Exploring World Cultures in Chicago: Take a Trip to Poland

Written by: Marcie Wolbeck

Cultural Care Au Pair is teaming up with NPN to take you and your family on international adventures without leaving the city limits! We encourage Chicago-area families to take advantage of the many diverse neighborhoods and cultures right here in our hometown.  In this post, we invite you to travel to Poland with us (or at least head to West Town), to get a taste of Polish culture!

Start out at the Polish Museum of America (984 N. Milwaukee Avenue), one of the oldest ethnic museums in the Unites States. View Polish folk art, textiles, leather and needlework, plus authentic folk dress. Check out the Polish Pavilion from the 1939 New York World’s Fair and marvel at paintings and sculptures from Polish and Polish American artists as far back at the 1700s.

You can also learn about Wycinanki, which is traditional Polish paper cutting. Visit the Paderewski Room dedicated to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a Polish pianist, composer and statesman. See his piano and personal belongings. You can even view an exhibit about Stations of the Cross from Panna Maria, Texas, the first permanent Polish settlement in the United States, established in 1854.

Next, hop in the car to experience some of the best Polish cuisine. Staropolska Restaurant in Logan Square is just a 15-minute drive to from the Polish Museum of America. Try potato pancakes, dumplings or Wien

er Schnitzel – just a few of the many traditional Polish dishes available. If you’re near the Loop, swing by Pierogi Heaven. These thinly wrapped dough pockets have a variety of flavors, from meat and spinach to a fruit mix. Try a bowl of borscht too!

You can even expose your children to Polish culture at home. Have a fun, family polka party – a popular dance in Poland! The kids will love this different type of dance music. Here’s how to get started.

1.    Pick out some traditional music. Check out

artists like Jimmy Sturr and Walter Ostanek. Look for a polka station on Internet radio sites.

2.    Partner up and assume a ballroom position. The lead will follow three basic steps and repeat, the follower will do the same, but start with the right foot going back ward.

3.    For the leader:

·      Step forward with your left foot

·      Meet your left foot with your right

·      Go forward with the left foot again

·      Step forward with the right foot (passing the left foot)

·      Meet your right foot with your left

·      Step forward with your right foot again.

4.    For the follower:

·      Step back with your right foot

·      Meet your right foot with your left

·      Go back with your left foot

·      Step back with your left foot (passing the right foot)

·      Meet your left foot with your right

·      Step back with your left foot again. 

5.    Now match these steps up with the music. Remember there are three steps for every two beats. Now you’re ready to get dancing and having some fun! Source

Got any other fun cultural excursions you'd like to share? Comment below!

Posted on September 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM