Meet Me in a Minute: Weronika Jozwiak


By Farheen Khan

In America, we are, at times, forced to assimilate into American culture, but many people, including junior Weronika Jozwiak, continue to incorporate their cultural beliefs and rituals into their daily lives. For Jozwiak, her Polish culture is very important to her; their compliance to keep going in the face of adversity is something that she respects.

“One thing I really love about Polish culture is our willingness to fight for what is important to us. There is a belief among Polish people that you should be willing to give up your life for three things: Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna, which means ‘God, Honor, Fatherland.’ Throughout Polish history, you can see this belief be really played out by Polish people. The countries neighboring Poland have tried many times to take over Poland, and on certain occasions, they have succeeded. They often time[s] targeted the Polish belief, and many Polish people died defending this belief. However, Polish people never stopped fighting for their freedom, whether it was through battles, civil disobedience, literature, you name it! Almost the whole Polish civilization could get together and show their resistance to their enemies. Their belief and their unity is something I admire,” she said. 

Having gone to Polish school, Jozwiak has learned a lot about her culture. It has taught her how to properly speak, write, and think in Polish. She’s also learned things like Roman numerals.

I went to Polish school from first grade to my freshman year of high school. My Polish school has taught me a lot of things.  Most importantly, they taught me to really be proud to be Polish through Poland’s rich history and literature. The Roman Catholic faith is extremely important to me since it really impacts my life and give[s] me a lot of hope and optimism. How can you be sad if your God is love?  The church I go to, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, is a very Polish church– everything there is Polish, from the masses that are in Polish, to the priests and nuns, who are from Poland, to the paintings, which some are from Poland. A good chunk of Poland’s culture and traditions [are] tied with Roman Catholicism. Today, 92% of Poland is Roman Catholic, which is about 37 million people,” she said. 

Due to economic reasons, Jozwiak’s parents decided to immigrate to the U.S.

My parents came here for economic reasons. When they left, Poland was under communist rule and the economy was in a terrible state. To just show how bad it was, my mom was the head of a laboratory that studied pollution, and she did not make enough money to live independently. That’s pretty much why she came to the U.S. She wanted to make some money to buy her own apartment. My dad also wanted to make some more money since the economy was so bad. Also, [he] wanted to escape being in the military. Actually, the day he emigrated from Poland, the military came to take my dad. My grandma (his mom) told them that he left, and if they wanted to go look for him, they could, but he’s in another country,” she said. 

Jozwiak’s friends value her dedication to her culture and religion.

“We live in a culture where the norm is to abandon your culture. To move out, to not go to Church, to party. It’s so nice to see someone who takes pride in their religion, is family bounded, and has classic values that reflect her sense of morality and character. Weronika is super hardworking, funny, and can make anyone’s day with a bright personality,” junior Saba Shalwani said.

Jozwiak is a hardworking student who doesn’t fear failure, which is something that keeps her going.

I guess something that keeps me motivated or inspires me in school is the fact that I still can play around with different subjects and see what I really like. Also, I won’t deny that I’m ambitious (sometimes a bit too much more than I can handle). In addition, I like learning new things, and I can do that in school. As to what keeps me going, I also like proving to myself that I can do a lot more than I even thought I could do. And if I fail?  Well, that is a humbling experience,” she said. 

Jozwiak is the type of person who keeps her friends going, no matter what.

“I remember meeting Weronika [for] the first time in sixth grade, when we were partnered up to do a mini-experiment about rocks. One specific thing we did was smell rocks. It was hilarious. We even contemplated to taste the rocks, as a joke of course! Since then, we became very good friends. I know her to be the person who works hard, staying [up] almost half the night studying or doing homework, and the person who is super awesome, who will always cheer me up when I’m not feeling my best,” junior Juveriya Ali said.

For Jozwiak, her parents have been instrumental in her growing as a person.

My parents have taught me a lot and have really impacted me.  First of all, they ‘passed down’ the Polish belief of ‘Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna’ (God, Honor, Fatherland), which is a belief that I really value. Also, my parents, being immigrants, faced many challenges when they came to the U.S. For example, they had a language barrier. However, they pushed themselves to provide a better life for my brother and me. I find this drive truly inspirational for me to push myself through my life,” she said.