Broadcasting Polish Pride: FOX Chicago’s Jenny Milkowski Shares Her Polish Story

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There’s not many morning TV shows in America where you can get your traffic report and learn the proper pronunciation of the Polish word pączki. That’s because there’s not many on-air Polish traffic reporters like  Jenny Milkowski.

Jenny brings a uniquely Polish personality to the weekday morning show at FOX-TV Chicago, “Good Day Chicago.” Aside from sprinkling informational tidbits about Poland in between her traffic reports, she serves as an on-air Polish guru. That’s right. Whenever anyone at the station is covering anything involving Polish culture, you can probably bet that Jenny will be involved. Her Polish pride shines through the TV camera lens, making her among the most passionate and visible proponents of Polish culture in the Chicago metropolitan area.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jenny to discover more about her Polish background. Here’s the full interview:

What is your connection to Poland?

“I was born in Chicago, but my parents where born in Poland. My mom came to Chicago in the seventies when she was 20­ years ­old. She had just finished nursing school in Poland and came for a touring visit. Her mom, my grandma, was already in the states and convinced her to stay. My mom eventually met my dad while shopping at his father’s store, and they started dating shortly after and got married. Both of my parents are from the Tarnow area. My mom is from Miechowice, and my dad is from Wietrzychowice. My dad came here on a boat with his mom and some of his brothers when he was just seven years old!”

Jenny Milkowski

Did you grow up more Polish or American?

“I was born on the northwest side of Chicago, which is a heavily Polish neighborhood. My younger sister and I grew up in a very Polish household and didn’t speak English until we went to school, and even in preschool I didn’t know English that well.

When you’re a kid, you learn languages quickly, but I was very shy…so that didn’t help! So because I was shy and didn’t know how to ask my teacher if I could go to the bathroom, I would pee myself! Almost every day my mom had to bring me a new pair of pants to change into, but by first grade I was fluent in English so it wasn’t a problem anymore. In addition to going to “regular” school Monday through ­Friday, we also went to Polish school on Saturday mornings!”

How can people tell you are Polish?

“Being Polish has always been a huge part of who I am! Not only did I grow up with parents who came straight from Poland, but I knew the language. People can tell I’m Polish because I’m always sure to tell them, haha! I am proud of where I came from and my culture. Growing up and living in Chicago and being Polish is great because there is such a huge Polish community that makes you feel welcome!”

“I LOVE talking about the Polish culture and my Polish upbringing on TV! I think sometimes anchors on television can be a little stiff and don’t show the audience where they truly come from. I believe that I should be myself–which is Polish and quirky! I want all the Polish men and women and children who watch at home to say ‘wow, that’s really cool! She’s like me, and she’s on TV, and she is proud of who she is!’ My coworkers enjoy my stories, and they love to learn about how it was growing up Polish.”

Bristol Deli
Jenny’s family owns a Polish store in Chicago–Bristol Deli.

Ok, most important question: What is your favorite Polish food?

“That’s a tough question! There is SO much good food! and get this, my family owns a Polish store! It’s called Bristol Deli on 5205 West Belmont in Chicago. We have an amazing chef that cooks delicious Polish salads and dinners! We call it Meals By Babcia! We also have tons of wonderful Polish candies and desserts. I think my favorite has to be pasztet, kielbasa and zurek!”

What’s the best part about your job in television?

“My favorite part of my job is being able to connect with Chicagoans and Polish Chicagoans and Polish people from all over the world! I am on Facebook almost all the time. Please see my videos and talk to me at Jenny Milkowski TV!”

Jenny is extremely approachable and loves interacting with her fans on social media. Click here to like her on Facebook or visit her website at jennymilkowski.com to learn more about her.

Here’s some more videos/photos from Jenny:

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The Latest Innovations From Poland

teknologiaPoles are very smart people, but their ingenuity has long been overlooked due to a lack of awareness and investment from the outside world. For this reason, it’s important to highlight and appreciate Polish innovation and genius whenever possible to foster the talent that can make Poland a major player in Europe and the world.

Now, in 2016, the same country that helped develop X-rays and the understanding of heliocentricity is at it again. Check out these three innovative Polish ideas.

Liquid Body Armor

Scientists at the Polish company Moratex have developed a liquid called Shear-Thickening Fluid, or STF that hardens upon impact, stopping bullets flying at 450 meters per second (1,476 ft/sec.) or higher.

Unlike traditional bullet-proof vests, which can still deflect the bullet’s force into the body, resulting in injury or death, STF reduces this deflection from 4 centimeters to 1 centimeter. As a result, it’s much safer.  The liquid’s composition is guarded by the company, but it is known as a “Non-Newtonian” liquid, which hardens instead of dissipating when met with force.

