On the morning of March 17, 2008, I called my grandmother as I was getting ready to board the Queen Mary. I remember telling her – “I am next to your ship!” I sent photos to my mom to share with her and she was looking at them while we were still on the phone. My grandmother couldn’t believe that she was looking at “her ship” again. That is when my humanities moment happened. In that moment, grandmother and granddaughter were connected in a way that they hadn’t been before. Minutes later, I stepped on board for the tour, standing on the ship my grandmother immigrated to the United States on.

My grandmother immigrated to the United States from Port Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1950s. She has shared many of her own memories with me over the course of my lifetime, and some she has kept close to her heart. I remember learning about Ellis Island when I was in elementary school, coming home and asking her about her experience coming to America. Ellis Island was closed as an immigrant processing station, so she had no memories of that, but she always talked about the ship she came here on – RMS Queen Mary. The ship was built in her hometown of Port Glasgow. Both her father and grandfather worked on it, her father as an electrician and her grandfather as a carpenter. It was christened in 1934, a month after she was born and 21 years later, it was the ship she sailed to America on- a one-way ticket in hand.

The Queen Mary is currently used as a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Having had the opportunity to explore the ship, I was able to connect with my ancestors. Not only my grandmother who set sail on it, but also her father and grandfather, people I would never know, but who felt part of me as I encountered their work. While there, I also learned about the role that the RMS Queen Mary played in shuttling troops across the Atlantic during World War II. This is all part of my history and one of the most significant humanities moments that I have experienced.

– Kathleen Stankiewicz (High School History Teacher)