Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thought for the day: “Ask not what you can do. Just do it.” Paraphrase of a phrase from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thought for the day: “When you stop giving and offering something to the rest of the world, it’s time to turn out the lights.” George Burns
Pancakes with a delicious plum sauce, a great start to another glorious day. But wait, is that thunder we hear? And rain!! No problem, our illustrious leader has it well in hand. Hardly batting an eye Dorota had our classes all rearranged to the indoors and carried on with the show.
We then discussed the day’s events. Due to the inclement weather the planned baseball was cancelled, a less than democratic vote opted for yet another Will Smith movie to be shown the third and fourth period. Those opposed swallowed hard keeping in mind one of our team goals” “Flexibility.” Before dispersing for our respective classes, some of us decided to take a late afternoon field trip. Zack staying at camp to work on the Friday skit.
Chicken for lunch as we reported our class activities. John’s class did some brain teasers, cut up newspapers to make their own headlines and talked about the Friday skit.
Judy and Ryan class worked on the skit but would not divulge any details; they also did some word puzzles and made some greeting cards for a fellow student.
Dorota was less secretive and led her class in the final preparation of “Joy to the World” and “Yellow Submarine” followed by a fierce game of scrabble.
Kasia and Caroline, the more serious teachers amongst us worked on adjectives, played bingo and finished with an objective word puzzle. The lesson is to find various objects hidden in a picture. Marge challenged her gang with what to take if stranded on a desert island followed by Word Bingo, instead of just calling off letters and numbers she required them to come up with an English word beginning with that letter. Jane’s class played Scrabble until the boys accused the boys of cheating at which the girls dumped the board ! Jane then led a lesson on positive thinking and the importance of a right attitude. Pete’s class is obsessed with the Friday skit. Encouraged by Zack, at one point Pete was politely asked to get out of the camera view and retreated to his room and CNN. The class regrouped for the second period and allowed Pete to conduct a lesson on colloquisms.
Sadly, we had to talk about airport arrangements and the details of departure, just as we were getting to really know our students and their personalities, the bold and the shy, the tall and the small, we are all agreed they are a great bunch and the future of this great country is in good hands.
In the late afternoon after classes and prep, the culturally inclined boarded the bus to see a nearby castle while Dorota dropped off Judy and Caroline in Siedlce where Judy did errands and Caroline visited her dad and grandparents.
We converged at dinner and Judy regaled us with her adventures in town. She actually met a lady with whom she had become acquainted when serving with Global Volunteers at Reymontowka two years ago. The conversation then turned to marriage and life after one loses a spouse. After the ladies gave their various opinions, Jean (John) and Pete declared they would stay with the status quo. To close the evening the students put on a fashion show, what talent these kids have! Just can’t wait for those skits tomorrow.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Thought for the day: A pessimist sees the difficulty in every oppourtunity; An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty... Winston Churchill
We had our usual breakfast meeting. There are only several more! We discussed last night’s camp weddings and congratulated Caroline on her behavior in the face of pressure. We also spoke about the passing of Ted Kennedy. After that, we got an insider’s look at the dry-cleaning industry thanks to Pete.
At classes today, the number one concern was getting ready for our skits. Rehearsals could be seen and heard all over the grounds.
Caroline also did worksheets with her group and said it was successful. John’s class was seen playing a lively game of Scrabble by my class, and I had to pry them away. There was also a game of cards going at the same time. Marge led her group in a Morse code exercise, something unique that she has knowledge in. Kasia continued with telling time exercises and rhyming bingo. My own group wanted games instead of work sheets, so we tried UNO and Zingo. While looking to play a game of table tennis, we got treated to a rehearsal of “Yellow Submarine”. It sounds like a hit!
For the third and fourth sessions we watched a movie together, “The Pursuit of Happiness”. In the end it was an American success story, but during the film we witnessed that desire to work may not always be enough. Perseverance was the key for this family
At 2 p. m. we had a wonderful recital by Kacper. He played one piece from Chopin, and then a more contemporary piece. He spoke about his plans to move, and left us wanting more of his music.
