Polonia. From Polish land to Poland

Pamela Bożek


‘In a narrower sense, Polonia is a term referring to people identifying with Polish origins and emotional connections to Polishnness, but born outside Poland. The people preserve such connections to tradition and national culture in the second or later generations, at various levels of identification with Polish issues.’ entry ‘Polonia’, Polish Wikipedia


Khava, Aminat and Mellissa are refugees waiting, together with their families, for international protection to be granted. They are living in the former “Hotel Polonia” in Łuków, which has been transformed into a Centre for Foreigners. The Warsaw ‘Hotel Polonia Palace’ started its operations in 1913, and contrary to that of the Łuków Polonia-centre, its name was not accidental: during Partitions, it was supposed to elevate people’s spirits with a vision of independence, autonomy and freedom.


To a end the workshop, “From Polish Land to Poland“, the girls came from the former ‘Hotel Polonia‘ in Łuków to the Polonia Palace Hotel in Warsaw — thereby, I wanted to symbolically maintain and highlight their status of persons residing outside Poland — of girls who speak Polish, have been living in Poland for the past few years, are studying at a Polish school, but incessantly remain uncertain.


Hotel Polonia is a waiting site, a site of spinning visions of independent living in Poland, and beyond ‘borders’ of the centre. Travelling through Warsaw, we followed traces of female guides I invited – Katarzyna Michalczak, Suzi Andreis and Agnieszka Kazakoszczak – activists, who for many years have variously supported women and girls in their own choices.


This is a girls’ narrative – from four perspectives. On apparent ease. On games we all once played, but which ruthlessly reveal changes that have taken place in ourselves and in the world since we were teenagers.