Interview with Michał Mucha

Ukrainians are no strangers to us

, by Leon Schwalbe

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

Ukrainians are no strangers to us
Michał Mucha from Zagorzyce, Poland. Foto: Leon Schwalbe / Katharina Egle

Michał Mucha is a village child. The 17-year-old lives in Zagorzyce, a few kilometers away from Ropczyce. When he is not at school, he plays football in the soccer club of the only other city in the region Sędziszów Małopolski. After finishing school, he wants to study economics or mathematics at university.

Leon Schwalbe: Michał, how long have you already lived in Zagorzyce?

Michal Mucha: I’ve been living here since I was two years old. Before that, my parents lived with me and my sister in Rzezszów. But I’m spending most of my time in Sędziszów. There are most of my friends, the soccer club, …

Do you like to live in this region of Poland?

I really like this region, but there is nothing to do after school and at the weekends. No parties, no amusement things – you always have to go to bigger cities for that.

But are you planning to stay here, or is this not an option for you?

After graduating from university, I’d like to live here, work here, have a family here. But first I want to go to Krakow or Wrocław for studying.

These are very beautiful Polish cities – do you like being Polish, and what does it mean to you?

I think, we are a very hard-working country. And we have our own mentality. You have to live here to know it. But we are also a very divided country in questions of politics.

Why?

Well, if you’d ask me which party I like the most, I would probably answer with: None. The Polish parties are not good. Especially PiS. But there are still people that like their politics.

What do you not like about them?

PiS is an old people’s party, so they make politics for older people only. That’s why most of young persons don’t like them.

Could there be change in the elections then when young people can vote?

Absolutely! I think it is already changing right now. Left-wing parties are getting more popular on the one side, and more liberal right-wing parties, such as Konfederacja, on the other side, too. They could be the biggest Polish parties in some years – and hopefully not PiS anymore.

Does the anti-European course of PiS could be one reason for the unpopularity of this party in the younger generation?

Yes, maybe. Most young people, myself included, think it is a very useful organization. It can be annoying, sometimes, because of all the regulations. But if I would have to decide between “EU yes or no?”, I would definitely say yes.

Right now, lots of European states are looking to Poland because of the millions of Ukrainian refugees you take in. What do you think about the war in Ukraine?

The first days, I was very scared and frightened. But then it disappeared. I don’t think the war could affect Poland directly.

Did something change since the war started?

I can see more Ukrainian people here. The last time I was in Rzezszów, I heard so many people speaking Ukrainian around me – on the streets, in the shops, at the mall, almost everywhere. Even in the building of my football club are refugees right now.

Are you happy about that?

To be honest: I don’t know. I’m scared that when I will search for a job sometime – maybe in six or seven years –, there could be so many other people that want it, too. So, I couldn’t get it. But with those lots of young people, they could also make Poland younger. That would be good for the future of our country. And they are not that new here. We always had some Ukrainian people at school, at university, and at work. Now it’s just some more of them.

Could that be a reason for the great solidarity right now for the Ukrainian people in Poland?

Yes, I think so. We already know them. They are no strangers to us.

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