At a late lunch we were honored by the presence of the Siedlce County Governor Zygmunt Wielogorski. He thanked us profusely for our contribution of time, talents and money to help the Polish youth. There were many interesting subjects discussed including Polish culture and the complicated country of China where he had been as a weight lifting judge during the recent Olympics. In regard to Poland’s historic opponents, he believes that the younger generation in Poland will be able to move forward strengthening relationships with Germany. He spoke of Poland’s recent decades of peace, stating it is better to spend the money on the country’s needs than weapons.
We had a hair-raising supper tonight discussing the ups and downs of air travel. It was especially stimulating since we are all making international flights in a few days.
Following dinner, we experienced the end result of many hours of preparation by our students: Polish Night. All students took part in one way or another. We saw a history of how Poland began, we took part in a quiz about Polish personalities, enjoyed a traditional dance and listened to songs about the country of Poland. At the end we were presented with a beautiful hand-made keepsake of our stay here. If there are plenty more of young people like the ones we’ve gotten to know during our stay, the future of this wonderful country is going to be in good hands!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thought for the day: "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them".~ Walt Disney
By Ryan, Age 13
The day started out with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and the usual bread with Nutella followed by cheese fritters and orange juice.
Caroline and Kasia split the eleven-year-olds from the nine-year-olds apart this morning to better meet their vocabulary needs. Caroline taught her section to play ultimate Frisbee using English – of course – and she and Kasia plan to teach them “Farmer in the Dell” for Parents’ Night. Dorota taught Megan’s class using a worksheet that asks students to form words of many sizes out of the supposedly longest English word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidoshus” from the movie “Mary Poppins.” Another Morse Code worksheet that must be translated into English words was well received. Our students enjoyed working picture puzzles with the fastest finishers reading the English words aloud. We also decided what to do on Parent’s Night and worked with each student practice their part.
Two groups played the Siedlce bingo game created by Jean (John). His students practiced the script he prepared last night for their Parent Night presentations. Jane’s group tried the green Apples to Apples game followed by volleyball. They also practiced singing for Parents’ Night and requested some programs to help their parents sing the lyrics. Zack’s and Pete’s class played cards in English. Marge’s kids changed their minds about their skit but discussed new options in English as to what would work and not work for their presentation. They considered doing a commercial or singing a song from the “Lion King.” Then they played Jingo in English for a while.
During 4t hour the volunteers taught football and dancing. Lunch included tomato soup with noodles along with pork loaf and potatoes. The afternoon meant more class preparation and tennis, dancing rehearsal and fun for the kids.
Marek invited us to see a famous Polish tennis player in a match with Madzia’s dad, the camp tennis instructor right after supper. Madzia’s dad did well especially since he is a lot older than his opponent.
At about 7:30 p.m., everyone started to prepare for the campers’ wedding ceremony for four “couples” including Caroline and my pal Peter. The tent was set up like a church with flowers and an altar. Zack dressed up and loaned me a white shirt with a collar and tie for the ceremony that went just fine. Marge, Jane and Pete sat on the bride’s side in the front row. Caroline wore a pair of lace curtains over her clothes and carried a huge bouquet of wild flowers Judy and Jane picked fresh from the field next to Reymontowka. John wore a suit to be father of the bride and Alesha from the eleven-year-old class wore peach-colored curtains as Caroline’s maid of honor. The time after was spent at a “reception” with dancing.
Yes, looking back as I type this installment of the journal this was a very good day.
Tak, bardzo dziekuje.
Thought For The Day: “Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something.”
~Will Smith, "The Pursuit Of Happiness"
We started the day with discussing our weekend adventures. We all had a great time at Warsaw. So today it seemed like many of us were really looking for skits to do this Friday. Judy and Ryan had success with vocabulary puzzles. Their students selected states and facts to present this Friday. Jane played bingo with her kids. The boys won three games out of four against the girls. Then she had them do crossword puzzles. They also discussed their skit. Those students went head over heals for the English slang expressions. Jean (John) taught his kids to play cards in English including a game called 99. Then they worked on the skit.
Marge has two skits planned for Friday. Her students had a little trouble with idioms. Then three groups played Jingo. They had an interesting conversation about a situation in which a person dies in a car accident. Caroline and Kasia gave their students preposition worksheets. They talked about the difference between the uses of “a” or “an,” then played Uno. Dorota met with Megan’s kids for the first time. Then they wrote postcards with a first draft in their notebooks. They had success discussing Friday. Then they enjoyed a game of soccer. Zack and Pete gave out a baseball worksheet with a hidden picture and word search. After that was hangman. Then for the rest of class they successfully figured out their Friday plan.
