Joanna Filip, Polaron European Citizenship: Hi Anthony.
Anthony: Dzien dobry! (with a big smile)
J: How are you? Everything’s well back there in Poland?
A: It sure is! You know how I feel about Poznan! (laughs)
J: Great to hear! So, I have a couple of questions, now that you finally are a Polish citizen.
A: Go for it!
J: What is it with this emotional attachment to Poland that you have?
A: Well, my background is Polish for starters (laughs). I have always felt Polish and after my grandparents passed away, I missed the Polish culture and traditions so much that I joined a Polish dancing group in Melbourne called Polonez to meet more Polish people and get in touch with the culture again.
J: I guess we could say that Polish Citizenship Confirmation was sort of a natural step to take, wasn’t it?
A: Precisely! For a very long time I had wanted to become Polish officially. I’ve been to Poland over 10 times already. Now, I have Polish friends all over the world and a Polish girlfriend with whom I’m currently living in Poznan.
J: Good on ‘ya! (both laugh). Who was Polish in your family?
A: My grandfather on my mother’s side was Polish and came from the Wielkopolska region of Poland. My mum’s mum also came from Poland and she was from the Polish region of what is now Ternopil – Ukraine. Before starting my ancestry search, I didn’t know a great deal about my grandparents, where they came from and their journey to Australia after WWII. I didn’t have any Polish documents or much information about their histories – I was too young to ask – and they passed away before I was old enough to ask.
J: I see. I think it’s just how it is when you’re young. You feel like they will be with you your whole life and you’ll have plenty of time to talk such things through.
A: Yeah, I guess so.
J: But have you had a chance to hear any stories from them or your parents about Poland?
A: I remember one story that I heard when I was younger from a relative of mine about my grandma and when she was a young woman. It was during World War II and my grandma left the house to buy some food and that day she never returned. She was taken by the Germans and for years her family never heard anything from her and didn’t know what happened to her and assumed that she had been killed. Now, I have met my aunt and uncle and they tell me about the old days when they used to have a big farm and grow all their fruit and vegetables there. In summer they looked forward to fresh berries and during the warmer months they would pickle different vegetables for the winter time and store it in their “piwnica” (basement). I also remember hearing stories about having to line up for food during the communist times in Poland and everyone having a “card” or booklet and you would collect stamps or tickets for food/clothes/shoes, etc.
J: Scary times.
A: I cannot even imagine!
J: You’ve been to Poland many times already. Any special place that you like most?
A: Yes I have been to Poland on many occasions, over ten times now. I’ve been to many places including: Walcz, Pila, Szczecin, Poznan, Kornik, Rogalin, Wroclaw, Wieliczka, Oswiecim, Krakow, Zakopane, Lowicz, Przemysl, Warsaw, Olsztyn, Gdansk, Gdynia, Mazury Lakes, Bialystok, Bialowieza and probably more (laughs). I like Poznan the most because I fell in love with this city so it has a special place in my heart.
J: You’ve probably been to more places than I have! (both laugh) Can you say anything in Polish? It’s a tough language!
A: Yes, it is! (laughs) I am very thankful to my grandparents for teaching me Polish as now I am pretty much fluent in Polish actually.
J: Wow. I’m truly impressed!
A: Yeah! (smiles). I’m able to communicate with people and for me, the most important thing is that I can communicate with my girlfriend’s parents and grandma as they do not speak any English. So for me, being able to speak Polish is incredible! My favourite Polish word is “zajebiste” and my favourite expression is “jasne jak slonce”. “Konstantynopolitanczykowianeczka” is a funny Polish word, it’s actually the longest word in the Polish dictionary and means “a little girl from Constantinople”.
J: It’s even hard for me to pronounce it! (tries to say it quickly). Yes, that must be the longest word there is in Polish. (both laugh). Do tell us what did having your Polish Passport give you?
A: It has given me the freedom to stay and live in Poland (and the EU) for as long as I want. If I didn’t have my Polish passport, I would have had to return to Australia after 90 days in Europe. This way I’m able to stay until my heart is content without having to leave due to visa restrictions. I am also able to work in Poland and any EU country as I’m a citizen of the European Union now! It’s an incredible feeling knowing that I have no visa or work restrictions. If it wasn’t for my Polish passport I would have had to leave Europe long ago! However, now I have been living here for about 13 months and I’m loving it!
J: I’m glad to hear that. Are you planning on staying?
A: Well, yes. I intend on staying here for the immediate future. The beauty about having dual citizenship is that I can come and go as I please. If my girlfriend and I decide to try living in Australia one day we can, and we will always have the option of returning and living in Poland (or anywhere in the EU).
J: Exactly! It is so beneficial! I feel a bit envious (both laugh). Are there any other benefits that you appreciate having after Polish Citizenship Confirmation?
A: The incredible thing about Polish citizenship is that I’m able to pass it onto my children and they can pass it onto their children and so on and so on. However, if I didn’t obtain my Polish citizenship then my children wouldn’t be able to get their Polish citizenship as Polish citizenship law only extends to 3rd generation. So, I was the last chance as my mum has not obtained her Polish citizenship. I will apply for my children’s Polish citizenship and passports as soon as they’re born as they are invaluable documents which provide you with options in life. They provide you with the option to live and work in the EU without any visas or additional paperwork which is incredible, and I want my children to know about their Polish background, so what better way, then to learn through having their own Polish citizenship and one day going to Poland to find out what it is like to live and work there! I hope they will also aspire to find out about their roots and want to learn more about Poland.
J: Well, I hope so to. Thank you, Anthony. It was a pleasure. We all wish you all the best. Enjoy Poland!
A: Thanks! I do appreciate you guys made it happen for me!