Meet Bart. Bartolomie Halibart, our tenth-grade Polish transfer student, has added lots of character to the grade. Bart, as most people call him, came from Krakow, Poland. He left Krakow, the “most beautiful city in Poland”, to arrive in New York City on June 26th, 2016. However, it’s not his first time here. Previously, Bart lived in New York City from 2002 to 2007, then moved back. He used to live on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. On this Bart remarked, “They call me Brooklyn Bart.” He is to be a man of many monikers: another form of his name is Bartolomiej, which combines his English name and Bartłomiej, his Polish name.
Currently, Bart resides in Ridgewood, Queens with his parents, his sister Katarzyna or Katherine, and his Yorkshire terrier Dexter. He described his commute to school in detail, with more knowledge about the subway map than many of his fellow classmates. New York was well missed by Bart: he proudly stated how great it was to be back. Bart had much to say for his second time in the city.
First day jitters. We all get them. But while most students take a bus or train to get to a new school, Bart flew a few thousand miles instead. Speaking about his first day, Bart exclaimed, “I was so scared, so stressed”–but not for long. By the end of the day, Bart felt incredibly well received, as if he had been “welcome aboard”. There were no signs of the “sad, Polish faces” that one sometimes sees and makes fun of in Poland, said Bart. Of course, he didn’t just move here for a new education. One of the reasons Bart’s family moved was due to the increasingly tense political climate in Poland, which Bart preferred not to talk about. However, he was able to describe many other aspects of his Polish upbringing.
Despite only being here for a few months, Bart has already become very comfortable in our small school’s environment. Currently, he’s in the Business Club, running club, and math club. While Bart is quite excellent at math and chemistry, as many students who have received his help can comment on, he’s still having trouble in the less technical areas of American education, such as, French class. On his first day, Bart walked into French and promptly told Mr. Rajiv “dzień dobry”, or ‘good morning’, in Polish. He then proceeded to state “I Polska”. Bart had been advised by his friend, Peter Oda ’19, another foreign transfer from Bulgaria, not to speak English in French class. While this might not have been what Peter meant, Bart certainly took Peter’s advice to heart. Another class that Bart finds difficult is art. Apparently, he has “two left hands” in that subject.
In Poland, the education system is very different. Polish students don’t get a lunch break. Instead, they have a fifteen minute second breakfast. In fact, students in Poland generally have around fifteen subjects by middle school, and quite a bit more work than students here. Additionally, there were no laptops, and those group discussions that we have so commonly in BSGE rarely occurred. Students generally sat at tables in pairs and mostly listened to the teacher speak. While some of us yearn for the way teachers in Poland don’t grade homework, you may be surprised to find that this often lead to cheating amongst students. By the time high school comes around, students are able to choose the subject they want to pursue further in life. They can choose from science, Polish linguistics, history, math and physics, or English. Apparently, people who choose careers in Polish linguistics, such as journalism, writing, or singing, don’t generally do very well in Poland. Bart would have probably chosen science, had he stayed. In that case, he would actually be in the eleventh grade now. Despite this, Bart loves American school, and generally finds it to be better than the Polish school system.
While Bart loves living in New York City, there’s always a few things to miss about home. Bart misses his grandparents and his favorite “lovely” aunt who, apparently, is the best chemistry teacher he has ever had. Sadly, Bart has lost contact with almost all of his friends in Poland. He has some contact with a good friend from theatre club, but no longer receives her handwritten letters. While Bart doesn’t interact with many of his Polish friends anymore, he has certainly become friendly with much of the BSGE community. In fact, while the interview for this article was being conducted, Bart got up and walked over to Mr. Wolov, who was in the room at the time, to introduce himself.
So far, Bart has described his experience in New York City and BSGE as wonderful. In his free time, he enjoys discovering new things, and momentarily obsessing over them. For two weeks, Bart was obsessed with puzzles. For another two weeks, he became obsessed with poker, and frequently searched up strategies to win the game. While Bart enjoys playing video games such as Overwatch, he also reads one book a month. Bart’s favorite books are the DaVinci Code and The Name of Rose, an 800 page book about history, crime, and theology.
Hopefully, Bart’s time in America only gets better from here on out. While Bart would like to improve in some areas such as French and English, he had nothing but good words for the Baccalaureate community. Na zdrowie Bartolomie!