Lunchtime we review our team goals and then we enjoyed a wonderful folk dance performance. Dinner followed with a discussion on economy.
Thought for the day: "The Reward of a Thing Well Done is To Have Done it" ~ Anonymous
By Jean (John)
This thought for the day expresses as none other can the spirit of the Global Volunteers in service this August at Reymontowka: they serve not for gain or glory but for the reward of having done it. As the week progressed, we learned more about each other, and there has been an inexorable bonding among the volunteers.
· Megan, the elementary school teacher from Philadelphia, who captivated the camper-students with her ever-present radiant smile and fluid choreography of Cotton-Eyed Joe, honed no doubt by her natural athletic ability as a volleyball player at the College of William and Mary. On Friday, she finished her one week engagement and departed. She is missed.
· Marge, the retired nurse, medical administrator, ballroom dancer, licensed pilot, and inveterate world traveler from Colorado Springs, from whose wide experience we all benefit.
· Judy, the Twin Cities MBA night student, mother, and Global Volunteers insider, whose indomitable cheerfulness is infectious.
· Ryan, Judy’s young son, whose eclectic pursuits defy classification.
· Peter, the retired Napa Valley dry cleaning mogul, whose frequent and varied volunteer adventures are the stuff off legend.
· Zack, Peter’s grandson, whose mealtime passion for Nutella is matched only by his addiction to pineapple jam, and whose musical abilities and Southern California good looks inspire the boys and drive the girls wild.
· Quiet Caroline from Connecticut, visiting Siedlce for a family wedding, who helps out with her facility with the Polish language.
· Jane, the retired nurse from New Jersey, who imparts to her camper-students social consciousness and noble thoughts and evokes from them profound and ponderous discussions of public policy.
· Kasia, the attractive, quiet Siedlce teacher whose command of the American idiom is flawless.
· Jean (John), the recovering lawyer from Alameda, California, who, as the humble author of this segment of the Journal, is not really so humble after all.
And Dorota, our mother hen, who is the glue that holds it all together, keeping us focused on the goal with her gentle but firm guidance.
Another of the gradual but noticeable changes as the first week drew to a close is the comfort level of the students with us and we with them, again a product of getting to know more about each other. There is more talk at our dinnertime roundtable of what worked well during the instructional periods and less of what did not work.
Friday started on in interesting note – hot dogs for breakfast. It was also a day of scola brevis. What would have otherwise been the third and fourth hours of class time were devoted to individual presentations by the volunteers about themselves and their lives back home. We got as far as hearing the presentations from Jane, Megan, and Marge. Jane described her Polish family heritage, her work as a nurse, and the brighter side of New Jersey. Megan, aided by some Power Point photos, told about her home, family and friends in Philadelphia, her life as a teacher, and her days as a volleyball player in college. Marge presented photos showing a panorama of the Rocky Mountains visible from her home in Colorado, described the environs, and told about her varied career, including he exploits as a pilot of her several private airplanes. Each presentation was followed by some probing questions by the camper-students and answers by the volunteers.
The week, which had begun with anticipation for all of us and anxiety and apprehension for some of us, has come and gone in the blink of an eye and passed into the realm of fond memories. It now all seems so natural, and we commence the second week knowing at the end that we will have done well the job our Polish hosts engaged us for.
It was a very busy day at Reymontowka brimming with action from beginning to end. The weather was perfect with plenty of sunshine and no wind.
In the morning a delicious breakfast of pancakes filled with “jam truskawkowa” and dollops of whipped cream spurred a lively discussion of teaching ideas and strategies for the day’s sessions. Classes went well with the campers seeming better rested than yesterday and more engaged in the lessons.
During the first two hours Marge led her group through a fun and challenging directions guide. Jean guided his class through the steps of menu planning and ingredient shopping within a hypothetical $40 budget for which some students received change and made interesting choices. Zack’s and Pete’s kids went through a definition worksheet, played Scrabble and showed photos of Pete’s Cook Islands service program. Kasia and Caroline focused on teaching action verbs using pictures and lots of out loud practice. They also pronounced phrases like “stand up,” “sit down” and “catch me” before playing some games.
