Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
Exploring my cultural roots in the small town of Cibory-Witki, Poland
My aunt and uncle picked me up at the airport in Warsaw.
My aunt told me I could sleep in the car because it was going to be a long drive. Their hometown of Cibory-Witki was 4 hours away. I told her I would rather chat with them than fall asleep; I wanted to make up for lost time.
I really had two reasons to be there. I wanted to learn what a Polish farm was like, but I also wanted to learn about my own family - the ones who decided to stay in Poland instead of migrating to America.
It was almost spring time, but the town was still covered in snow. Perhaps the cold was a downside of living in the north-east, but my uncle assured me that my mom had it worse. She grew up without gas or electricity.
My mother's stories about the town were fresh in my memory and an important part of this project. It was a very small town, isolated by massive fields and forests. The houses were made out of stone and looked worn out. The farm looked just as I imagined it.
However, things have changed too. My family did not milk the cow by hand anymore. They now use a big machine that pumps the milk from the udders through some tubes. They have brand new tractors and, sadly, most of the animals they used to have; horses, pigs, and sheep, were all gone. My aunt and uncle lamented it too. They told me it was because of tighter EU regulations. However, they still kept their cows, chicken, dogs, and kittens.
With all the snow, my uncle worked very hard to keep the roads clean. My aunt told me my uncle's days were long, but sometimes their son Peter would help. Afterwards, my aunt prepared nice hot meals for them.
The food was delicious. I got to try so many different Polish delicacies during my stay. I loved the Pierogi - Polish dumplings made up of potato, sauerkraut, and meat or cheese. However, my favorite was the Kopytka. Kopytka translates into ‘little hooves' because that's exactly what they look like! They were little, hoove-shaped, potato dumplings served with either bacon or sugar.
My uncle told me with pride that their kids were all going to school. My oldest cousin Adam was in a trade school training to be an auto-mechanic. The school was in the city of Bialystok, which was pretty far, so he rented an apartment there.
I went to Bialystok when I hung out with my cousin. The city was quite small, but it was certainly bigger than Cibory-Witki. The buildings recalled a time when Poland was taken over by the Soviet invasion, but Bialystok had still, quite beautifully, preserved much of its history.
After I left Poland, I felt a sort-of home-sickness. I longed to go back even though I was only there for less than a week.