By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Anna and Jason Franzen have given Delano a bit of Polish flair, with their own Polish-American newspaper, Kurier Polski.
“We have subscribers in a couple different states, but we publish this more for Minnesota,” said Anna, a native of Poland who resides in Delano.
Kurier Polski, which translates to “Polish Courier,” offers a wide assortment of articles about Polish history, culture, current events, immigration issues, and other topics of interest.
Although immigrants are the paper’s primary audience, it’s also a resource for anyone interested in learning about the Polish community.
“I’m trying to keep it half English, half Polish,” Anna said.
According to the Franzens, the demand for Polish-centered news is high.
“There are people who donate just to help us,” Anna said. “It’s voluntary work, but the influence we have tells us it’s worth doing, even though there’s no money in it.”
Kurier Polski’s mentor, Edward Dusza, noted that current Polish immigrants are well educated, with a strong sense of national identity.
“They know that without newspapers in Polish, or Polish religious Masses, family language will be lost, which will lead to Polish traditions and customs being lost, too,” Dusza stated in Polish, with a translation by Anna.
Dusza is a writer, novelist, literary critic, and journalist who came to the US in 1969, and now lives in Stevens Point, WI.
Other staff members include Joanna Bielobradek, a poet and writer of prose who is also a radio commentator for the Chicago Polish station “Wietrzne Radio;” and Wojtek Osmolski, a marketing director who lives in Burnsville.
Anna serves as the newspaper’s editor and graphic designer, and her husband, Jason, is the assistant editor and writer.
“It’s an enjoyable hobby,” said Jason, who also has a high school teaching license.
In addition to publishing the Kurier Polski every six weeks, Anna works at a translation/publishing company in St. Paul.*
The couple also has a 4-year-old son named Filip, and a baby due in August.
Creating a newspaper adds to the family’s busy schedules, but they consider it a worthwhile effort.
“The common denominator for all of us in our publication is zealous patriotism that inspires us to educate the public about our country’s contributions to the world and the United States as citizens, immigrants, and visitors,” Osmolski* noted. “We feel we need to defend its image against the unjust and often misleading opinions (whether deliberate or naively) of a considerable portion of the media, and generally attempt to mobilize Polonia and Poles to participate in its and America’s affairs.”
People often call Anna and Jason with story ideas, and writers will also submit articles.
“We have a lot of Polish contacts more than our size would suggest,” Jason said. “I like to think we’re giving a voice to the Polish community.”
Kurier Polski provides a way for Polish immigrants to stay connected to their native culture and traditions.
“That is why our newspaper is important,” Anna said. “This is the way we can communicate certain things. Everyone needs information, but they don’t always know how to find it.”
According to Jason, a sub-goal of the paper is to pique the interest of Americans of Polish descent.
“It’s bridging the gap between American culture and Polish culture,” said Jason, who has visited Poland numerous times.
Although Jason is only about 25 percent of Polish decent, his knowledge has made him a requested speaker for Polish groups in the US.
For the Franzens, Kurier Polski has been a rewarding way to serve the Polish community in Minnesota.
“Every one of us here has a role,” Anna said. “It doesn’t have to be anything big, but if we connect all these small things together, we can create a picture of something bigger.”
The Kurier Polski is available via subscription, as well as at select Delano businesses and in Russian stores throughout the Twin Cities.
For more information, or to share a story for the Kurier Polski, call (952) 457-1305 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This article has been updated to reflect information about Anna's job and a quote Anna e-mailed from Osmolski.