TŁUMACZENIA: BEYOND BEING
Translated by Ula Lukszo
When, in May of 2003, I was asked to write an introduction to the book Beyond Being, I knew only that it was the unusual story of Leokadia Tworkowska, a former pupil of the boarding school adjoining the convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Wałbrzych, Poland, where
I was headmistress from 1956-1972. Those were difficult times during which we, as a Catholic school with a specific and explicit approach to education, had to stand our ground in the face of the Communist regime’s methods and ideology. We had to meet many challenges in those times, and I think that not only the Sisters and the lay teachers, but also the students succeeded in this endeavor. They-the students- were always very dear to us and, as is the way with children, were always the source of our worries and of our joys, though the latter certainly outnumbered the former. A certain pattern of development could be observed in the girls during their time at the school: from the first period of uncertainty, throughthe stormy time of rebellion and dissent, until the moment in which they finally accepted the school’s approach to teaching
and education, as developed by the Blessed Mother Marcelina Darowska, the founder of our Order. This educational system, although by no means easy, was to become the foundation for the revival of family and Nation through the rebirth of woman.
I remember that Leokadia and I left Wałbrzych at nearly the same time: she, after finishing her high school diploma and I, after completing my term of duty as the director of theschool. Twenty-five years later I met up with her again in
New York. At that time I also met her husband Mark and her son Michael. As they showed me around the World Trade Center, I could not, of course, have had any idea that this was to become the scene of all but apocalyptic events on 6 September 11th 2001; nor could I have imagined that on thatvery day, Leokadia would find herself on the 82nd floor of th North Tower of the World Trade Center right before the terrorist attack on America. Yes, Leokadia! The very same Leokadia who I remembered as a child, standing in the school corridor looking somewhat lost… Sister Maria Grażyna Jordan(Sister of the Order of the Immaculate Conception)
From the author
Leokadia Glogowski still works for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. According to the management, they are soon to leave their temporary offices on Long Island and relocate back to Manhattan. Mark, just as before, parks his car every morning on 73rd Street, across from “All Sport & Classic”, the automotive service garage where he works. Michael finished his undergraduate degree in Architecture at the Pratt Institute in May of 2003 and has started his Master’s studies.
In June of 2002 Leokadia visited her old high school in Walbrzych for the 30th anniversary reunion. Since 1972 she had met up only sporadically with her high school classmates-people that she had gotten to know very closely during her school years. They had all followed vastly different paths over the course of those 30 years. Jola Slezak finished nursing school after graduation and currently lives in Krakow. Lidka “Longlegs” Szczycinska got her degree in Polish whereas Grazyna “Grazka” Barnat studied biology. They both live in Toronto. Ewa Czopp left for Sweden soon after graduating from high school. She finished nursing school there and works in a hospital in Malmo now. Jola Kopaczewska ended up studying Russian. She lives and works as a teacher in Jelenia Gora, Poland. Zosia “Mroz” Mrozinska lives in Wroclaw; she studied physics and currently writes standardized tests for the Okregowa Komisja Egzaminacyjna-the Regional Examination Board. Three of the girls ended up studying psychology: Teresa Janczak who now lives in Walbrzych as well as Jadzia “Cushy” Kusnierkiewicz and Jagienka “Heron” Czaplinska, both of whom live in Warsaw. Teresa “Propeller” Wiatrak and Bozenka Wlodarz did not go on to university. Instead Teresa lives in Kalna near Zywiec in southern Poland where she runs a leather-craft company. Bozenka lives and works in Opole, Poland. Lucia Maczek (“Macia Luczek”) lives in Jerzmanowa near Glogow, Poland, and Ania “Mosquito” Kwiek lives in Gorzow Wielkopolski in Poland. She received her degree in mathematics and works as a teacher. Ania Lobocka studied biology. She lives in Swiebodzice, Poland, and works for the Walbrzych Health Department “Sanepid.”
And finally, Basia Ptaszynska. She graduated from a Physical Education Academy in Poland and now works somewhere in Canada. She was the only one who had not been in contact with any of the others during those thirty years and consequently, did not know about the reunion in Walbrzych.
During the two-day celebration, the former students of the Walbrzych school were able to meet with their former teachers and friends. Sister Bohdana Gorska, the founder of “Unity,” had been working for the past couple of years in Szymanow where she was prioress. In the summer of 2003 she returned to Walbrzych. Sister Gizela Gawlewicz and Sister Ewa Domaszewska, the two dorm directors of the Walbrzych school when Leokadia was there, were now at the Immaculate Sisters’ Convent in Nowy Sacz. Sister Zita Galuszka, Leokadia’ homeroom teacher, now teaches at the Immaculate Sister’s Middle and Elementary School in Jaroslaw. The former headmistress of the school, Sister Grazyna Jordan, is currently at the Immaculate Sister’s Home in Wrzosow on the outskirts of Warsaw.
During her time in Walbrzych, Leokadia also met up with her favorite math teacher, Danuta Rautszko-my mother.
In January of 2002, my wife Krystyna, who works in a bookstore in Szczecinek, was approached by Ms. Genowefa Magnowska, a faithful reader of Catholic literature and media. She brought with her a copy of a Catholic weekly called “Niedziela” (“Sunday”) with an article by Krystyna Smerd called “Ona Tam Byla” (“She Was There”). It was an article about Leokadia and her story of survival on September 11th. When she spoke about this event—the most important one in her life—she also mentioned the Order of the Immaculate Conception High School in Walbrzych as well as her physics teacher, Sister Paula, and her math teacher, Danuta Rautszko. Soon afterwards I took this article with me to Walbrzych to give to my mother. She gave me in return some of the letters Leokadia had written her at the beginning of the 1990’s. My first attempt at getting in contact with Leokadia was unsuccessful, as Leokadia had moved to a new address. However, halfway through June after the reunion in Walbrzych, I received Leokadia’s email address from my mother.
June 23, 2002 I wrote her my first letter, and from that time we began a steady correspondence between New York and Szczecinek that resulted in the book you see before you now...
Knowing the extraordinary fate of Leokadia Glogowski and her little sailor’s collar that made its way along with her from Walbrzych to the World Trade Center, we cannot help but feel that our lives are one continuous strand of the choices we make each day. All we have to do in order to make the right choices is to remember that Noah’s Ark always has room for one more...
Szczecinek, July 25, 2003
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