Megan’s sessions included a potpourri of games such as Hot Potato, UNO and Simon Says with Megan writing down the phrase in English and the children teaching her the phrase in Polish. Jane’s class covered categories from feelings to school supplies. Examples shared on the feeling of anger were a computer crashing and gossip. Judy’s and Ryan’s eleven-year-olds also went shopping and learned about American coins and paper bills. They incorporated their study of weather words into their dialogue with the rotating shopkeeper sometimes using an umbrella if they pretended it was raining.
The last two hours were spent learning good ‘ol American baseball with manager Jean (John) or making colorful friendship bracelets coordinated by Megan.
The prelude to dinner of chicken soup, pork balls and potatoes was Chopin played on the piano without sheet music by young camper Casper. The afternoon provided a small window of opportunity to prepare Power Point presentations of our home states.
Supper was served an hour early so some of us could attend the 17th annual festival of songs, dance and folklore in Siedlce. Dorota met us outside the ampitheater and we were seated in the front row next to the mayor. To our surprise, we were introduced to the large audience by the Director of Culture and were asked to stand when he thanked Global Volunteers for its longstanding friendship with the community amid resounding applause. The dancing was extraordinary and the folk costumes were stunning.
Especially meaningful was the song “Moje Siedlce” sung by an accordionist from the city. The audience joined him in the Polish lyrics that state “My Siedlce, my soil, my streets, my squares, all of this because I was born here.” While we were not born in Siedlce or even in Polska, we are grateful for the hospitality of our host, the expertise of our country manager and the willingness of the citizens to share their children and community spirit with us.
Yes, Thursday was a great day from beginning to end.
Reymontowka, hej, hej! (Campers’ cheer.)
Thought for the day: We must reach out in new directions in order to change and grow.
We started the day with an unusual breakfast item ‘milk cereal’, also the remainder of the meal consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, sliced meat, rolls, bread, juices, etc.
Dorota shared the planning schedule for the rest of the week and our final day, being a presentation in the evening for the parents of the students, to be in English.
However, the best laid plans of mice and men do not always follow as scheduled: I had planned to continue with the homonyms, with verbal responses, to be followed by ‘likes and opposites’, the group continued to be very vocal, replying and adding comments to each presentation. So being, flexible, I had to go to Plan B. I thought a walking exercise would be more beneficial. I was wrong, so to plan C, discussing the rules and regulations of volleyball in English. As well as playing out the remaining time of the period. The boys won by one point.
As my watch was at a faster pace then the other groups, we broke ten minutes before the others. After discussion with Dorota, I suggested that we check our watches at breakfast in the future, to be on the same time frame.
During the lunch period ideas were presented for future lesson planning: supermarket shopping and purchasing; restaurant selection and ordering; monopoly; concentrations; and time phrases.
Discussion of future activities were: Thursday-girls to make Friendship bracelets and dancing, Megan, Marge and Jane to supervise; boys- volleyball with Caroline and Kasia; boys-baseball with Jean (John), Zack, Peter and Stefan.
The movie “Hitch” was shown and enjoyed by all, the showing had English auditory with Polish subtitles.
During evening supper, we had piano music, the performance was by an unknown camper, it was enjoyed by all.
The evening activity was a ‘talent show,’ we have many very talented people attending camp this session.
Thought for the day: "Enjoy the moment, it’s the start of a journey".
“Oh, how wonderful!”
That phrase pretty much sums up Day Three for me. We started off with a great breakfast and conversation. It is amazing how fast we are getting to know each other. We really seem to be coming together as a team!
Classes as usual are always an adventure, I engaged my group with an active guessing game. We learned phrases we would use at a party and talked about our families. We finished off our day with a rendition of “Take me Out to the Ball Game.” Jane, Pete, and Zack engaged their groups in a spirited discussion about music. The conversation ranged from Zack talking about American music to an in depth conversation about the disappearance of CDs. The language capabilities of some of the students amaze me. It is wonderful they can have such deep conversations about important issues. Across the tent, Marge focused on homonyms and engaged her students in the picture searches that seem like a huge hit among the Polish students.
