Polish Community Living Research in Brazil
KRISSY JUERGENSMEYER (MA ’18)
With the Global Studies summer award, I paid for my ticket to Brazil, where I conducted research on the Polish community living in the southern part of the country. I stayed for 2 weeks, mostly in the city of Curitiba, the capital city of the southern state of Parana. I conducted 9 full formal interviews and 3 more informal and partial interviews. During my field work I gained several invaluable contacts, including the Polish Consul, prominent organizers of the Polish-Brazilian community, and several university professors. All in all, my trip was a huge success and has not only set me up for a successful master’s thesis, but also allowed me to create contacts with individuals who will be essential for my further academic career.
My participants for the interviews ranged from more recent immigrants to 2ndand 3rd generation descendants of immigrants. Almost all of my interviews were conducted in Polish, and all were recorded in the original language with a hand recorder in a location location. I asked each participant about their family history, how and why they spoke Polish (if they did), and their opinions on the future of the Polish language and life within the Polish-Brazilian community. The interviews provided a great insight into the actions and motivations of individuals living within the Polish-Brazilian community.
For one day of my time in Curitiba, I visited an archive in a local Catholic church. The church was started by Polish settlers and has hosted a constant yet diminishing line of Polish priests. The individual I met with was a “second” generation immigrant, and the last remaining native Polish speaker in the church/seminary. I was also invited to have lunch/dinner with various Polish families. This gave me some hands-on experience with some of the contemporary Polish traditions that in the community. I interviewed a couple of professors from two different universities. I was also invited to speak on a panel at one of the universities I visited for interviews where I discussed the importance of language maintenance work and its place in quantitative research, as well as my own research in Brazil.
I used my trip to Brazil not only to complete my interviews for my current master’s thesis, but also to establish some lasting relationships with universities, families, and individuals who I can work with in later research. My visits with the professors from the two state universities have already proved very useful in my research and have presented me with opportunities to publish and distribute my current thesis research. I am also looking forward to returning to the Unicentro University’s conference next summer to give a more in-depth presentation on my findings from my master’s thesis. My time in Brazil provided me with an abundance of information with which to write my master’s thesis and any related articles or papers. I am excited to further analyze my interviews and observations from Brazil and am already planning my next academic project in the region.