Never Poles apart

13th April 2007 at 01:00
They were neighbours in Poland, and now by chance in Wales

WHEN EWELINA Kowalska, a modern foreign languages teacher, emigrated to Wales two years ago, she did not expect to be living just two streets away from a fellow Polish family.

But then Ms Kowalska, who teaches German at Cardiff's St David's Catholic college, struck up a conversation with 16-year-old Monika Jacimowicz in between lessons. And she discovered that the teenager, who now lives close to her in the Canton area of the city, used to be a neighbour in the Polish city of Wroclaw.

The two families have now exchanged tales of their move to Wales after unearthing their shared roots. Ms Kowalska and husband Dawid, a PE teacher, moved to Wales because they felt it offered more opportunities.

"It's nice to meet people from back home, and especially to discover Monika had lived in the next street, but Welsh people are also very welcoming,"

she said. "My daughter goes to St Mary's RC primary in Canton and everyone has been so helpful. She is now good at English and is learning Welsh."

Monika, whose mother works as a care assistant in Wales, said a lack of jobs back home had prompted her family to move. But she admits that not being able to speak English fluently is difficult.

She has decided to delay taking her exams for a year while she boosts her skills in English classes, along with the rest of her family.

Her friendship with the only other Polish student at the college, Paula Wojewoda from Gdansk, has helped her settle into her new life.

"There are no jobs in Poland for university graduates," said Paula. "I would like to study science and become a hospital pharmacist."

Monika hopes to study German, chemistry, biology and physics. Both girls say they love Wales but still find the Cardiff nightlife a bit daunting.

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