Newry.ie

Dan Gebski interviews Kasia Jankowska

“A woman who is careful with her words is a gift to all who know her”. - Lysa TerKeurst.

This quote is a very accurate to my next Hero guest. Kasia Jankowska who  lives in Newry. She is an amazing person who inspires me a lot. She is a mother and wife and especially my good friend. Let me introduce you to Kasia and find out more about her journey in Ireland.

DG: Thank you Kasia for participating in my project “From zero to hero”. Could you tell me why Newry?

KJ: Of course, Dan. Let’s start from the beginning then. I came to Northern Ireland in summer 2004 same as many students, to earn some money for a future education. I have been studying administration in Cracow on a part-time basis and therefore needed money to finish my second year. I came by invitation of my friends Mirek and Bozenka and stayed in their house in Richchill, Co. Armagh. I had been working in a poultry factory at this time as a production operative. It was was a hard job but I enjoyed it anyway as it gave me a good profit. So I earned a lot of money and was very happy but… Yeah. I met someone who turned my plan totally upside down. Why Newry? You will find out reading my answer to the next question.

Kasia Jankowska
Kasia Jankowska

  

DG:I am lucky to know that you met your second half in Newry. Can you tell me the full story please?

KJ: Once I saved enough money for my education I decided to stay to the end of summer holidays. I found NI being quite attractive in terms of meeting a lot of new Polish people from all around the country who have also came here for a better life. On one occasion Mirek and Bozenka introduced me to a very interesting man – Marcin and we fell in love with each other and decided to be together. I have to say I had some unfinished matters in Poland. Of course, it was very tough but I flew back to Cracow leaving my poor fellow alone in NI and the only thing I remember from that period was a constant phone calls to each other in between the breaks from learning. I’ve successfully managed to finish studying and then came back to NI to stay for longer. Marcin was working in a steel factory in Newry. I decided to find a different job.  One day when we were driving together to Newry for shopping I looked out the window at the beautiful view in front of us and said to him: “ This view is breathtaking, look at the mountains there. I wish to live in this place”. Sometime later I lived in a lovely house overlooking the picturesque Newry area, had a husband and a new job in a local coffee shop and was expecting my first baby – Julie who is now 14 years old.     

DG: Is it doing two jobs easy task for a mother of two? Where do you work and do you enjoy what you do?

KJ: It is challenging but I really enjoy it.  I work in local Solicitors firm in an administrative position. It’s a great place I could not find a better one, not only I do what I like but also I’m in a very friendly and caring workplace where we are all almost like a part of a family. I’m also a part-time employee in one of the local chemists . Its a little bit different from my office work but very interesting and developing. Knowing that I can help someone is really uplifting especially now in these difficult times. But being a mum and working in two different places means that I need to put a lot of effort into organising every “pre-school morning” etc. My husband and my mum, who also live there are a good help but they’re both working so in many situations I have to count on myself.      

DG: I assume you like diversity as much as I do. As far I know you used to writing to the local paper on diversity before me? What made you to do that?

KJ: Once I’ve started to work in solicitor firm I found that there has been so many Polish people living around that had a little or no idea about things , events or traditions in this country. Remember Dan, it was 2006, when all these Ethic Minority Offices were not established or leaflets in our own language were not available yet.  That encouraged me to write a Polish column in the Newry Reporter for a year and a half.  Another great experience knowing that my advices and tips could help people in that time. 

DG: Do you think Newry is diverse city in your eyes?

KJ: Newry is one of the most diverse places in my opinion. And also, which is very important, friendly and concentrated on a wide community. There is a lot of projects going on there, of course some of them had to slow down because of the pandemic, but majority of the local people are trying to continue to deliver a good sense of diversity doing many online projects etc.  We can’t physically meet but internet is a good source of communication. I participate in many local online groups, one of them is Newry mums on Facebook and I found it to be a great source of information. Also your work  is a great example of bringing diversity into our community. We have started our project together “Breaking Diversity Barriers Building Community Bridges” but due to the circumstances beyond our control can’t continue it at the moment. It is only temporary and we have to remember that moment wont last forever.    

DG: One of your many hobbies is hiking. Why do you love mountains? 

KJ: Walking is good for physical and mental health. Hiking lets us to check ourselves in many difficult situations when weather conditions may change within minutes. It is also a good stepping stone from everyday life and a great relaxation to our mind, tired of everyday chasing. Climbing the summit brings great satisfaction and makes us believe in our own strength. I walk with a group called Wee Binnians which is great for socialising too. Unfortunately, walks have been postponed now. So at the minute, I try to practise some yoga and pilates at home or in my garden.     

DG: If you had a chance to be born again. Would you be born as male or female again?

KJ: Yeah…I really like this one, Dan. My answer is female. I would like to be the same person as I am now. 

DG: What would you say to the people out there in this difficult times during covid-19?

KJ: I would say them that it is important to take care of our relatives and family members, especially the vulnerable, to make sure that we stay in a good health and get through this. This is a time to stop, look around and be compassionate to others. Maybe help a neighbour with shopping or do simple thing as I’ve done yesterday – phone someone you know who is sitting in the house alone and have a chat with that person bringing a little joy and a bit of smile to his/her face. We need to pay attention to people and to our environment.  Stop concentrating on money issues too much but try to see other simple things in our life. Remember, everyone is suffering in this difficult time, physically or mentally.  But it will pass. We just need to be patient, listen to the advices of our authorities and try to help each other to get through it. Everyone has dreams and something we believe in strongly can happen. It wont happen if we are acting disobedient or uncompassionate.

DG: Thank you for your fantastic interview Kasia and wish you and your family good health.

KJ: Thank you Dan, It’s been a pleasure for me to have this conversation. I wish you well and hope to see you soon. 

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