What are Polish women like in Seattle?

Project SIS: Polish women in Seattle photo: Marta Bras
Polish women in Seattle, Project SIS, photo: Marta Bras

I was always inspired by women – those who went beyond the boundaries of comfortable existence, questioned norms, and set their own standards: queens, brave warriors, travelers. But also those who were never mentioned in the margins of history.

At some point, I started wondering what are Polish women like in Seattle?
Why did they come here and how do they find themselves in the Rain City? 

Polish women living in Seattle

When I arrived in Seattle in October 2016, it intrigued me right away that one generally does not hear people speaking about Polish women anywhere.
I didn’t know who the women whose road eventually led to the Emerald City were.
I didn’t want to believe the gossips and labels I came across: lonely, isolated, unhappy. In Polish “Matka Polka” translates to “stay at home Polish mom” which does not always have a positive meaning. I wouldn’t agree with the stereotypes and though!
So I’ve decided to see in my own eyes who the Polish women in Seattle are!

You cannot tell only one story about somebody.
One story, especially the incomplete one, the one that isn’t told by the protagonist carries a lot of risk. The risk is that the picture you get is often distorted. And if one keeps seeing this single distorted image, if one keeps repeating the same tales, our reality eventually becomes the repeated picture. A single story deprives us of looking further and reaching for more.

It took me some time to realize that I cannot sit and wait untill someone proves to me that there is much more to Polish women in Seattle. These are not simply women who came to Seattle following their husbands’ careers and cannot find themselves a seat at the table in their new reality.

What are Polish women in Seattle like?

photo: Marta Bras "Project SIS"
Photo: Marta Bras “Project SIS”

When I landed in Seattle, I didn’t know many people, so hearing negative opinions about women was especially hard when I kept hearing it like a mantra. I started wondering whether Polish women in Seattle really are so helpless?

Nobody mentioned that we all make difficult decisions and hard choices.
When I arrived, I didn’t hear about Polish women who feel happy bringing up their kids, about those Polish women who skillfully manage to pursue their careers and having children. I didn’t hear about resourceful, creative, intelligent and well-educated girls.
Obviously, nothing is just black and white: parenthood, career, as well as running your own business all have its shades of gray. We don’t receive a single life scenario. Sometimes it’s all about finding the harmony in ourselves, other times about managing the omnipresent chaos.

That’s why I’ve decided to look for women who will tell me about themselves and stuff that’s important to them. I was meeting more and more inspiring Polish women that brought many different stories and a variety of perspectives.

Polish women’s meetings in Seattle

Our conversations happened over a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, at home while breastfeeding, in a crowded elegant restaurant and the roadside bar.
These conversations could last for ages because when we find common ground with somebody and open ourselves to another person time seems to fly very fast.

One meeting led to another; our circle grew proving to me that we don’t need to belong to any organization, we don’t have to be in the same age group to understand each other…
I wanted us to have something more in common than the nationality. I also wanted for you to see my interviewees like friends (maybe even sisters ?) who are relatable.

Nobody dictated me the persons I should talk to. I was lucky – I believe that positive people simply attract one another! We can all live far apart; we can be mothers, wives… or not! We can work in our learned professions; we can study, think about our next step, or come back on the job market after a longer break – we all have our own rhythm.
Every meeting made me more and more aware of the incredible Polish women that you should hear about! The stereotype changed into archetype and a currency that I’d like to share with you. That’s how project SIS was born.

What is project SIS

I wasn’t sure how could I call the set of conversations we had.
I thought about SIS – an acronym can we could expand in different ways.
SIS initially stood for “Success in Seattle, ” but we all understand success differently, right? We all pursue different goals and want different things. That’s why in Polishfulfillment” (pol. “spełnienie”) and “satisfaction” (pol. “satysfakcja”) are also discussed in our articles.

I write “ours” because all of us put a lot of time and energy into the writing process.
Some texts already exist, others are still being written. Project SIS resembles the girls who agreed to take part in making something bigger.

Maybe this project will help you find your own path or enable you to see some sense in cooperation. It may also show you that it’s important to support each other not only after we achieved something, but also during the creative process. Maybe thanks to Project SIS we will get to know each other better, believe in ourselves and open for people around us?

What should you know about the project

„SIS” is the effect of a positive cooperation of Polish women who agreed to share their stories with you.
The articles came into existence because we managed to integrate them into our busy everyday lives.

What I will publish here will always be the effect of the work of three women.
We meet and have a good time but most of all we want to show you that the road is not always straight and that life is not black and white. I am sure that the text will be published at least once a month.

While choosing women to this project I wanted to show you the variety of perspectives and multilayered lives we all have.

I am extremely grateful to ALL of the ladies who agreed to take part in this project and believe that together we can do something good!

Most of all I’d like to thank Marta Bras who offered to take beautiful pictures of the women participating in Project SIS. Thank you, Marta, for your time and magnitude of patience you put into this project!