Thefamous story that is an example of recollections about diversity isthe phenomenon happened during the World War II. It is the tragicholocaust that happened during the German occupation in Poland wherea genocide was made by the ThirdReichthat killed millions of lives of Polish Jews. Hitler blamed the Jewsin Germany’s loss of World War I which is an illogicalgeneralization and Hitler accused them of being dishonest andunworthy to be deemed as true Germans despite the Jews’ peacefulliving and positive contribution to the German Society. It had beenthe Nazi’s policy to view Jews as a disease that needs to be wipedout. When Germany invaded Poland, they imposed the Nazi’s policythere killing the Jew’s population. Hitler discriminated the Jewswhich obviously shown his unconcern to the religious and racialdiversity of people.
Thisstory made me realized to respect cultural, religious and racialdiversity. Discrimination is like a poison that will bring no harmonyto a society so it must be avoided. The slavery that happened in thewestern countries also shaped my belief that equality is an importantkey of people to live harmoniously with each other. Books thatinfluenced me are TheSneetches and other Storiesby Dr. Seuss and WorldAlmanac.These books made me exposed to different cultures and beliefs and itmade me learned that we should adapt to the indifferences of thepeople around us and we should pay respect to their ethical,cultural, and religious diversity as long as their practices do notthreaten nor harm other people. In this way I believe that respectbegets respect so if I learn to respect them, they would learn torespect my beliefs too.
Iwas born in United States and I have a Polish descent. I was able tointerview two of my family members my grandmother Eleanor Fetsko andmy mother Ellen Adams Mulqueen. My grandmother was the only daughterof my great grandparents. She was born here in U.S. though my greatgrandparents were from Poland. My great grandparents were arranged toget married. When they were still small children, they migrated tothe United States of America around 1900s. Sadly, my grandmother didnot cooperate well while I was interviewing her so I got vagueanswers from her especially questions regarding their past becauseit’s either she can’t remember or she’d show her nastiness bynot answering.
Accordingto my grandmother Eleanor, they used to have a small store whichserved as their business before. Her attitudes toward work wasdifferent when she was younger because she just used to assist hermother in their small store and then when she grew up and her mother who is my great grandmother died, she got no other choice but to rantheir small store independently. So her attitudes toward work gotmore serious when she grew up and had her own family. Success forgrandmother is when she was able to raise their children and madethem all finish their studies. Her children’s success is also hersuccess. Since my grandmother had a small store, they were able toget by their lives well because my grandmother was also able tofinish her studies and she became a nurse. They are one of thefamilies who belong to the middle class back then and when she was inher adulthood she continued managing their store as well as studyingin college. Her class did not really have an impact because she justwanted to live a normal life back then (Eleanor Fresko, personalcommunication, April 26, 2014).
Mygrandmother met my grandfather in Edwardsville when she was workingat her parents’ store. Although my great grandparents had anarranged marriage, my grandmother did not follow that tradition andshe got married to my grandfather who was a handyman who also didconstruction works and who also volunteered to be a fireman in theirdistrict. My grandfather then used to visit my grandmother in herparents’ store and that was where their love story happened andthey had simple wedding years after. My grandmother, being the onlyoffspring of her parents, was very well-loved. Though she has a nastybehaviour, her love for her children is still evident up until now.Unlike my great grandparents, my grandmother was the first in ourlineage to have a proper education and finish college. She became anurse which gave their family more source of income other than theincome they got from running her parents’ store .The foods sheeats are combinations of Polish and American cuisine. They celebratedPolish holidays but since they were staying in U.S. for quite a longtime they got adapted to the changes so they only celebrate Americanholidays now by a simple dinner or simple lunch with the family(Eleanor Fresko, personal communication, April 26, 2014).
Whenmy grandmother was still young, the major event that has been goingaround on that time was the aftermaths of the World War II. Sincetheir time, America has been leading the economy so my greatgrandparents thought that migrating here in the U.S. will bring themgreener pastures. She did not have any difficulty adjusting toAmerican culture since she was born here. Technologies like oldcameras and betamax and phonographs were some technologies that mygrandmother used that are not used nowadays. My grandmother is a homebuddy so she just likes spending free times in their house. On hertime, women are quite discriminated because people only see them asweak and fragile beings that their only work should be in the kitchenor to take care of other people. Since equality has been an issuethroughout the generations, that view has changed and women now areviewed as with equality to the skills of men (Eleanor Fresko,personal communication, April 26, 2014).
Asfor my mother, when she was still single her name was Ellen Adams andthen changed to Ellen Mulqueen when she married my father RyanMulqueen. Just like my grandmother, my mother was also born here inU.S. because our lineage here in U.S. started when my greatgrandparents migrated here from Poland. Our great grandparents neededto get away from Poland because of the impending war that mighthappen there. In order not to live everyday with fear in theirhearts, they were relocated here in U.S. (Ellen Mulqueen, personalcommunication, April 26, 2014).
