It’s no secret that Buffalo is one of the biggest cities that celebrates Polish heritage. And not only on Dyngus Day, but all year round. That’s because Polish veterans started to settle in Buffalo after WWII.
“They were coming from all over the world and they were meeting in Buffalo because there was quite a large community here,” said Mira Szramel, director and principal of the Polish Saturday School.
And so Polish immigrants decided to start a life in Buffalo, but they didn’t want to lose their language or tradition. They established a Polish school in 1955 to teach their children how to read, write, and speak the Polish language. Now the Polish Saturday School of Buffalo is celebrating its 63rd year, an accomplishment everyone is very proud of. Every Saturday morning, students from kindergarten to eighth grade, as well as adults, come to Polish school for a few hours to learn about their heritage. It’s sometimes difficult for the students to appreciate the opportunity when their friends are home on the weekend, but when it’s all said and done many are grateful for the valuable experience and education.
“We have students who attend Polish school who have better jobs and higher positions now because they speak a different language,” said Szramel. “There’s also many friendships built here that wouldn’t otherwise have been made.”
Not to mention those who attend are able to enjoy the language and education of their history with their parents and grandparents.
“I went to Poland to meet my family members for the first time and I got to communicate with them,” said Izabela Seagrave, a student at Polish Saturday School. “It made me really happy to be able to do that.”
But in order to keep the Polish school alive, a school that will continue to teach generation after generation of young people and adults their heritage, the nonprofit needs the community’s support. A Spring Craft and Vendor Fair to benefit the school will be held May 5 at the school, 83 Gualbert Ave., Buffalo from 12:30pm until 4:30pm. There will be vendors, baked goods, handmade wreaths, decorations, jewelry and more.
“It’s important for us to keep the school attractive to kids and adults. We want the community to know that the opportunity to learn about Polish heritage is out there and these events not only help us keep the tuition fee low, but it also helps us make new friends,” said Szramel.
Ewa, a volunteer who came to Buffalo when she was only 4 years old, is grateful for the opportunity she was given at Polish Saturday School. While it wasn’t always easy, she’s now able to teach her own daughter about the Polish heritage as well.
“I didn’t know how to read, I knew how to speak, but I didn’t know how to read or write, and I was able to have that education in Buffalo because of the school. Now that I’m older I appreciate it because I have a bigger connection with my community.”
For more information on the Buffalo Saturday School, visit www.facebook.com/polishsaturdayschool.