Friday, October 22, 2010

Soon we will be just a memory...



Friday morning brought us together for our traditional breakfast before we embarked on our last day of classes. Everyone had a look of bittersweet anticipation. We are ready to go home, but we already miss our students, fellow volunteers, and the kind people of Poland. The experiences and memories we have will continue to increase our fondness of Poland as time goes on.

My heart ached as I entered each of my four classes at Spoleczna knowing this would be the last day with the kids I have come to love. The students, “my kids,” presented parties, gifts and speeches to relay their appreciation. Little do they realize that I am the one who is grateful to have been part of their lives.

At 6 p.m. we met for an abundant supper with the teachers and principals from the area schools. The Vice Govenor of Siedlce was present, as well as Dorota’s handsome husband, Chris, who joined us even though he had a cold.

The evening ended with Darlene, Rob, Pat and Ralph rallying for one last card game. I think the card sharks will miss each other and will all have some tall tales to tell in the future.

Soon we will be just a memory to the people and students of Poland. We have done what we were called to do. We have planted our seeds in the minds and hearts of the Polish people and they, in turn, have returned the gesture. We were given an opportunity to make a difference and I think we did.

Written by: Vickie Henige (Michigan)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Twentieth Anniversary of Global Volunteers in Poland!

Dear Volunteers,

Our partnership started together with the democratic changes in Poland. After many years of studying Russian we needed to have a well qualified English speaking Polish cadre that could lead us into the European Union and NATO.

For all these years, you have offered us the most unique form of volunteering; you have worked with us, shared your skills and time and covered all of your expenses. We would like to thank you so much for all of your help from the bottom of our hearts!

But teaching English is not everything; most importantly you have offered your friendships, openness, unselfishness and your hearts to us. Helping those in need is a very special value nowadays. Bending over another human being and showing him care and assistance is the most precious characteristic, especially in the present world. It is you, our dear friends, that dedicate your time and efforts serving the ones who wish to broaden their horizons.

We were with you on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks took place in the USA and you sent us your condolences when the President of Poland was killed in the plane crash in Smolensk.

We know each other, we understand each other and thanks to these contacts there is a special bond between us. We think of each other in difficult moments and share happy times with our friends.... I think this is the biggest accomplishment of our twenty years of partnership.

The volunteers have become a permanent part of our local landscape, we no longer think of them as guest but it seems that they have been with us forever.

Our time spent together is not only English classes but also long lasting friendships, exchanging letters, overcoming barriers, mutual friendships and visits!

Thank you so much again! You will remain in our memories and our hearts forever! We will never forget what you have done for us and our children with no self interest! We hope we will see each other in Poland again!

Fragments of speech offered by Zygmunt Wielogorski, Governor of Siedlce county on October 10, 2010.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A First for Jim... Hot Milk Soup!!

October 14, 2010

We started the day with our usual Polish breakfast, but this one was totally different from what I ever experienced before. For breakfast we had hot milk soup! It was a hot soup made with milk which also contained noodles in the recipe. In my previous four years in Poland, this was a first.

After breakfast, Dorota asked her usual questions. Who’s going where? Who’s coming back when? Who needs a box lunch? If Dorota should ever decide to leave her position as Program Manager in Poland, she would have little problem securing a position as a concierge at a five star hotel in Poland.

After breakfast, we all proceeded to our respective teaching assignments, mine being at Spoleczna along with Mike, Vicki, and Dr. Michael. The traffic going to Spoleczna was unusually light today because it was Teacher’s Day and many schools did not have classes. We arrived at our school in record time, and were 15 minutes early for class, which was record time. Because it was Teacher’s Day today, many of the teachers received gifts of flowers, candy and other goodies from our students.

After completion of our formal classes, we had lunch and then prepared for our next day’s teaching assignments, while some of us continued our day with tutoring assignments at Reymontowka. Later that afternoon, two local wood carvers arrived exhibiting their amazing wood carvings. They were available for viewing, and three of the volunteers purchased some of the carvings to take back to the U.S.

Before dinner, a group of us went down to the bar for some fellowship and refreshments. Well, who was down in the bar conducting classes? I bet you’d never guess! You guessed it, it was non-other than old Ralph who was conducting his classes in the bar. It’s little wonder that Ralph looks forward to his afternoon classes at Reymontowka :)

After a quick beer and some welcome fellowship, it was time for dinner again. While having dinner, I was struck with a twinge of sadness because very soon many of my fellow volunteers would be departing for home on the weekend. I fought back my sadness with the happy thought that I’d still be around for another week with the remaining eight volunteers to continue to enjoy each other, our students, and the wonderful Polish people and their culture.

Written by: JIM PODRAZA

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back into the Swing of Things: Week 2 in Siedlce

OCTOBER 12, 2010

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age. The child is grown and puts away his childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies." - EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Mike started the day with a quote from Victor Hugo and Reba read the journal for the day. Dorota gave us some news flashes about Thursday’s camp fire, the trip to Krakow, and the time for those leaving on Saturday. After that, we all went on way to our various teaching assignments.

Jim, Michael, Vickie, and myself set out with our infamous driver Roman. Roman took us to Siedlce in record time, as we were only ten minutes late today. All four of us had a great day teaching and arrived safely home for lunch. Connie had a great day working on ideas for holiday celebrations such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Jim and Vickie went shopping in the PM, with Mike subbing for Vickie and helping Julie tutor.

Mahli came back from school with flowers and a stuffed pink poodle, compliments from the students in appreciation for her teaching there. She also had a chance to have her picture taken with a 6th grade student known as the gangster. The students are all sad that she is leaving.

George and Kay, after a tough day of teaching in the morning, were treated to a tour of Siedlce in the PM. While on tour, they saw the only El Greco painting in Poland.

At dinner we were treated with the presence of a former camp counselor by the name of Arek. He lives in Denmark and is studying for his BA degree. Bruce has volunteered to type and edit the journal for the teachers.

Written by: Mike Yannotta

Monday, October 4, 2010

Team Goals!

4 October 2010 – Monday

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: : "A teacher affects eternity; s/he never can tell where his/her influence will stop." - Henry B. Adams

After our fine breakfast we gathered in the research room. Our first task was to establish team goals. After much thought and goading we finalized the goals as:

- To teach and influence Polish children and adults.
- To learn and experience Polish culture.
- To make and renew friendships.
- To build bridges between our cultures.
- To have FUN!
- To experience personal growth.

We moved right onto naming the characteristics of an effective team and boarded team skills. The next challenge was the lesson in Polish at which we excelled. Many practiced our new language at lunch amazing our instructor, Dorota. Some time was spent before lunch preparing our lessons, gathering teaching aides and then off to lunch.

The afternoon was filled with a scenic ride to Siedlce to meet with the Vice-governor, Bartlomiej Kurkus. We were welcomed by Mr. Kurkus and thanked for our service to the community. We went around the room giving a little background on ourselves. Dorota read information about the County and the services it provides its residents. After a short question and answer period we had team pictures taken and left for our various shopping spots, post office, Kantor and Daisy store.

We retuned to Reymontowka for more lesson preparation followed by a fine dinner of pierogi and assorted cheeses and meats. A great parfait topped off the meal.

Pat Kalicki