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LZ family’s joruney to U.S. citizenship

Megan Monoson, Magazine editor-in-Chief

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Maja Keska, sophomore, enjoys baking healthy meals, ilke the oatmeal cookies she currents makes above, with her family often. Although the Keska family has been living in the U.S. since 2006, the family continues to enjoy mainlyPolish cuisine in their household.

Visiting family in the United States was planned, moving was a desire, but, after seeing all of the opportunities, staying was a must.

At five and a half years old, Maja Keska, sophomore, moved to the U.S. from Poland and eventually gained her citizenship last year along with her mother Ania Keska and younger brother Max Keska.

The move and eventual citizenship were both Ania’s, decisions, but it was difficult for her to start a new life in an unknown country while also having two young children.

“Seeing my mom struggle was pretty hard,” Maja said. “My mom had to raise [my brother while struggling] financially. We came [to the U.S.] together, but he was one and a half when we came, and we didn’t have much support from our family. [My mom] had to do it all by herself, and I’m very proud of her for that.”

Along with financial hardship, Ania struggled with applying for citizenship over the past two years — especially because she did not know English when she first moved here.

“You don’t have to learn English because [there’s] a polish doctor, polish store, polish bakery, polish church, [and] polish food,” Ania said. “Everything [else you want] you can find, so it’s very hard when you just work with polish people [to] learn how to speak English.”

The difficulties Ania experienced with understanding the English language made the citizenship exam challenging, however, Maja helped her mother prepare before the exam.

“It was last Spring Break, and she got a letter from the government saying that she had to prepare for the test, and then they would send another letter when they were ready for her to come and take the test. She got the letter right before we went on vacation, and we went to Florida. [Throughout] the whole vacation we were preparing since we didn’t know when the letter was coming,” Maja said. “I was on the beach and we were asking her questions. When we came back, we helped her study at night. Just before we went to sleep, [my brother and I would ask her] different questions.”

A few weeks after returning from their trip, Ania went to take the test and passed on the first try. Although it took time for the Keskas to finally be granted citizenship, they received it in April 2017, and the family has since felt more at home in the U.S..

“We have a good life here,” Maja said. “We have a lot of opportunities and it’s just really nice. I don’t think anything would be the same, [not] anything, if we stayed in Poland.”

Since the move, the Keskas have not revisited Poland, but Maja has plans to travel the world, including Poland, now that they have the opportunity to travel outside of the country.

“I think, now, since we have our citizenship, we can get our passport, so we’re going to travel a lot,” Maja said. “That was a dream of mine, and that was holding me back for a while since I couldn’t travel.”

Although the process was difficult, the whole family agrees that receiving their citizenship was worth it, and, according to Ania, she now feels more secure here with “a better life for us.”

“We are very glad we are here. We have a lot of very nice, very friendly American friends, and they are like our family now,” Ania said. “We can travel everywhere, I can make ID and driving license, and my kids can go to college here. It’s better for kids to take [classes here because it is a] better education, it’s easier to find a job, and it’s [an] easier life here.”

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