Forget the traditional tales of seeking a better life, it’s time to spice things up a bit with a story of seeking a different life.
Recently, my clever 6-year-old daughter, a certified Brit with Polish roots, hit me with a puzzler over dinner: “Why are there so many Poles in the U.K.?” This nugget of curiosity surfaced after a day out hearing Polish chatter everywhere. My quick-witted nanny piped up: “They all came for a better life!” While there’s a grain of truth in that, I thought, hang on a minute, isn’t it time for a slightly more nuanced bedtime story? Especially since my daughter’s vision of Poland is painted by us, her parents, the bonafide Poland-to-U.K. migrators.
For centuries, Poland has been like the underdog in a history film – battling invasions, wars, and economic hurdles. This David-and-Goliath story led to many Poles, including yours truly, waving goodbye to pierogi and hello to fish and chips in a quest for better opportunities. But should this be the only narrative we hand down to our junior detective? Or should we, as her tour guides to her heritage, carefully craft a more comprehensive picture of Poland?
In recent years, Poland has been strutting its stuff on the global stage, showing that it can hang with the big boys and close the gap between living standards in the U.K. True, many Poles have made the U.K. their home for economic reasons, but I don’t want to paint Poland as some Dickensian backdrop where life is bleak. Instead, let’s invite our children to see the migration of Polish people to the U.K., including our family’s own adventurous journey, as a quest for a different life, not just an upgrade. This plot twist might just give our future generations a more respectful and open-minded view of cultural diversity and personal choice. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?