Weather-wise, it was a typical day for England. A little foggy and drizzly. I arrived with two bulky suitcases that did not actually contain too much. Some clothes, some shoes, some documents and notes. Most of the space in one of the suitcases was occupied by a massive and very heavy Oxford English Dictionary – a symbol of my dedication to mastering the English language and a continuous and nagging reminder of how much I still need to learn. At the time, this dictionary was the only materialistic possession that really mattered to me and regardless of its weight I had to drag it along with me.
I was never a very practical type. More of a dreamer, adventure-seeker, hungry to see what’s beyond the horizon of my little but picturesque village in Poland, hungry for knowledge and new experiences, always thirsty for doing things by my own, finding out the truths for myself. I wanted to experience life elsewhere with my own skin, touch it with my own hands, enjoy it with my own soul. Just to live and pursue the dream of learning and finding out. Speaking English was not just a symbol of freedom and adventure. It was a swipe card that opened more than one world and enabled me to explore more than one reality. Amazing things happened ever since I put my foot beyond our Polish boarder. I looked after two Nigerian children while working as an Au-pair, wore a pink Thai dress while a waitress at a Thai restaurant, poured Fosters while bar-tending with Australians, celebrated the year of the Dragon with my Chinese students, devoured pieces of Black British writing at university, dipped bread in a fragrant curry while sitting on the floor with my Afghan friends, I sang nursery rhymes in Greek to my son’s best friend and celebrated my son’s baptism with our dearest friends of other beliefs.
But why am I writing this? I’ve been listening to the news and looking at the headlines and I’m getting concerned… it is alarming to see that attitudes against diversity are being promoted and are spreading around the world. For what reason?
The globe has been wounded and scared many times by attitudes similar to those. The trees of our genealogy are witnesses to those events. Many people went through great efforts and reconciliation processes because they wanted to learn to love again. And they did. And they love. And they cherish. And they care. Most of us individually have not experienced severe hatred, we haven’t been exposed to maltreatment at the hands of others – so my questions are: Why are so many hearts around the world closing? Are padlocks in fashion or something?