Photo report: Education coordinator at WDM wins trip to Poland

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Karla Rasmussen, Education and Public Programs Coordinator at the Western Development Museum Moose Jaw, won a free trip to Poland in May 2021 and took the opportunity to take spectacular photos and dive into history.

Karla Rasmussen, the Education and Public Programs Coordinator at the Western Development Museum Moose Jawwon a free trip to Poland in May 2021 and took the opportunity to take spectacular photos and dive into history.

“It was my third trip, my husband’s second,” Rasmussen said. The maternal side of the family is Polish and she enjoyed visiting the country and getting to know her relatives there. They had intended to return there in 2020, but world travel was slightly disrupted that year.

“In May 2021 there was a competition on the Facebook page of the Polish tourism organization,” she explained. “If you wrote an essay, you were signed up for a trip – two tickets from Toronto to Poland. So, I entered it and ended up winning it.

Tickets were due to be booked in 2021 and the trip was due to be completed by the end of 2022. Karla and her husband Chris spent two weeks from May 21 to June 4, 2022.

The family history goes that Rasmussen’s great-grandfather and his brother were smuggled out of Poland on a cotton barge.

“There were a lot of conflicts. Times were tough. And they said, you know, we have to do something better for our family,” she said. “So he and his brother came to Canada and ended up settling in Neepawa, Manitoba.”

The brothers would send money and gifts back to their family, but eventually the two parties lost contact. Around 2005, Rasmussen’s uncle, who still bears the original Polish surname, received a letter with photos and questions: “Do you know these people? Are we a family? – and a relationship was restored.

Poland and the War in Ukraine

Rasmussen said she was unsure about traveling after the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February, but her first cousin in Gdansk reassured her.

“They were very scared when things started, when Russia invaded. However, when they saw that Ukraine was resisting and was able to push back, confidence returned that Poland was going to remain a safe place,” he told said Radek, his cousin, “He said, you know, Poland is a member of the EU and NATO, it’s safe.

“It is a great pride for them at this time to be able to offer this help, because of what they went through during the Second World War,” Rasmussen continued. “To be the refuge… The Polish people have come together… to offer shelter to people fleeing this situation.”

Being a wartime tourist is not something everyone wants, Rasmussen noted. She and her husband kept in mind during their trip that history was happening around them.

It’s often strange to see life going on mostly as normal while terrible things are happening not far away. The couple saw refugee tents, demonstrations and rallies for Ukraine. There are signs, graffiti and protests everywhere – no one is unaware of the tension. Nevertheless, life goes on, people go to work and school, buy groceries and enjoy recreational activities.

“To be there, in that moment, while the story is still unfolding… It was good to go, for sure.”


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