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Two Homes, One Heart

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your life

Marcela , age 7, with her mother Lety, father Victor and brother Victor Manuel who still live in Mexico City.

Mexico native Marcela Kolarik finds fulfillment in Green Bay By Colleen Riordan

When Marcela Kolarik talks about taking her citizenship test this February, she glows with pride. “I’m so blessed. My heart will be in two countries.” Green Bay, where Kolarik has lived for the last decade, is much smaller than where she grew up in Mexico City. The capital of Mexico has more than 8.85 million residents and is 84 times larger than Green Bay. “It’s crowded in Mexico, and…I love the feeling of Green Bay being an open area. It’s a very small town for me, but it has good people. It’s a nice city to raise your children. It’s a good quality of life. I love it. “We travel at least once a year to see my family, and every time at the end of the trip we are all ready to come back. It’s that feeling - how people are so welcoming here. Those things you don’t see in bigger cities.” Kolarik was studying international business and foreign affairs at Tec Monterrey in Mexico

City when she met her best friend and the catalyst to the rest of her life. Her family hosted Tammy Jennerjohn, a St. Norbert College exchange student. The two girls became fast friends, so when Jennerjohn asked Kolarik to be her maid of honor, Kolarik traveled to Wisconsin for the wedding. Here, she met the love of her life and future husband, Phillip. Today, Kolarik is a bilingual 4-year-old kindergarten (4K) teacher with a master’s degree in education and teacher leadership. She and her husband have two wonderful daughters, Renata, age 2, and Camila, age 6. Leaving home and moving to the United States was not an easy journey. Aside from the rigorous official immigration process, finding your place in an entirely new culture and community is a huge challenge. “It was a bittersweet kind of feeling. You leave your family, friends, culture, food, world, and you come to a place where everything is different,” Kolarik says. “It gets very tiring trying to fit in 24/7 and trying to please everyone. It’s tiring trying to act Americanized sometimes.” There were times, she admits, when she wondered whether she should stay or return to Mexico. Most people were friendly and helpful, but immigration

16 | www.greenbaypressgazette.com/you | DECEMber 2015

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