Jean (John) reviewed animal names with his students while they taught him some animal names that started with a Y! He also took them for a walk where they used their English language skills to talk about their surroundings. Kasia and Caroline taught the little ones names of shapes and played fun games with them too! Judy and Ryan are beginning a new project focusing on food and ordering from a menu at a restaurant. The students seem engaged and excited about a real life activity they are practicing here at camp. The wide range of ideas and lessons my teammates have come up with are fantastic. There aren’t enough hours of the day to use all of their wonderful ideas.
The last hour of English we taught the students a few American line dances! Wow was this an interesting experience. I felt that I was observing a middle school dance in America. The similarities were amazing there were students too shy to participate and the students who were dancing fiends. First we “did the Cha Cha Real Smooth” during the “Cha Cha Slide.” That dance was followed by the Electric Slide and the much more popular “Cotton Eye Joe” and “YMCA.” The excitement and interest in dancing was infectious and all of us were so excited to be apart of the students’ enjoyment.
After another delicious lunch we were off to Siedlce to meet with the local county vice governor. It was such an honor to be invited to the office of such an important figure in the county. I believe it really made our team feel good about the work we are doing here with the children. After learning a lot about the local Polish government we walked through the town of Siedlce. We saw beautiful architecture, the town hall and post office. It was a wonderful experience to visit the city but it was great to come back to the cottage house to enjoy great dinner and conversation with my teammates.
We were then treated to a wonderful singing competition. I was pleased to see my “active” boys were using their talents in a lovely rendition of “Barbie Girl.” We were treated to another playing of “Cotton Eye Joe”, some heavy metal tunes, and a great performance by our Ryan who was a hit among the Polish students. It is wonderful to see our students enjoying their experience in camp. Well I hope you agree with me that the day was just wonderful, just wonderful!
Thought of the day: Don’t waste your life in doubts and fears: spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation of the hours or ages that follow it. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Crepes for breakfast! We are all overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of the food. Kudos to the kitchen staff.
9.30 a.m. and the start of classes, thank goodness for Marge who had previously cautioned us to do as much preparation as possible. We soon found out that the students are very bright and we went through the lessons real fast.
Leaving my able assistant (and grandson) Zack in charge of our students, I made a quick tour of the group, Marge in firm control with name cards and word games followed by a giant jigsaw puzzle of the USA.
Caroline and Kasia with the youngest group spelling out names of the week and months of the year.
Jean (John) discussing TV game shows, challenged by a student named John who says he is too smart to be a millionaire!
Jane using a great deal of animation in conducting a game of Apples to Apples and throwing in a few observations whenever the opportunity arose.
Megan showing her professional teaching expertise and commanding rapt attention.
Judy and Ryan out under the apple trees discussing future dreams and school transportation.
Zack and Pete gave a lesson on opposites and showed some pictures of home. Zack performed a mini concert on the guitar.
We assembled to sing American folk songs and during another hearty meal we compared our countries’ educational systems. While the students participated in various sporting events, we all seemed to converge in the resource room feverishly planning lessons, too busy to snack in the dining room so Dorota did “take out” by bringing the snack to us.
Hot dogs for supper followed by a delicious strawberry cheesecake. In the evening we watched the orientation ceremony for the “first timers” including our own Carolina, Ryan and Zack who earned their official Reymontowka certificates.
A great day of learning and sharing and, yes, teaching.
Thought for the day: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Last night a tired group of Global Volunteers met at the airport. We would slowly and surely become a team under the skillful direction of Dorota. We had a very informative tour of Reymontowka, the Manor House and its grounds, to be our home for a week or two. Jean (John) arrived later and the team was complete. A fast-paced table tennis tournament and then off to bed.
Breakfast was a place to start the process of getting to know each other, and then five of us went to Mass in a beautiful, old church, not far away.
At our first formal meeting, everyone contributed their thoughts, histories, and personalities.
From each volunteer’s personal goals, Dorota helped us formulate team goals. They are: To help Polish kids, To think Polish, To leave a positive impression, To learn as well as teach, and to enjoy the experience.
Moving right along, we then came up with the characteristics of an effective team: They are: respect, flexibility, listening, patience, understanding, sense of humor, independency, preparation, communication skills, implementation, helping, assistance, collaboration, sharing of ideas, participation, and receptivity.
