Choose Your Own #CareerAdventures: with Jessica Pawelski

Welcome back to Choose Your Own #CareerAdventures! We’re excited to have interviewed Jessy Pawelski who co-founded a not-for-profit in Krakow, Poland to support multicultural families in Krakow by building community through embracing diversity.

Working together with her co-founder her goal is to create a space that integrates immigrant and expat families with Polish families to share language and culture, all while having fun. While she takes her adventures from USA to Poland, Jessy has found herself doing wonderful work towards creating an environment which celebrates diversity and promotes tolerance, enhancing the mindfulness of our next generation.

Read on to find out more! Thank you again, Jessy, for sharing your adventures here!

Tell us about yourself

Hi! My name is Jessy and I am from Oklahoma City. Last year my husband and I decided to leave our corporate jobs and relocate to Krakow Poland with our 2-year-old daughter Margo.

In the process of trying to integrate in our new home and find my ‘Mom Tribe’, I discovered a lack of community.

The expat groups were limited and felt a little too elite for me and my situation and I wasn’t proficient enough in Polish to join the local groups.

I met a Polish mother also looking for diversity and together we started a parent’s club that turned into One World – One Heart Multicultural Family Foundation.

We are a team of mothers who organize regular support groups for Moms with babies and toddlers, yoga classes, art workshops and family events and now we have partnered with other local foundations to help support immigrants, expats and locals on a wider scale.

What are you working on now?

On top of trying to learn Polish (key word trying), I am learning the ropes of running a non-profit organisation. My team and I are consistently working on new projects to serve the city and discovering how we can help other women and mothers find themselves in Polish reality. 

We offered workshops and classes to integrate parents and children who came here from abroad or were wanting to practice and improve their English. The company was a necessary step in learning the ropes of how to run and organise these groups while building a community but we never wanted to charge people and had our eye on non-profit from the beginning. After 1 year we closed the company and transitioned it into a foundation instead and maintained some activities through government funding and writing projects. 

I am learning the ropes of NGOs and project writing while still trying to find my footing in Polish reality. I’m also (finally) taking the time to focus on my art again and doing some online courses for graphic design and illustration. We’ll see where that goes and how I can marry it into what I’m currently doing!

What past projects spark joy for you when you look back at what you have worked on?

In June we organized a multicultural family picnic with children’s activities supported in English, Polish, and Ukrainian.

It was so nice to finally feel a sense of community and inclusion and meet families who were local and from around the globe.

I think it’s very important to include locals in these events. We have an endless amount of knowledge and history to learn from them and by sharing and respecting each other’s cultures we are growing and impacting future generations. 

How do you choose what to work on?

At first I focused on what I needed: Integration for myself and my daughter. I found that there were others who had the same needs and who also wanted to help strengthen the community. From meeting with the community I can find out what area needs the most support and create a project to assist them. Whether we need language classes, career workshops, or to just have a cup of coffee in the support of other moms while our kids play, our team is ready to help.

You could say that you are on a “career adventure” instead of a career path. How did you find yourself find yourself in a place to choose your own adventure?

For the past 13 years I have been in some form of business management, from clothing retail to a medical supply company. After moving to Poland I found myself as a stay-at-home mother for the first time and didn’t know what to do with myself.

I decided the corporate world no longer spoke to my needs and I wanted a more creative and meaningful job. I didn’t have any intentions of starting a company or organization, but quickly found myself helping others through helping myself.

Over the recent months I have really reflected on my role in our foundation because not speaking fluent Polish has been a bigger obstacle than I anticipated. Also, Krakow might not be my long-term future so I am taking time now to focus on learning a new skill and exploring new passions.

Because my situation is constantly changing, I’m taking each day as it comes. It has definitely been an adventure! 🙂

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career adventure similar to your own? 

Network and volunteer to get to know your community. You will meet so many amazing people, each with their own unique story or obstacle and find that you can contribute in some way.

Could you describe your day-to-day at “the office”?

Each day is so different! If I am not at our community center organizing a class, I am meeting with my team to write projects or volunteering at different events around the city.

Where do you feel you work best and thrive the most?

The setting doesn’t matter as much as working on a team. I thrive by helping others.

I am inspired through collaboration and exploring different ideas and perspectives. 

What inspires and drives you every day?

My daughter Margo!

Motherhood forced me to see the best and the worst of myself and I can either set an example for my daughter or pass along a cycle.

I am inspired by my daughter and other children and strive to help future generations create a world with less hate and more love and understanding.

What advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know now?

Be less of who you are told to be and more of who you want to be.  

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about any of our career adventure stories. Come back soon to read more career adventures! Contact us here if you’d like to be featured here to share your own career adventures story or if you would like to write a guest blog for Project Anywhere.

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