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More Than Just Carnival:
What's on the Minds of Poles Living in Greenpoint?

From Nowy Dziennik (Polish Daily News)

January 9, 2002

By Bozena Chojnacka

The holiday season has made us slothful. We have fallen out of the rhythm of daily routines and responsibilities. The shopping rush in Greenpoint has completely faded, and many stores and companies here remained closed till January 7.

Perhaps it will take a few more days for the neighborhood to return to normalcy.

Holiday preparations, Christmas presents, and family gatherings are all over. So what are we preoccupied with now?

Considering the fact that lent begins in mid-February this year, we should be busy enjoying the Carnival. But are we? Is being merry really what's on our minds at this time?

"We should be going to parties and meeting with other people, as we always do during this time of the year," said Elizbieta, an owner of one of the stores on Nassau Avenue in Brooklyn. She believes, however, that Poles living in Greenpoint are still frightened after the tragic events of September 11 and simply are not in the mood for partying and celebrating.

They rather choose to stay home and cherish the peaceful family environment. Indeed, only a small fraction of people who attended last New Year's Eve balls and receptions in Greenpoint returned to celebrate this year.

Stasia Szpak, who works at Pol Travel agency on Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn, agrees that Poles in Greenpoint still feel insecure. "There is no panic or dread anymore. But there is no enthusiasm either," she said.

"Hardly anybody makes far reaching plans. People tend to concentrate only on the near future. Everybody wants peace and hopes that calamity will not strike again. Some Poles think of going to Poland over the summer, but travel agencies don1t have special deals yet," said Szpak.

On the other hand, Janusz Seweryn, who owns Seweryn Travel agency on Green Street, Brooklyn, said people are more at peace now. They have come to realize that they have no control over tomorrow. His clients often share their thoughts and reflections. They don1t know what they should do, he said. "Many thought of going back to Poland, but the high unemployment rate and the difficult economic situation in Poland has discouraged them from making such a decision," said Seweryn.

(Translated from Polish by Joanna Sufin)

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