Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Speaking the language

April 12, 2007

When Paul Major came to the United States at age 17 as an exchange student from Warsaw, Poland, he had some big adjustments to make.

Major, who finished his senior year of high school in Seattle, found himself in an unfamiliar country where he struggled at first learning the language.

Paul Major

Paul Major

"I thought my English was better than it was," Major said. "I always did well in it at school before I came, but when I got here, I didn't understand anything my teachers said. Everyone talked so fast and pushed words together. I was always asking people to repeat themselves.

"Poland is pretty much 100 percent white and 98 percent Catholic. The school I went to was in downtown Seattle and was mostly black or Vietnamese," Major explained, noting how different it was being in the minority for once.

"In the U.S., there's so much diversity and so many religions. In Poland I knew nothing but Polish-Catholic."

Major was quick to adjust, though.

Today he speaks the English language well; he's happily married; and he and his wife, Ashlee, just opened a business of their own in Lansing.

The business, Major Tan, opened Saturday in the Carriage Hills Plaza.

"We knew Lansing didn't have a tanning salon. My wife used to work at a salon, and we thought it would be a good idea. We first thought about a restaurant, but there's so many

around," Major said. "Since it's growing so fast, we thought it'd be a good location, and we wanted to be in Lansing."

Major first came to Leavenworth County after graduating from Emporia State University in 2004 because his sister lived in the area. He worked as a car salesman before deciding to open his own business.

While Major said he still traveled to see his family in Poland every other year or so, he's content living in America.

"Life here (in the United States) is easier," Major said. "It's easier to earn a decent living and to get a job. There's a lot less crime, too."

NAME: Paul Major

ADDRESS: 1507 Osage, Leavenworth

OCCUPATION: Salon owner

FAMILY: Ashlee, wife; one child on the way in July

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? "About two years. I had family my sister lived in Leavenworth. I moved over here, and met my future wife. That kind of kept me here."

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LANSING? "I like that it's a mostly new city. Leavenworth is super old ... the construction can be bad, but in Lansing, there's always something new coming up."

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN? "I'm a big sports fan, so watching a lot of sports. I like to golf, too."

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOU? "People are surprised that my English is so good after being here for just seven years."

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED? "My parents always said, "Nothing in life is free." If you work hard for something, you'll appreciate it more. It's better if you work for something yourself than if it's given to you free."


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