Mymother is the youngest of her siblings. Most of the works were mostlydone by her elder sisters when she was a kid. They continued runningtheir family’s business which is a store when my grandmother gotweak because of age. They were able to work harmoniously with eachother because they have given specific tasks in running their smallbusiness. Success for my mom is her good upbringing to me and to mysiblings as well. She just wants us to be good in everything we doand not to forget our responsibilities to support and be always therefor them whenever that they will be needing us. Since my grandparentsused to have their own professions plus the small business in thefamily, my mother and my aunties had a decent life. My mother’sinspiration in finishing her studies is my grandmother. She wants tohave a decent life of her own family as well. Mom met my fatherduring their college years. They continued to be a couple afterfinishing college and after a couple of years they also got marriedin a church wedding (Ellen Mulqueen, personal communication, April26, 2014).
Mygrandmother has her nasty attitudes but her and her husband’s loveto their children can never be denied. They never fail to teach theirchildren the importance of family. Nothing much has changed from theway my great grandparents treated my grandmother and to the way mygrandparents treated their children including my mother. Mygrandmother was kind of strict to them primarily because they are allgirls. My mother, together with her sisters, was able to finishstudies. My grandparents wanted their children to be all successfulto their chosen fields so that they will be able to supportthemselves when the time comes that my grandparents can no longerwork (Ellen Mulqueen, personal communication, April 26, 2014).
Sincethey have been in the U.S. for quite a long time, Polish cultureespecially in foods and cuisines started to fade a little and theypractice the American culture more. But sometimes they still cookfoods with a touch of Polish traditions. Holidays that they celebrateare mostly American holidays like Thanksgiving Day, the Fourth ofJuly and Christmas (Ellen Mulqueen, personal communication, April 26,2014).
Mymother views the great recession in America as one of the majorpolitical and social events that happened in her stay here in U.S..Since she was born here, she did not have a hard time adapting to theAmerican culture despite her Polish descent. My mother is just onegeneration ahead of me so the technology is pretty much the samethough developments and innovations were made to some of thetechnologies like cellular phones, computers etc. My mother is veryoutgoing and she would usually take us with her to bond outside. Shedid not face any discrimination while growing up and people startedto open up their minds regarding the equality between men and women(Ellen Mulqueen, personal communication, April 26, 2014).
Thereis quite a difference between the way their family and work lives ofpeople before and what I am experiencing now especially during thetime of my grandmother. People nowadays give importance to thevirtues of individualism, independence and being self reliant. Thesetraits as we grow old also diminish over time. The AmericanProtestant work ethic also gives less concern to older people becauseit believes that when you are already incapable of working, you willeventually lose the core values that the society have for you. Peoplenow still give value to work but the treatment of older adults seemsto be changing from before to what is happening now.
Thereare a number of things about my family that I did not know before. Mygrandmother was the first person in our lineage to have a formaleducation and finish college and it quite surprised me. I would alsolike to know why my grandmother doesn’t like talking about her pastor how does it look like to have a traditional Polish wedding sincewe all grew up here in U.S.. Polish cuisines looks like healthierthan a typical American food, not to mention that they are moredelicious.
SincePoland have a fair share of rich history and culture, most of thethings that were said to me during the interview were tackled in myprevious classes so basically I have a prior idea of our heritage andethnicity before the interview and before the making of this paper.
Whenthe integration of European countries was coming to rise, that wasthe time when Polish culture had a significant opportunity. After thefall of the Wall of Berlin, people looked to Poland with hope withthe help of the exOriente luxto put a new fresh power and revitalising inspiration. Poland whichis located at the very heart of Europe was previously viewed as the“Republic of Many Nations” that has a rich culture which isinfluenced by different other cultures. The country was able to jointhe Eastern and Western traditions including the Orthodoxy mysticismwith Latin classics, the Hasidic Jewish Tradition and the Sarmatians’baroque mythology (en.poland.gov.pl., n.d.)
Polishliterature took a dramatic and convoluted course of their historybecause of its individuality and variety. They have a free country’sliterature that has a touch of the adventures of European revolution.Their literature undergone changes from classical to contemporaryliterature duty to rebellion and from history to metaphysics(en.poland.gov.pl., n.d.).
