I went back to Warsaw for a third time last week with my students for an exchange we run with a Polish high school there.
My Polish colleague couldn’t stop pointing out the new housing going up, and telling me how Warsaw is changing, with fancy new apartment buildings everywhere. She told me that next time I must return to Praga, the hip neighborhood that we walked through one afternoon last time—that it’s becoming more and more interesting.
The story of Warsaw was hardly new to me this time, yet it was still a bit of a jolt to be in a city so heavily marked by its past. The old town is beautiful and a monument to human perseverance—but everywhere you look, there’s nothing older than 1945. The 3D film that plays at the Insurrection Museum is available on Youtube if you want to see it for yourself.
I can’t help but wonder about the generation that my students have their exchange with, and whether or not this past weighs heavily on them.
It was a wonderful trip if a little more stressful than my previous one to Slovenia, simply because we had twice as many students with us. I left with a half empty suitcase and it came home full: two bottles of vodka (one store-bought, one home-made), one bottle of beer, two games for Littlest plus a book about colors in Polish (had to practice some pronunciation for that one), a pair Pumas, and a DVD for the lycée. If I had gone to the pottery store earlier in the week, I would almost certainly have come home with some more Polish pottery.