We were reminded that each person bring their own skills to our joint effort.
During lunch we had a very practical Polish lesson, and during the lesson-----THE STUDENTS ARRIVED!! The Manor House was infused with energy, laughter and took on a new vibration.
We were then given the location for our supplies which will be invaluable in the planning of our lessons and went to the Tent for introductions. Yes, it’s real! These are our students. Putting myself in their place at their age, introducing myself in a second language----they did a fantastic job.
After this short introduction, the staff was able to separate the students into groups that will be most beneficial to the students and to us who teach.
We then went to the room to compose our very first lesson plan. Dorota had lots of guidance to offer her fledgling teachers, and it was a big help. A very productive day. Off and running!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Though for the day: "Kocham Cie Polska!"
In the blink of an eye, here we were on the last day of this 2-week adventure with the young children of Remontowka. One more breakfast in the manor's beautiful dining room before heading to our classes one very last time. Our final moments with our classes were occupied by picture taking and one more attempt at rehearsing our presentations for the night. The final 2 periods were dedicated to the scavenger hunt. The children seemed to have enjoyed collecting rocks, asking even the youngest of us whether we had 3 grandchildren and counting the windows in the main building...
We we served a lunch, including a dessert which consisted of "sweet bread"... a contrasting difference of sweetness with Cyndi's brownies...!! We went back to Kisielany in order to finalize the packing of our luggage. Our host was anxious to serve dinner, which, arrived, oh! just a little over 2 hours after lunch! Pierogis (in their "fat" format - apologies for not knowing the name...) and crepes filled with cheese and covered with some sweet jam.
We returned to Remontowka to attend the closing show. After very warm welcomes and thank yous by the camp director, we were witness to the children's talent in theater, signing and dancing. How sweet to see the girls and the boys putting so much effort in offering a great performance! We then had a chance to showcase our classes: Ania with Old MacDonald, Kasia with Head and Shoulders, Dorota with The farmer and the Dell, Lori with Bingo, Jim (a.k.a. "the King of Dance") with the Hockey Pockey, Bruce with some Chineese and Cotton Eye Joe and Chris and Cyndi with It's a Wonderful World... It is unfortunate that techonology refused to cooperate and we really look forward to seing the slideshow... Then it was time to meet some of the parents, eat... again... grilled sausages and marshmallows and final good byes to the kids and the camp staff.... definitely a touching moment.
One last ride on the bumpy road to Kisielany and before we knew it, it was time to go back home...In the end, I think that nothing would summarize our passage to Remontowka better than: "Kocham cie Polska!"
Thought for the day: Well done is better than well said.
Poor Richard’s Almanac
We started the day with the great teacher swap of 2009 in order to give every student the opportunity to learn from a North American English speaker. What the swap proved was that every single one of the teachers is a liar. How else to explain the angelic behavior of Pawel and Kacper, Janek and Mikolaj, Amadeusz and Jakub? What we got, perhaps, was the kids’ day-one desire to impress the new teacher. For me, the swap was a way to get to know eight of the children a little better—sadly, just in time to leave them.
By third period, we were all anxious to continue prepping our own classes for tomorrow night’s final show. Strains of Old MacDonald floated up from Ania’s table to the second-floor workroom where Chris’s and Cyndi’s classes put the finishing touches on their not- so-top-secret grand finale. This included once again interrupting Bruce’s and Jim’s classes for picture re-takes. Both classes got in the spirit of the thing.
The final session was given over to the sports round robin that proved so popular on Tuesday—with Jim supervising volleyball, Nathalie and Cyndi doing their best to keep the Blasto players INSIDE the box, and Chris’s team trying to even the score with Bruce’s in a sun-baked game of soccer. Bruce’s team once again crushed Chris’s, but, as Chris pointed out, his defense held Bruce’s team to a mere 3 goals, an improvement over Tuesday’s 8-4 rout. There were a few intelligent souls who opted out of all such activity, opting for the shade of the nearest tree.
Lori had made two dozen muffins with her class during third period, but somehow none of the muffins made it to the lunch table, a breach smoothed over by her provision of some traditional Polish gingerbread at the midday meal. There was also sorrel soup and baked chicken and of course potatoes—a Polish version of Tater Tots.
