on Polish Women
From Nowy Dziennik
By Karolina Kowalska
"I was going to read a few embarrassing jokes about Polish
women in America, but seeing such a wonderful audience, I just cant
do it." With this statement Professor John Bukowczyk of Wayne
State University opened a conference devoted to Polish women living
in the United States,"The Polish American Woman: The Other
of Both Cultures."
Gathered in the stylish rooms of the Kosciuszko Foundation, professors,
students and other participants of the event spent five and a half
hours contemplating the fate of Polish female immigrants. They talked
about the hard work of first generation immigrants and the negative
stereotypes popular among Americans. Professor Bukowczyk, who has
analyzed hundreds of jests, tried to explain the phenomenon of Polish
jokes to the audience.
"The term Polish jokes has become a rhetorical
figure. The jokes portray Polish women as being stupid, vulgar and
unhygienic. But we all know thats not the case," he said.
Follwing his speech, Professor Beth Holmgren of the University
of North Carolina presented a lecture about Helena Modrzejewska
[a Polish actress who came to the U.S. in 1876 ] and the struggles
she had faced here.
"Modrzejweska came to America, leaving behind her fame and
her fans. Like any other immigrant, she struggled with loneliness
and isolation. She knew, however, that coming here was the only
way to secure the financial stability of her family. When she and
her husband finally decided to leave, sadly they realized they did
not have enough money to go back home,' said Professor Holmgren.
Professor Joanna Rostropowicz-Clark of Rutgers University spoke
of Danuta Mostwin, a contemporary Polish female writer who also
decided to immigrate to the U.S, in her lecture "Profile in
Courage and the Freedom from Prejudice." Her lecture was followed
by other presentations, including those by Anna Frajlich-Zajac of
Columbia University, Dr. Henryk Cioczek of Brooklyn Maimonides Hospital
, Professor Thomas Gladsky of Michigan State University and Professor
Katherine Jolluck of Stanford University.
Translated from Polish by Joanna Sufin.
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