Friday, March 24, 2006

Pictures from Poland

(clockwise from the top)Shannon at Lazienki Park, Kimberly and Gabi, Old Town Square in Warsaw

To Poland With Love

Frederick Chopin was buried in Paris, but he requested that his heart be put in an urn and sent to Poland. I know Warsaw is not Paris, but it has its own merits. I learned this last week while I was in Poland to visit the American School of Warsaw. Their student body is made up of kids from many countries, creating a rich, exciting environment. The staff and students made me feel very welcome and I will always remember them. They may be ambassadors for their countries, but they are also citizens of the world.

My husband and daughter accompanied me on the trip and while I spoke at the school, they ventured out on their own. My daughter had learned a few Polish words and phrases before arriving so we relied on her greatly. Going to Poland made me wish I could speak a hundred different languages. That way I could communicate better. But even with our clumsy attempts, the Polish were very accommodating. One waitress patiently went over the entire menu for us. And many times we were reminded that a smile is universal.

On Friday we took the train to Krakow. While there I met the illustrator for Waiting for Gregory. Gabi was as lovely as her paintings. We also met her delightful daughter Zak(I'm sorry that I can't figure out how to put those two dots over her a) and her boyfriend Greg. It was fun to get to know Gabi over fish soup and to learn a bit about her process. "People think that my pictures flow from the paintbrush like they appear on the pages," she said, "but it starts with two lines." It's funny how similar most arts are. My first drafts are awful with tiny bits of hope glimmering here and there. The joy comes in the rewriting.

I will miss Poland. I will miss the leisurely meals, the yogurt, the Borsh soup. And most of all, I'll miss its beautiful people.