In the afternoon, we visited some of the sights few tourists to Poland ever see, beginning with the wooden manor house at Sucha. We toured the 1743 home currently under restoration and watched the most famous artist from Belarus at work in the living room. The highlights of the tour were the wooden windmill and the thatched-roof peasant houses.
Then it was off to the castle at Liw, a bastion that once stood at the border between Lithuania and Poland formed by the Liwiec River. The very fine armory contained weapons from the 15th century up to the Second World War. Chris gave us a lesson in the subtle distinctions between the halberd and the spontoon, while the guide explained how the castle’s bricks were saved from becoming cornerstones at Treblinka by the quick-thinking Otto Warpechowski, who persuaded the Germans that the castle used to be a fortress of Teutonic Order Knights. And in what might possibly be the most serious overreaction to conjugal infidelity ever, we were shown the very stone where the castle foreman had his wife, Ludwika, beheaded. The Yellow Lady stalks the castle grounds at midnight with her head under her arm, undoubtedly awaiting a suitor of less savage tendencies.
Our penultimate dinner at Ewa’s brought back our favorite mushroom pierogies, as well as ham and bean soup, and chocolate-filled “rugelah” for dessert.
Thought for the day: Evil grows and bears fruit, which is understandable, because it has logic and probability on its side and also, of course, strength. The resistance of tiny kernels of good, to which no one grants the power of causing far-reaching consequences, is entirely mysterious, however. Such seeming nothingness not only lasts but contains within itself enormous energy which is revealed gradually.
-"If Only This Could Be Said" To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays by Czesaw Milosz (2001) edited and translated by Bogdana Carpenter and Madeline G. Levine
After completing our classes, we all adjourned to the dining room to watch a movie with our students. Upon completion of the movie, guess what? It was time again to eat again, the highlight of the lunch being the chocolate brownies which Cindy had made for us and which were devoured in record time.
After lunch, most of us prepared for tomorrow’s class, and I met with my two Polish adult students for their afternoon English class. Upon returning to the manor after my class, my nose detected a familiar aroma which got my taste buds salivating. I couldn’t help it, but I had to go into the kitchen and investigate what smelled so wonderful. Eureka! I was right! My nose hadn’t deceived me as I savored the evening meal, zapiekanka, or what is affectionately called Polish pizza by me.
After dinner, we all met in the tent to enjoy the Polish talent show performed by our students and some of the Polish staff. We saw talents ranging from Waldek and Ula Cash, to magic tricks, singing, dancing, acrobatics and classical piano. I never cease to marvel and be amazed by the exceptional talent these Polish students possess.
After the talent show, we danced in the tent for a while and then proceeded to the dining room where we all enjoyed steak tartar, herring, and other fantastic Polish foods. It was an absolutely marvelous evening, as can be evidenced by the fact that I’m writing the remainder of this journal as the clock is quickly approaching midnight. What a great, fun day it was!
After lunch we discussed changing Thursday classes just a bit so that some of the students can be more exposed to native English speakers. Then we planned the scavenger hunt for Friday.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Thought for the day: “Chilhood has its own way of seeing, thinking, feeling; nothing makes less sense than trying to replace it by ours…” Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The day went by relatively smoothly, with the standard classes and hearty Polish breakfast and lunch. Unlike most days however, the children of the camp had prepared a night of dancing and music called “Polish Night.” The heat and humidity did not stop the kids from singing and dancing, as they enthusiastically celebrated their Polish heritage while donning costumes and sashes. Afterwards, the counselors and volunteers had hors d’oeuvres and some of us were pulled onto the dance floor for more celebrations.
The most striking thing about this night was not that the people in Poland truly cherish their heritage, but that they cherish their culture as all people do, whether they are from Peru, Costa Rica, Canada, or the United States. Some, upon hearing that I was going to Poland, would say “Why would you ever go to Poland?” Anyone who has been here does not need to ask the question.
