Monday, November 20, 2006

Regional Polish Diaspora

Since joining the European Union, Poles are aggressively exploring their newfound labor mobility. Meanwhile, Poland struggles to find workers and now looks to the East to replace the recently departed. Perhaps Poles will return home some day, but right now the Polish Diaspora is emerging as a political and economic force across Europe:

A Polish nurse is running for Parliament in Iceland. A British labor union is establishing a special section for Polish immigrants. The Catholic Church in Ireland is going through a revival as Poles flock to Sunday services.

New Polish-language newspapers are flourishing in Britain and Belgium, France and Sweden, Ireland and Germany, catering to Polish craftsmen, engineers, teachers, nurses, plumbers, architects, maids and drivers. These newspapers are the lifeblood for newcomers seeking to find cheap housing, ferret out Polish food shops and meet teachers to learn their new language.

This is the “second” Poland, a diaspora of 800,000 Poles estimated by officials here to have left the country since it joined the European Union in May 2004. The exodus is believed to be one of the largest migrations by Europeans since the 1950s, when a wave of Irish crossed the Atlantic to escape poverty.

I hope to help the Burgh Diaspora build a similar network, the "lifeblood" of Pittsburgh's substantial Mobile Class. The Pittsburgh migration is somewhere between the more mature "Return to Ireland" movement and the relatively new mass exodus of Poles from Eastern Europe.

That Pittsburgh expatriates have not connected and organized as Poles have done is an opportunity squandered.

No comments: