Sunday, October 18, 2009

Millennium Development Goals Achieved (September 27-October 16, 2009)

Twelve volunteers taught for five hours a day. 800 hours of the English language instruction were provided to 190 students. 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school, the center for disabled adults "Caritas" and the after school shelter were impacted. The volunteers also conducted classes for 12 emloyees of the county government, 2 local teachers, as well as 6 other adult community members.

October 16, 2009

By Dennis

As Pat, Kathryn, Betty, Perry, Mary Ann, Ellen, Eddie and Dennis prepared for another routine day of teaching and tutoring they were treated to a breakfast featuring eggs and ham. It was not routine as everyone knew that it would end with final goodbyes. Goodbyes that we were not looking forward to. Yes, there were treats and smiles, but there were also many teary eyes. Our evening was capped off with a goodbye dinner with the deputy governor, volunteers, other community members and at least three adults who benefited from our efforts. Of course there was the packing for an early morning departure. Oh, and there was that final journal and thought for the day. Tomorrow we leave and go our separate ways with many great memories. Last but not least – have a good and safe journey.

Thought for the Day (from Dennis): Mother Teresa..."We may not do great things in this world, but we can do small things with great love.

October 14, 2009

By Pat

I awoke this morning to beautiful snow. There was at least a foot of the wet stuff.

Jola picked me up and we made our way to the church in Cisiee for Mass. We then went to the school for a program celebrating Teachers’ Day written and directed by two teachers. How do those kids memorize all those lines? Each teacher was presented with a rose and bar of chocolate. Iza made the drive back to Reymontowka Place with 5 children packed in the back seat. We let them off in their village. A surprise on the road, tree branches bowed down to cover the road. Iza carefully made her way through them.

I entered the manor house to discover another surprise, no electricity at Reymontowka. Candles were placed along the hall like a landing strip. A group of business people meeting here was literally in the dark.

The English students from Kotun walked from town to meet with Kathryn and me. After our lesson they walked back in the snow and cold.

Thought for the Day (from MaryAnn): A tree is known by its fruit, we by our deeds. A good deed is never lost: one who sows courtesy reaps friendship and one who plants kindness .gathers love. Saint Basil

October 13, 2009

By Betty

Winter is definitely trying to come to our humble group. Eddie’s early morning report of cold and windy proved to be the weather of the day. Snow has been predicted this week.

Today Ellen reports she had a wonderful day working with two female students and enjoys the “more laid back atmosphere” as the other students are away on a one week trip. How much better can you get when you can report the day “went well”?

At dinner tonight Mary Ann and Dennis showed us some of the angels their students have been creating. All four of the Global Volunteers at this site were presented with special Christmas trees made by the students and have promised not to open special letters until Christmas Eve. Will they keep their promise?

Our dinner tonight included slices of fresh pineapple given to Betty by a student who was leaving for a special conference. The joke of her class was this student always wanting to use the Polish word for pineapple and Betty wanting her to use the English word. It is a special memory to have developed a fun joke with a student especially over something silly and in such a short time.

In the spirit of teamwork, Dennis showed Perry the secrets of using the washing machine in the laundry area. Perry remains proud of his “Polish-American” invention of a dryer. Yes, a dryer in Poland. Put your wet clothes on a rack and turn on a room fan. Perry shared this with Dennis who is a true believer in the new system.

Perhaps after reading this or hearing this, each of us will savor a special Global Volunteer memory of a student, a lesson, a conversation or even a joke we have had while in Poland. Why not make another memory today?

Thought for the day (from Pat): A tip; to stay young, laugh often, and laugh loud.

October 12, 2009

By Perry

For breakfast, the remaining eight team members slowly came downstairs rubbing their eyes recovering from a busy weekend. All except for Eddie, who walked in from a walk in the fresh morning air and smiling.

We were asked to attend a team meeting at 6 pm, before dinner, so we could review team goals.

Betty and I walked around the Reymontowka grounds to enjoy our surroundings. Several of the wood carvings were captured in photographs. Betty also made some new friends by offering three horses some tasty apple treats. More photographs were taken. Kathryn indicated the has an especially enjoyable day with one of her students, Agnes, who thoroughly enjoys American idioms.

At 6 pm we had a good meeting reviewing our team goals: student education, volunteer education, personal relationships, leaving good impressions and flexibility. We also got the see the interview done by the local Siedlce TV station host talking to Marek Blaszczyk, Dorota, Kathryn and Perry.

