One of the struggles many immigrant mothers, like myself, have with their American born children is teaching them to be proud of who they are. I was raised that this pride has to include where your family comes from or else you are only proud of where you are and not of where you have been and that this pride also is a sign of respect for your family and all they did to give you the life you are now living.
One of the easiest ways to teach that pride is to point out other people, even public figures, who share that same heritage.
So, I have been wanting to start this as a series. "People Who I Am Claiming As Polish".
The first person is one my wrestling loving husband pointed out to me. Rob Van Dam.
Rob Van Dam is probably one of my husband's all time favorite wrestlers. He's cool, cocky, very funny, extremely good at what he does, and is easy to relate to.
When I have ever seen him on television, there has been no denial in my mind that man is Polish. He has the same eye shape as 1/2 of my family has and he's good looking. Must be Polish.
To further establish my suspicions of his Polish heritage, his real name is Robert Alexander Szatowski. I do not know the reason for him using the name "Rob Van Dam" for his stage name but it could be a combination of Americans thinking that Dutch/German names are somehow better ion some strange way than Polish names (which I personally disagree with), German culture is stronger in the linguistic history of the English language and therefor easier to be remembered, and perhaps it's possible that Mr. Szatowski has some Dutch or German ancestry as well or his family could be from the German area of Poland or something. It doesn't matter, either way, his real last name is Szatowski. Which is Polish.
Also, Rob Van Dam plays in the movie Wrong Side of Town where he plays "Bobby Kalinowsky, a Polish pipe layer turned landscaper. He was also in the Navy SEALS, Polish division". I doubt this is a coincidence.
I think every boy needs reinforcement that being Polish or of Polish descent is something to be proud of. And Rob Van Dam is definitely an example I would share with any boys struggling with their identity. I also tell my daughters about "Mr. Pay Per View" himself as an example of successful Polish Americans.
Now, if Rob Van Dam would confirm on here that he is indeed Polish, I would squeal like a silly school girl.
I have not been paid to write about Rob Van Dam, link to any of these sites, or promote anything. I just want to share this to spread information.