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Published by dlugoszmatthew, 2019-11-19 00:53:00

The Polish Journey



Matthew Dlugosz

Joy, exhilaration, and anticipation. All emotions which surged

through my body as I got closer to him. Seconds felt like hours, minutes

felt like years. There he was in all his glory, the president of Poland holding

our diplomas. Cheers echoed through the amphitheater. Eleven years of

failure, success, and dedication led to this one glorious moment. It was

during these eleven years when I discovered who I truly am and what I am

capable of. Mastering the Polish language, through a weekly Polish school,

opened many opportunities for me but it was definitely not the smoothest


Pollska Szkoła

ć, ń, ó, ś, ź, Ł

Coming from a family which immigrated from Poland, polish

was naturally my first language. From going to a polish daycare

all the way to going to a polish kindergarten, it became my

primary and only language. First grade came around and it was

a very withering experience. The English language came at me

without any warning or preparation. The language was firing at

me constantly with “Hey what's your name ” or “what's your

favorite animal”. All simple questions which I could not

understand or answer with words, but only a smile

The English Language

A couple of days in the first grade I already had a parent-teacher

conference. My teacher snaps “Your son is very disrespectful, every

time I ask him a question he just looks at me and laughs.”

Immediately my mom responded with “remember when I told you

he does not speak any English. He is not disrespectful he just does

not understand you”. From that moment on I was put into an extra

speech class where I would develop my English literacy. I still

remember the dreadful odor in that room, a scent similar to a wet

dog. I wanted to get out of the program as fast as possible, so in all

the effort I had and then some. I eventually made it to the highest

reading groups, becoming one of the highest level readers in my

class. My ISAT scores were through the roof and only a couple of

classmates could match or surpass my scores. English was not my

problem anymore, but my relationship with Polish was struggling.

By the time I reached sixth grade my mother tongue was rarely

ever used. My mind would instantly pick English because it was a

more convenient option. I did not appreciate the opportunities

that knowing a second language gives a person. Losing touch with

my grandparents and uncles made me realize that I need to keep

up with my polish language. I couldn't communicate with my

grandparents or uncles anymore because their primary language

was polish with very little English. I also started getting this

feeling of not being a true “Polak”. My identity slowly started

fading away and my heritage seemed like something I could not

relate to anymore. Realizing this I ran to my mom and

pleaded“Mom I want to start polish school again. I want to be able

to speak read and write it”


My mother along with my father was more than happy to hear

that their son wanted to learn their native language. Shortly after

my request they took me to the polish school were I had to take a

placement test. I placed into a class a grade level below what I

should actually be in. To me this was devastating because all my

friends were in the higher gra de, I wanted to be with them. Polish

school had a very rocky start for me because after being placed in

the lower grade I did not want to proceed with my education. It

embarrassed me and discouraged me, but I stuck with it all the

way up to the high school level classes.

Freshman year of polish school came around and I wanted to be

able to graduate with all my friends. I always dreamed of jumping a

grade to join them, and for a while, it just stayed a dream.

Completing two years of school all in one screamed failure to me,

creating a mental barricade. I needed it to become a reality, I had to

eradicate the fear and pursue the challenges that stood before me. I

approached my teacher about the opportunity to skip a grade

ahead. At first, she refused and doubted that I would be able to

handle the workload. Slowly over time, she gave me a chance to

prove to her that I could handle it. That action of me pursuing my

challenges taught me a very important lesson that resembles the

motto of my life. Wisdom is what you get from experience and

experience is what you get from failure. “Try and fail, but do not fail

to try” is a quote I take dearly to my heart. It motivates me to strive

to do anything and all that I want in life without fear of failure. It

was motivated to create an identity for myself and make my

heritage a bigger part of my life, I wanted to belong to the polish


I clenched my fear and threw it to the side declaring my fear of

failure was no more. The workload of Polish school merging with

the English school quickly taught me how to manage my time. The

two years of information quickly mixed in my mind giving me the

wrong understanding of concepts. Early tests showed signs of the

misunderstood concepts, but it was nothing I could not fix. In

order to skip the grade, I needed to pass all the finals with an A

average and excel in the presentation to the Board of Directors for

the Polish program. Countless nights were spent studying Polish

right after English school. Going out with friends was not an

option anymore. I was determined and focused, nothing could ram

me off my track. I needed to jump over the grade in order to be

recognized by the President of Poland, a once in a lifetime





The final exams came around the corner quickly. Geography,

history, and literature all flowing through my mind like code.

Pencils scratching the papers surface agressivaly. I was anxious

for the test day, I needed it to go well. Months of stress went

away as I completed each test and presentation. I passed, scoring

the highest out of my class on all tests. The Board decided I was

more than eligible to jump a grade level giving me the one in the

lifetime opportunity to be recognized by the President of Poland.

Try and Fail, But don't fail

to try

Now I am able to speak polish fluently along with writing and

reading. Now every time I am faced with a challenge I go right into

it without fear. I know that failure is a much better teacher than

success. Through failure I gain experience and through experience,

I gain knowledge. It is from the act of not trying that we gain no

experience and no knowledge. This motto of “Try and fail, but

don't fail to try” will stick with me through college and all of life

ensuring that no matter what the outcome is I will always learn



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