Thursday, October 8, 2015

Moja droga (Part 2)

After two months as a Peace Corps Trainee I left. I left the Corps. I left Poland. I returned to Texas disenchanted, discouraged, and disappointed. Not necessarily in that order. There are many reasons why I left.

The top two reasons I left the Peace Corps, despite the decade-long desire to join: 1) I had a fundamental, philosophical disagreement with the neocolonialist ideology permeating the Corps. Our trainers were much too concerned with us preaching the good news of so-called free market economics and not as concerned with us teaching English as a foreign language, which was, of course, what we were hired to do. My idealism and critical mind required I leave, and it wasn't only me. I was the thirteenth person to leave in the two months I was there. We were dropping like flies.

2) I had fallen in love with my best friend after graduating college and before I had left the US. This relationship was something I wanted to explore, something I thought deserved a chance. He had talked about joining the Corps or coming to visit, but sacrificing what had been my goal seemed like a worthwhile act, especially since I found my trainers so distasteful.

With two months of Polish language training behind me, I continued my studies when I returned to Texas and we moved to Austin. I took a class at UT. And after we moved back to the Dallas area and I began the MA program, I decided, after a course in Holocaust literature, to apply for a study abroad grant in order to study Polish while conducting research on the Holocaust for my thesis.

From October 1995 to March 1996 I studied Polish intensively at the intermediate level. After completing the MA I left for Japan for a two-year teaching job at a private university. While I was there I continued my Polish language studies; I even taught Polish to a Japanese woman for several months. After my contract was up, I returned to my Polish university to complete the advanced program during the summer months of 1999.

I was back in Poland for a few days in 2000 on my way to and from Ukraine, where I had a grant to learn Ukrainian. Then I applied for the Fulbright as an independent scholar to conduct research in Warsaw from September 2001 until June 2002. My project focused on lustration and attempts to de-communize the Polish government. It was really during my Fulbright that I became aware how odd I was: I was the only grantee with absolutely no genealogical connection to Poland; my name was the only one of the Fulbrighters that didn't end with a -ski or a -ska or a -czyk.

Several years later, I completed the PhD; one of my fields was translation. And even more years later, I finally had the thought, after giving up the delusion of an academic career, to put my Polish and translation and literature background to use and actually begin translating. Welcome to my world. Blah blah blah.

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