Though for the day: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
After the barbeque and sing-a-long festivities of yesterday evening, I got to thinking about a conversation my son and I had with his doctor just before we left for Poland. I mentioned that we were doing a volunteer vacation that was to take us to a small town east of Warsaw. She said that she had heard of volunteer vacations, but that a friend of hers who had done such a trip came back disappointed that the work filled every day and prevented her from “seeing the country.” I tried to explain that the whole point of the trip was to get to know the real people of the country and not to check off a list of sights. And besides, I said, you could always sightsee before or after the two-week stint if you really wanted to. She did not seem convinced.
I suppose that people who are motivated to volunteer to spend two weeks working in a country rather than sight-seeing intuitively understand that spending an evening singing Polish songs has its rewards.
Thought for the Day: The man with the clear head looks life in the face, realizes everything is problematic, and feels himself lost, as this is the simple truth that to be alive is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground.
We did our journal reading and thought of the day. We had some time to sit and relax or complete last minute preparations before “the games begin”!!!
We had our usual 3 lessons with our respective groups followed by dancing lessons hosted and taught by our own “dancing with the stars” runner-up Jim.
Jim led is quite capably through the ELECTRIC SLIDE, a second line dance which the name escapes me and finally the ever popular YMCA. The “Brooklyn” girl led us in an exhausting rendition of COTTON EYE JOE, which would make even a ballet dancer’s quads and hamstrings tremble.
We adjourned for the day and had obiad which consisted of my favorite pickle soup followed by a chicken leg for all.
In the afternoon we had the pleasure to meet the Governor of Siedlce County. We had a lovely chat with the Governor about Siedlce, Poland and his 2 trips to China.
It was then 50 minutes of free time in the big city.
In the evening, our hosts Ewa and Sylwester along with Marek and his wife Ela provided a fantastic barbecue of blood sausage, Polish sausage, and pork from the neck of the pig. All outstanding.
It was a delightful evening. The husband of one of the couples just happened to have his accordion with him. We were regaled with Polish folk songs all evening.
Thought for the day:
Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.
The day of reckoning finally arrived, whereas this morning we were on the brink of conducting our first English class with our students. But, wait! As usual, we had to eat first, which is the usual Polish tradition no matter what the occasion. After truly enjoying our breakfast of pancakes/crepes filled with the cheese, along with the usual assortment of cold cuts, cheeses and hard rolls, we were ready to embark on the first teaching day of our two week adventure with the students at Reymontowka.
After conducting four classes with our students for the day, it was time to eat again, as lunch was served. We arrived at our dining room, some of us exhausted by the four teaching sessions, but all of us having a greater appreciation for the people who courageously chose teaching as their profession.
After lunch, we shared with each other what we felt had been successful lessons and techniques in our teaching sessions. Afterwards, we all came to the unanimous conclusion that there were little, if any, differences between the students in Poland and those in the U.S. Kids were essentially kids, all of whom enjoyed computer games, cell phones, sports, board games, Frisbee, and all of the other activities which young people enjoy doing, no matter what country they may reside.
After lunch and our sharing session, we all proceeded to go to the volunteer planning workroom where we prepared our lessons for the next day of classes. Later in the afternoon, we took a break to celebrate Bruce’s birthday, which, in addition to sharing his birthday cake, included singing happy birthday in English, as well as the Polish birthday song, Sto lat, which joyfully wishes the person celebrating the birthday a hundred more successful and fruitful years of life.
After Bruce’s birthday celebration, it was time to return to more planning for tomorrow’s day of teaching. We all retired for the night with a sense of satisfaction that it was a fruitful and rewarding day of teaching, and looked forward to the challenge that tomorrow and the rest of the week would bring.
Thought for the day: To grow is to change, and to change often is to have grown much.
On Sunday, July 19, the team gathered for breakfast at Reymontowka. After breakfast they participated in an orientation meeting. First, the team members reviewed the Global Volunteers guiding principles. Next they established four team goals:
1. To learn about Polish culture;
2. To teach English to children;
3. To make friends; and
4. To grow personally.
Team members shared personal skills and resources materials they had brought with them. Then they reviewed the materials in the Reymontowka resource center.
Bruce and Michael went to church in Zeliszew.
After the mid-day meal, Dorota and Ania provided a Polish language lesson. Members then adjourned to the work room to prepare classes for the next day.
At 3:30 all in camp gathered together for introductions. Following the camper introductions, Dorota assigned campers into learning groups and teachers briefly met with their students.