about the project
oral history archive
collections
contact
about emigration museum in gdynia
search
A A contrast version
+add your story
Roman Płoszaj

Roman Płoszaj, photography by Błażej Sendzielski
 

Roman Płoszaj was born in the Podkarpacie region of Poland. He was raised and educated in Leżajsk. His had a successful career in forestry. The growing financial pressures linked to the expenses of building his own home in Poland led to his decision to go to the US. Roman emigrated on December 6, 1986. He left his family in Poland - wife, daughter and mother, because the stay in the US was supposed to have been of short duration, only until he earned enough money to cover the expenses of home construction.

When he arrived in New York, he moved into a place in India Street, Greenpoint. He shared a 3-bedroom flat, a so-called sabłej[Polish-American slang, transl. note], with seven other workers. His first job was at a carwash, where he worked in excess of 12 hours daily. His next job was at a joinery. He supplemented his income with jobs in home renovations.

He also worked at a waste sorting plant, where he was involved in an accident and almost lost his hand. The company wasn’t operating legally, so Roman had to fight a very long legal battle to be granted compensation. He was assisted by his wife and daughter who arrived in the US. Eventually, the court battle resulted in Roman being granted a life-long disability pension.

Following his accident Roman worked as a New York tour guide, taking groups of Polish tourists on tours around the city. He also toured the United States during a two-month trip around the country.

In Roman’s recollections of the past, towards the end of the 80’s there were streets in Greenpoint where the majority of residents were Polish immigrants, and Polish was the only language spoken in public. The immigrants kept all their earnings at the Credit Union. Roman moved out of Greenpoint due to the rising rental costs.


Interview conducted by Karolina Łukasiewicz and Ewa Dżurak on 20 October 2015 in New York City as part of the project called “Greenpoint. Transformations 2015”. More on cultureshock.pl.

interview excerpts
: / :
Invitation to USA
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Bad first impression
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Greenpoint in the 80s.
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Święta na emigracji
: / :
"This is not the place for you"
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Changing neighborhood
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Travelling the US
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Emigration as a final decision
>>> Read the transcription
gallery