Other possible STF applications besides body armor include sports uniforms and car bumpers.

Check out a full report and video on this new, Polish liquid body armor here.

Bar-tending Robot

What started as a robot that can flawlessly pour vodka into a shot glass, can be adapted into numerous applications. Students at AGH University in Kraków designed the robot to not only pour precise amounts of alcohol into glasses, but also to mimic a human’s movements.

At first glance, this might look like just another way for college students to get wasted without having to do the pouring, but the principles behind this bar-tending robot can be applied to other sectors. In hospitals, nurses could use the technology to pour exact doses of medicine for patients. Similarly chemical laboratories can use it to measure and pour substances. Right now,this project is still in its infancy, but proper funding could vastly expand its horizons.

Check out a video of this bar-tending robot here.

Messenger App for the Deaf

Perhaps more impressive than the world’s first messenger application for deaf people, is the fact that its inventor is an eighteen-year-old. Polish entrepreneur Mateusz Mach initially developed the free app, called Five, as a fun way to send hand signs and rap symbols to other people.

He soon realized though, that it could be applied to deaf people, who often have a difficult time typing with letters. Now, the app allows them to text others using American Sign Language. So far, Mach has single-handedly raised roughly $150,000 in funding from venture capitalists, which speaks to his exceptional ingenuity and business savviness. It will be interesting to see how Mach continues to develop the technology and expand its applications moving forward.

To download this free app, click here.

These are just some of the innovations being undertaken by Poles today. I hope to regularly feature more because they, more than anything else, foster the promise of a bright and successful future for Poland.

Poland’s World-Class Tech Industry Continues to Grow

PolishITWhen many people think of Poland, such images as pierogi, kiełbasa, and their babcia’s famous crepes come to mind. In recent years, though, Poland has become known around the world for more than its culinary contributions. The eastern European country is quickly becoming a global leader in the development and application of information technology (IT).

Poland’s IT sector has grown at an impressive rate in the past few decades. As of 2013, the total market value of the IT sector in Poland grew by four percent, reaching 21.2 billion PLN and accounting for roughly 1.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. International growth has been even more impressive. Between 1996 and 2008, Polish IT exports grew by 28 percent each year. In 2013, total IT export value reached 9 billion PLN. Overall, Poland’s IT market is among the largest in Central and Eastern Europe and is expected to grow even more.

A highly educated workforce has principally been driving the expansion of the Polish IT market. About 15 thousand Polish IT students graduate each year from prestigious schools, like AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, knowing they are entering a steady, well-paying profession (average IT salaries are 57 percent higher than the national average). These young professionals are fluent in new technologies, multilingual and flexible, allowing them to compete and win on the global stage. In fact, they  consistently outperform other nations at international competitions, such as Google Code Jam or Top Coder. In June of 2015, Aleksandra Zemke became the first Pole to win a Global Summit Youth Award for developing an interactive simulation game. A team from Poland also recently won the U.S.-hosted Mars Rover competition.

The exemplary Polish talent and investment in IT research has resulted in many contributions to the field. Recently, two Polish innovators, Grzegorz Piątek and Bartłomiej Wielogórski, were recognized for inventing a robot that serves as a rehabilitative walking coach for children with cerebral palsy. In the realm of computer technology, the TOP500 project ranked a Polish supercomputer, called the Prometheus Machine, the 49th most powerful computer in the world. One of the most spectacular areas of growth is the Polish video game industry, which was worth an estimated $279.6 million in 2014. In 2011, the Polish-made video game Witcher 2,  by CD Projekt Red, sold  940,000 copies and won numerous awards. Then-Polish prime minister Donald Tusk even presented President Barack Obama a copy of Witcher 2 during a 2011 meeting.

In 2011, the Polish-made video game Witcher 2,  by CD Projekt Red, sold  940,000 copies and won numerous awards.

Poland is clearly becoming a leader in technological research and innovation. However, it has been challenging to keep this talent within Polish borders. According to Mirosław Janik, President of the Polish and Russian branches of the Wincor Nixdorf company, Poland lacks the culture of commercialization that exists in other countries like the United States. Although Poland is strong in research and development, it lacks the corporate interest that could monetize these technologies. As a result, many Polish IT professionals end up contracting for foreign companies, or leaving Poland altogether to seek work elsewhere. Experts agree that government and private investment in the IT industry will be crucial to retaining talent in Poland.

These challenges notwithstanding, Poland’s expanding IT sector is reinventing the country’s image across the globe. Long associated with the backwardness of the Eastern Bloc, Poland is now attracting global attention and national prestige as its technical economy moves fully into the 21st century.