Theart of Poland took a different turn from the Western culture becauseof the difference in history that they have encountered. Their artfocuses more on the importance of having a united Europe. During thesecond half of the 20thcentury, the most important characteristic of Polish literature wasall about rebellion which called for the attempts to have dignitywhen they are undergoing undignified times and defending theirbeliefs despite of the limitations. Polish art constantly goes backto freedom as its subject and a sense of mission to mean somethingthat makes it attractive and comparable to the Western modern culturesuffering because of their contemporary “crisis of meaning”(en.poland.gov.pl., n.d.).
However,humanism and low social effectiveness affected the culture of Poland.Back in the Renaissance Golden Age period, there have been symptomsof anarchy and disorganization of public life in Poland because itbrought weak central power to the elected kings. Freedom ofindividuals and bad governance of the country’s administration ledto a situation where people become the captain of their own ships inliving in their own lands. Another factor is the historicaldiscontinuity and uncertainty because of wars also affected theculture and tradition of Poland. Third significant cause of lowsocietal effectiveness that affected the Polish culture is connectedto the country’s long rural and agricultural life. This resulted toa low degree of urbanization plus the high proportions of people inthe city who are not a native of Poland city dwellers that areeither Germans or Jews. Last factor is the reformation of Poland’sreligion that also brought changes in some Polish traits likeconscientiousness, accountability and trustworthiness. On thecontrary, the culture of Catholicism advancement is intense (Boski,2012).
Interestingarguments, problems and dilemmas circulated in the Polish culture.Poles usually have their string humanist identity which is connectedto their native culture. However, they strive to comply to theEuropean social effectiveness that is missing in their homes. Polesclearly want to experience the best of the two systems. Maybe mostPoles will become more and more bicultural since they want to behumanist at the same time be more socially effective. With humanism,the indifferences individually between Poland natives and non Polandnatives are relatively smaller than their indifferences in thecultural sense. Immigration of Poles also brought a significanteffect to their culture and traditions (Boski, 2012).
Polishas well as American-Polish cultures and tradition had a deep effectand impact to the United States of America. Impacts of Polishcultures surfaced in U.S. from their delicacies and cuisines to theirPolka festival. Since the Poland country was dominated and controlledby many countries, culmination of different cultures are evident tothe Polish tradition which have been brought to the America by thePolish migrants and immigrants. Polish festivals are commonly seen atRoman Catholic Churches where there are Polish communities. Thesecommunities eventually draw Catholics and non-Catholics because ofthe rich Polish culture that they can offer (Zamoyski, 1993).
SincePoles carry the heritage of Slavic tribes, traditions on Polishagrarian and rural past still hold today. Proverbs of Poland nativeswhere beliefs revolve in basic pragmatism, loyalty and honesty alsodid some effects on the American culture. The delicacies of PolishAmericans also have been undergoing changes over time. Polishinfluences marked the Americans’ increase of meat consumption likesausages and other staples like dark breads, cabbage rolls, potatoesand oat meals (Zamoyski, 1993).
APolish-American tradition like Pulaski Day is celebrated in theUnited States. In addition to that, American celebrations with Polishinfluences include liturgical holidays like Christmas and Easter aswell as the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday where Poles wouldtraditionally fried a type of fruit filled doughnuts where the sugarand fat will start the long fast of the Lenten season (Zamoyski,1993).
Beforedoing this assignment, I usually take for granted all the things thatare happening to me and would give less importance to the blessingsthat I receive. Although I have an idea of our ethnicity and culture,I never imagined that it would be this rich and this wonderful.Growing up in America almost feels like I am a full blooded Americanand sometimes I forget my heritage. I am very thankful to thisassignment because through this, I was able to take a look back tothe history not only of my family but to the whole history of Polandas well. I have also learned how the Polish culture is incorporatedto some American practices, beliefs and ways of living today. ThoughI never grew up in Poland, doing this assignment made me feel likebeing closer to my homeland even though in such a short time only.
Fromnow on I think that I will try to live more my Polish side than myAmerican side. I will ask my mom or my grandmother to cook me Polishdelicacies more often because in simple step like that I can relivemy Polish blood in my veins. I should always remember thecourageousness of my ancestors in surviving different revolutions andwars. There is a strong Polish blood in me that I should always beproud of and I would not let anyone to discriminate our race or evenany race because each race has their own rich set of fascinatingcultures that should always be respected.
Boski, P. (2012). Psychology of a Culture: Humanism and Social Ineffectiveness Embedded in Polish Ways of Life. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 38.
en.poland.gov.pl. (n.d.). Culture. Retrieved from Polska: Official Promotional Website of the Republic of Poland: http://en.poland.gov.pl/Culture,483.html
Fetsko, E. (2014, April 26). (R. Mulqueen, Interviewer)
Mulqueen, E. (2014, April 26). (R. Mulqueen, Interviewer)
Zamoyski, A. (1993). The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture. Hippocrene Books.