For the Polish Independence 10k/5k Run/Walk on Sunday, hundreds of participants created a sea of red and white as they ran and walked through Montrose Harbor in Lincoln Park.
Mark Ogarek, a McCormick senior and the president of the Polish American Student Alliance, attended the ceremony commemorating Poland‘s 104th anniversary of independence while wearing a traditional red Krakowiak cap replete with rainbow ribbons in place of the traditional bird feathers.
Mark Ogarek, a McCormick senior and the President of the Polish American Student Alliance, attended the ceremony commemorating Poland’s 104th anniversary of independence while wearing a traditional red Krakowiak cap replete with rainbow ribbons in place of the traditional bird feathers.
Ogarek, one of the alliance’s four attendees, noted that Chicago has a sizable Polish population. It has one of the highest concentrations of Polish immigrants in any American city. “They commonly refer to Chicago as the capital of ‘Polonia,’ the term for Poles living abroad,” Ogarek added.
Several generations of immigrants and people of Polish heritage participated in the race. The event’s leaders led warm-ups and provided instructions in both English and Polish before the commencement of the activity. The American and Polish national anthems were also sung while organizers and attendees stood.
By the finish line, participants could pick up traditional pierogis, ptasie mleczko, a delicacy made of chocolate and marshmallows that in Polish is known as “bird’s milk,” and other Polish cuisines. Mikey Wolski, a junior at Weinberg, claimed to have run across seven family friends there and that attending events with Poles helped him feel “a little more at home.”
Since everyone is Polish, there is a feeling of familiarity among them, according to Wolski. I feel like I already know you better just because you’re Polish. Magda Slowakiewicz, a junior at Weinberg and the PASA Social Chair, said she likes going to club events in addition to the race, such as the Polish Culture Night the group does in the spring. The club sponsored a traditional folk dancing troupe for the event the previous year, and attendees enjoyed Polish cuisine, including various kinds of pierogis.
Every weekend, Slowakiewicz travels to her parent’s house in the South Side of Chicago, where she converses with her parents in Polish. She said, however, that she had a group to meet other Poles when she is at university. At least when I’m (at university), I have some people with whom I can discuss my Polish ancestry, customs, cultures, and other matters said Slowakiewicz.
According to Ogarek, he wasn’t always proud of his ancestry. His parents made him go to Polish school every Friday when he was younger. Ogarek claimed he would have preferred to be “like the other youngsters,” not speaking Polish.
He now sees things from a different angle and wants to spread his culture to everyone. He shows his buddies secret Polish eateries in the city and teaches his girlfriend some terms in the language. Ogarek added that he also invites everyone to the club’s events. The Polish American Student Alliance is open to everyone, regardless of ethnicity or ancestry, according to the first line of its mission statement, according to Ogarek.