Hail Maria

The Expat/Immigrant?: Born in Warsaw, moved to Paris

The Museum Night is on this Saturday, May 15. If the weather is kind, you can expect 热闹 {rè nao} in the city center. Interestingly, it’s the best night to avoid the museums. Not for the crowd for it will be packed everywhere. The Museum Night is a chance to check out institutions / organisations whose day job is not a museum. Places like the Institute of National Remembrance (if you’re curious about the quarters digging for the “truth is out there”) or the water filtration plant (the architecture is great but the guides can talk your ears off).

Having said that, I will be checking out the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum after seeing that new “multimedia” fountain. 2011 is the Year of Maria Skłodowska-Curie in Poland and France, the two countries where this super bright mind called home. So, there will be something special for Museum Night.

Known for her scientific mega-achievements, not much is said about her being a pioneering expat of sorts. Did she think herself as an expat when she settled in Paris in 1891 to pursue academic advancement? Or did she call herself an immigrant? There’s so much written these days about the cultural adjustments made by people who relocated to different countries, sometimes within the same continent. What would this great woman have to say on this topic? Get on with it already? Because that’s exactly what she did. What moved me deeply was when I saw the photo of her with her baby girl and older toddler (scroll down to see the trio), taken soon after her husband died. I knew she was widowed. But this photo brought home that she was a single mum to very young kids, living in a foreign country, and went on to bag a second Nobel Prize. Totally inspiring.

Here’s a short piece I wrote about this tenacious and determined character (and a few other brilliant Polish minds): Beautiful Minds (Warsaw Insider, May 2011).


About kitfchung

Experienced food and travel journalist based in Warsaw, Poland.
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