!

Patrycja19

Hi Patty...whts up :) ... How are you feeling in your new country?...the new USA?
peridot - | 1  
3 Feb 2009 /  #22
Yes!!!

My maternal grandparents emigrated to America in the late 1910's... My maternal grandmother emigrated around 1918, but I don't know when my maternal grandfather came over (they met here). I know my aunt (83 years old, bless her soul) still sends over clothes and letters to my relatives in Poland. My mom, her sisters and her brother all speak a little Polish. My grandmother taught herself English, but couldn't get the hang of spelling in English. :) I know a word or two in Polish... and a Polish Lullaby (phonetically - Shpee la letchko??) and Siwy Kón. I never knew my maternal (or paternal) grandfathers... they were both coal miners who died before I was born.

I know little or nothing about my father's grandparents, even if they are first generation or emigrated... All I know is they changed their last name to something that sounded less Slavic (perhaps to avoid persecution or prejudice). It makes it really difficult to do any research too because I don't know what my father's family's original surname was! It think they have a family plot, but I was very young last time I was at the cemetery (about 2.5 hours drive from my home), and I'm not really sure of the name... it was Ambrozyncki or something like that, but I'm not sure.

I'm really fascinated by Polish history and customs, yet I've learned more about Polish Traditions from my husband's family than my own.
juanita - | 2  
15 Feb 2009 /  #23
I just found this web site and read your message. i, too, am the grandchild of Polish immigrants. My grandfather arrived in this country in 1900 and my grandmother in 1901. My mother and her siblings rarely spoke of the old country and my grandmother died before I was four. My mother lost her father when she was only 16. The family spread across the U. S. and the closeness we once shared evaporated with time. I have always had a desire to know more about my Polish heritage and that has grown far stronger with advancing years. I wish my grandmother had been with us longer so I could have heard the stories she used to tell. My mother and her siblings weren't interested. I think they were the ones whose job it was to become fully assimilated into the American culture.
melmoon 1 | 5  
15 Feb 2009 /  #24
Yes I am the same though my Mother is Polish too. I do see myself as British but I definately carry some traits from the Polish lot and Im proud of them too. I am fortunate that I was told plenty about Poland and was spoken to in Polish for much of my childhood and even my father made an effort to learn despite him being VERY British.

I can totally see what you want to know more and its a very ignorant thing to suggest that knowing your heritage doesnt shape who you are. There are so many people who were adopted that claim they only felt able to know themselves when they knew where they came from.

And are you SERIOUSLY saying that if youre born in a country thats where your roots lie?
Id love to see you tell a muslim that. They build their own communities that are so cultural that I can say in all honesty you wouldnt know you were in England when you step foot in them NOIMM.

There are loads of Scotsmen I know that wouldnt see you as Scottish if your ancestry didnt origionte from there. Your bloodline wouldnt be considered pure.

Im sure that would make you feel like crap when youve lived there your whole life and have a stunning accent belonging there too.

All people are made up of all places. Few have pure bloodlines dating back to the Romans in this country and for most they dont care and will never investigate but for some it will be very important to do so and you shouldnt stomp on that, It isnt your place.

Good luck in your search I hope you find out some wonderful things that make you proud to be a part American Part Pole x
Davey 13 | 388  
15 Feb 2009 /  #25
And are you SERIOUSLY saying that if youre born in a country thats where your roots lie?

I disagree too. My friend was born in Canada and her sister in Turkey yet they were still born to Polish parents, eat Polish food, drink Polish booze, and speak Polish at home therefore they consider themselves Polish not Turkish or Canadian....
Sunflower 10 | 76  
23 Feb 2009 /  #26
You are ONLY influenced through real culture that is lived in everyday of your early life. That is what shapes you.

That can't be right.. if it were the case I would be an alcoholic no-hoper sleeping with every guy I meet.... actually. oh dear.... ;0)

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