I’ll never forget one Saturday evening in London when I went to “The Polish House” to watch our former prime minister giving a talk on why we, the Poles in the UK, should go back to Poland. The intention was good, because as a politician, who cares about their country, why would you not want your counterparts to come back home?
The whole event, however, was a bit comic, because, traditionally, there was a bit of drama; arguments, shouting “For what reason should we go back to Poland!?” etc. The best though were two ladies around my mother’s age who argued with each other on who longer resided in London, at least that was funny, but the idea of bringing back home the Polish ‘prodigal sons’ didn’t work because it was the year 2007, one year before the financial collapse and a long way before Brexit, so most of Poles in the UK were well sorted.
Here I must un-modestly and with no offense say that I may be doing a bit better job than our former prime minister in implementing the idea of coming back to Poland. Since I moved to Warsaw I keep posting lots of photos from my new home city on Instagram and Facebook and I heard from a few friends of mine “You know, these pictures, it makes me want to go back to Poland”.
Perhaps there is no need to go all the way to the Great British Islands as magic Instagram filters are enough? 🙂
The matter of whether some of us will come back or not is a private business of an individual and it’s not my job to convince or influence anyone, and as I mentioned in one of my posts covering the topic of coming back to one’s motherland, one needs to be ready.
In the meantime, I’d like to point out why Polish immigration the UK was one of the best things ever for Poles:
Poland is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. It was a multicultural country prior to the war (Poles, Germans, Jews, some Czechs living here) and completely washed out of its ethnic variabilities after it, with minor but markable anti-semitic stints in the times of communism closed us to other nations and the otherness itself.
This isn’t good because the world’s strongest countries were built on immigrants, precisely on their hard work and cultural input. The United Kingdom is diverse and colourful and it’s not for us to judge how this will unfold but it’s a good thing to be living in such an environment for a while. Even if it’s just to get used to the otherness and realise that the world isn’t divided into races, but simply for good and bad people. The Poles in the UK do a good job because they blend with people from other countries and open up for them.
The expression ‘Chill out’;
There are some people in Poland who get upset that these foreign words ‘enrich’ the Polish language as ‘we should have our own words’, but I’d advise them to chill out about it 😉
The language is always progressing by borrowing vocabulary from their neighbours and dominant cultures and this will always be the case. Back in the 19th century Polish nobles enjoyed speaking French amongst themselves and if the repatriations for 123 years didn’t take away the Polish language, let’s chill out, and notice that the Poles in the UK learn how to chill. They stop worrying what other people will say about them and don’t get upset that someone wears a mini skirt, even though they have big thighs. In the UK those big tights is a private matter of their owner, not a random stranger.
We let go the judgments – a feature typical to the societies where ‘to have’ is more important than ‘to be’ and one needs to compare to others, in order to know who he is.
Most Poles came to the UK to make money. Obviously, there are exceptions but I’d like to highlight the mechanism which runs a person’s morale when they’re rewarded for their job, not only by stable fair salary but simply by an appreciation for their work.
Everyone who is at least a little bit involved in the Polish-UK immigration topic has heard that “Polish people are hard workers” and these aren’t empty words. Even after I moved out from the UK and travelled in Thailand, I heard numerous times from the English backpackers that “Polish people are nice and hard-working”. I know this is true because in casual conversation a Brit can open up and tell you what he really thinks. You need to know how to talk to them though and not every Pole is good at this, but it’s worth mastering this skill!
One thing is for sure if you’re appreciated your self-esteem grows. Self-esteem is a thing that most Poles need, the same as a flower needs water to grow. Really. There are no happy people with low self-esteem who are able to live fulfilled life and by so, making this world a better place. Cheers UK!
Some people worry about that the fact that there are many high-skilled workers who emigrate abroad and never come back. This isn’t only a thing in Poland, there are many countries in the world which face this issue, like for example Madagascar where it’s way worse because there truly isn’t much to go back to. The argument such as “We don’t need to compare to ‘these’ countries” is irrelevant because we aren’t talking about what country is better or worse, we are talking about an issue which we share as humans.
Personally, I was never too worried about the fact that high-skilled workers leave Poland. Firstly, even they have the right to try out a different life and learn something new, secondly, I am not bothered who leaves, but who comes back and what they bring back. After time spent abroad, whether it’s in the UK or anywhere else, a person doesn’t come back with the same mindset they left with.
An immigrant always gains, they gather experience, which with a dose of reflection can apply back home. In simple words – they can chill out and appreciate who they are and what they have achieved. Even though there will be less highly skilled workers who come back, those who do have a bigger impact on the environment because they have the most priceless thing in the world which no one can take away from them, the experience.
Immigration is a school of life, an army service to which we’ve not obliged anymore, a survival test and building you from scratch. A nostalgy for them and an escape to the unknown.
Immigration sometimes is a must, but primarily is always a choice. Let the people make this choice and support them the best ways we can so that they reach their life goals, in the UK and all over the world.