Dorota also shared that next year will be a celebration of 20 years of Global Volunteers participating here in Poland. There have been 2,500 volunteers here in Poland and a total of 25,000 volunteers internationally.

Thought for the Day (from Betty): Memories are steppingstones from the past that lead us to new experiences and new horizons. (Author Unknown)

October 8, 2009

By Doris

Cheryl and I started our day teaching the wonderful classes from Cisie. It will be very hard to say "good bye to them today! We also ended our time with the Niwiski students. In the beginning, I honestly thought I could not face those "energetic" little darlings 7 times, but today I am actually feeling like I want to stay with them longer. Once they understood "my plan" we got along beautifully! I even got a hug "good bye" from all of them!! I would like to say that I accomplished my 3 goals. I met wonderful people from all over the U.S. who enjoy helping others. I was able to visit and experience the homeland of my great grandparents, and most of all I hope I made a small contribution to the advancement of some very special children that I will never forget.

Thought for the Day (from Kathryn): Don’t be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. …Richard Bach

October 6, 2009

By Dennis

It was a typical routine of up and ready for another delicious breakfast featuring pancakes with cheese. The volunteers were then off to their normal schedules of tutoring and teaching for the day. There were some highlights through out the day. Cheryl and Doris had a new group of 6th and 7th graders in the afternoon. Pat had a great day planning for the Weds. zoo trip. Kathryn had a tour of Siedlce with her student.

The highlight of Tuesday was a dinner here at the manor with the County mayor, vice mayor, 13 of 21 County Commissioners, 4 representatives from the Ukraine a long with their translator and of course the Global Volunteers. We had a very nice meal and a slide show of the seasonal changes in the Ukraine county side. The mayor welcomed everyone, the leader of the Ukraine delegation responded and Mike responded on behalf of the Global Volunteers.

Thought for the day (from Edmund): author unknown: No longer forward or behind. I look with hope or fear, but grateful for the good I find, the best is now and here.

October 5, 2009

By MaryAnn

This morning we started the day with a tasty breakfast of apple fritters and other usual meats, cheeses and vegetables. Mike read the journal and Mary Ann had the thought for the day. Everyone left for their classes and tutoring assignments as usual. Dennis, Eddie, Ellen and Mary Ann left for Caritas, which is about a fifteen minute drive with the best driver in the group. After our usual cup of coffee, Dennis left for the computer room, where there were 8 students in a room that is normally full with 6 students. He works with Daniel who speaks very good English. Eddie went to the craft room with his normal enthusiastic students after which he joined Dennis. They work with Daniel who speaks very good English. Lucky them. Ellen left for the beauty room where she has 5-6 students. Mary Ann went to the sewing room with two therapist, four students and one student who just observes. After our first break Ed and Dennis both went to work in the computer room where they teach for the rest of the day. Ellen and Mary Ann teach English together in the break room for 1 ½ hours after which everyone has a lunch break. After lunch Ellen returns to the beauty shop and Mary Ann goes to the kitchen to continue with the English lessons. At 1:45 we start back for lunch with Doris and Cheryl. Everyone had a great day.

Thought for the Day (from Dennis): author unknown… As I work here there are moments of despair about the accomplishments or the feeling of insignificance of what I do. This is quickly erased when the spigot produces a stream of water which started with just one drop.

October 1, 2009

By Shirley

After a very generous and appetizing breakfast with the entire group, Mike and I met Roman, our most dependable driver, at 7:30. He took us a different route to show us another section of Siedlce, a kind thing to do. We arrived at Spoteczna at 8:10. Classes begin at 8:20.

Mike has a majority of boys-only three girls in his grade 2 classes. Today, scheduling sport events was the main topic which kept them interested.

My first two periods consist of 13 year old students. who at home in the USA would have conjured up terrible images and scary behavior for me. These two groups are very well-behaved and cooperative. In class they wrote original sentences following specified grammatical construction and then wrote them on the board . If there was a need to correct grammar, we did .

I followed the same plan with more difficult sentence construction in my next two classes. These two groups are divided into all boys and all girls. There were only a few relevant questions regarding grammar. These students have a good solid foundation.

We have two breaks during the morning:10 minutes after two classes and 15 minutes after the third class. Coffee, or tea with tasties are in the teachers’ room.

