After a year of fundraising, Dominika Bosak, Anna Curyło, Kinga Drozd, Marta Huszcza, Agnieszka Lew, Natalia Piórkowska, and Daniel Zawadzki journeyed from Kłodzko to Burnsville, Minnesota. This article is about the different activities they did and their thoughts about America.
When the students first arrived in Burnsville (a suburb of Minneapolis), they were a bit nervous about meeting their host families. A few days later, however, they all agreed that the host families were great. "They treated me like a member of their family," said Kinga Drozd.
The students experienced what an American family was like by living with them for two weeks, and the families took them to places like The Mall of America (the second biggest shopping center in the world!), school events (like basketball games and plays), museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, and relatives' houses.
"Before this, I never predicted that American people were so nice to foreigners. They asked about everything, not because they were interfering, but they just wanted to know me better," commented Anna Curyło.
The students attended Burnsville High School with their host brothers and sisters. They had a great deal to say about the classes that they visited. Kinga Drozd said, "I had never seen such a great school! The people were very nice and friendly. Even the teachers smiled!"
Natalia Piórkowska said, "I liked the American school very much. Students are taught to think more than just to remember what is inside a book. Also, they can choose the lessons that they want to participate in." Daniel Zawadzki said, "I think that it's cool that the students can take a class where they can play instruments in a band."
Touring Minneapolis and St. Paul
In St. Paul, they visited the Minnesota State senator, Senator Lesewski, the State Capital Building and the interactive Science Museum. The final thing the students did in St. Paul was to have lunch at Appetite's Cafe, owned by Kristen Wasyliszyn and Hassan Elatiki (who happen to be the sister and brother-in-law of their English teacher!). They tried all kinds of food, like chili (BrE: chilli), onion rings, cookies and root beer soda!
In Minneapolis, the students toured The Walker Museum of Modern Art. They had a wonderful guide, Mrs. Zweigbaum, who told them, "Don't tell me that your younger sister or brother can do this. Try to think about what the artist was feeling when she or he created this piece of art. How does it make you feel?" She taught everyone how to see art in a new way.
The group saw the Basilica of St. Mary, as well as the University of Minnesota, but the NBA basketball game was considered the best part by many of the students. They had a fabulous time cheering the Minnesota Timberwolves on to victory. Marta Huszcza said about the game: "It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I took some pictures of Kevin Garnett and other players. Now all of my friends, especially boys, want the pictures."
The Tolerance Talks
Several people visited the Polish students at Burnsville High School to participate in three days of "tolerance talks." These speakers talked about their experiences regarding gangs, violence, drugs, homosexuality, interracial marriage, intercultural marriage, Islam, race, immigration, and women in business.
These talks were very successful, because the speakers were all very open and honest about their lives and jobs. The Polish students were able to ask questions and make comments about the topics freely.
In addition, the students talked both about the disturbing and the positive things about Americans. The negative things they mentioned were: Americans eat in restaurants a great deal, they spend too much time at work and not enough time with their families, they drive everywhere and they watch a great deal of television. Some positive examples were: Americans are a lot friendlier, the schools are designed in a more logical way, there are lots of things to do for fun, there is a great deal of diversity and customer service is amazing.
The students would like to thank all the kind people who gave money, passes, transportation and their time so that they could travel to the United States and learn about American culture. Because of these fantastic people, the students did not have to pay either for their airplane tickets or for any of the activities they did in America.