Tomorrow I will hear reports from each student over assigned magazine and newspaper articles. Introductions today gave each an opportunity to converse with me a few moments which is what Elizabeth (the principle) wishes us to do.

I am really enjoying working with these enthusiastic youngsters. They are eager and willing to attempt anything asked of them. They do a good job.

Thought for the Day (from Mike): "Education is the only powerful weapon we have to change the world". Nelson Mandela

September 29, 2009

By Ellen

We started our Tuesday morning having a lovely breakfast of what is called an omelette in Poland, but it is really more like a pancake that was filled with jam. Dorota drove Ellen, Eddie, Mary Ann & Dennis to Caritas where the four of us will be teaching English to and interacting with adults with physical and mental disabilities.

Caritas is a Catholic organization and we were introduced to and had a meeting with a priest from one of the local churches who came to Caritas to meet the four Global Volunteers from the U.S.

We had an assembly with all 30 clients and the staff. Some of the staff members are called therapists. We introduced ourselves and talked about our life experiences and we were followed by almost all 30 clients, who also came to the microphone, and told us about their families, hobbies and what they were participating in at Caritas. There were all different levels of verbal abilities. Of course most clients spoke in Polish, with the exception of a few who spoke some English.

The Managers at Caritas are Marinus and his wife Alicja. Alicja was doing all of the translating of English to Polish and Polish to English.

Daniel, who speaks good English and also works in the computer room, was shooting lots of photos of the Global Volunteers meeting with Alicja and Marinus.

Some of the clients are able to learn about how to use computers, while others are working in the crafts room making little Christmas trees out of pine cones. which they will be selling for the holidays. The clients also spend time in the kitchen learning how to prepare meals for themselves.

Dorota picked us p at Caritas and we returned to Reymontowka for lunch.
Following our dinner of pierogi, a group of us – Perry, Dennis, Mary Ann, Eddie, Pat and Ellen met at the cafe where we shared family photos together!

Thought for the Day (from Cheryl): The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust

September 28, 2009

By Betty

Today you are to embark on our first day with students and staff in our assigned sites. Let’s take a deep breath and look at our preparation. We started our Monday with identifying the characteristics of an effective team…that will be us! Some of the characteristics we identified were having a positive attitude, consideration, sharing, being flexible, having fun, asking for help, and having patience. Like wow! Keeping these characteristics in mind and adding that smile characteristic should make us a strong team and effective volunteers.

Our morning continued with Dorota teaching us to pronounce Polish words and phrases. Now remember cz sounds like ch; the letter w sounds like a v; and the letter j sounds like a y. Our Polish lesson ended by having Perry and Shirley volunteering to demonstrate their Polish skills by reading our lesson aloud. They did real good. We gave a special conclusion to the lesson by adding the characteristic praise to our team list. We appreciated having that demonstrated on us by Dorota (and she was smiling….doubling-up on our list of effective characteristics).

In the afternoon we met with the mayor of the county, Mr. Zygmunt Wielogorski. Yes, indeed, we sat in his office and discovered that he is an attorney; has a sense of humor; is candid about dealing with complex issues; proud of his family; and wanted to hear about our backgrounds along with our views about his county. (I personally would like to know how he became a weightlifting judge at the last Olympics.) He said he was hoping to drop by and visit us later while we are here in Poland and he also said he would like to be a grandfather. I hope both happen.

Thought for the Day (from Ellen): “Don’t place your mistakes on your head, their weight may crush you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view your horizons”.

September 27, 2009

By Pat

The morning started with a wonderful breakfast. We dined in the Red Room on cheese fritters and the usual veggies, meats, cheeses, cereals, tea and coffee. We did our introductions and headed off to the first team meeting. We began with all but one present due to an indisposition, boarding the Global Volunteer philosophy of service touching on the high points. Team goals were established which resulted in; further education of students, further education of volunteers, tbroaden personal relationships, be flexible, leave a positive impression of Global Volunteers.
Assignments were handed out and questions were asked regarding scheduling. We ended the morning session with the decision of attending church or a trip to the store.

After lunch we had some free time to prep for the meeting with the site representatives. The meeting with the reps was lively and interesting. Many questions were asked and notes taken. After our guests left we spent some time discussing everyday Polish culture and how much similar we are.

Thought for the Day (from Betty): Teaching is touching lives….forever.