Friday, October 7, 2011

Message of the day (by Edmund): A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them.

On our final day of teaching, we started off the day with a magnificent breakfast of eggs w/ tomatoes, red peppers and onions in addition to the other stuff that is available to us daily. Jim had his usual portion of bran with yogurt saying that he's going to eat light for breakfast today to make room for all of the goodies that we'll be getting during our coffee/tea breaks in the schools.

Cisie school was something else today. All of us were well prepared with our usual lesson plans but there was just something different in the school. My 4th graders were acting rather strangely during the first hour. They were whispering more than usual, writing things on paper with different colored crayons, sneaking items to each other thinking I can't see them, you know, the usual stuff that goes on in the Polish classroom.

Well, after our coffee/tea break, I returned to my classroom to a wonderful surprise. When I entered the room, all of the children rose from their chairs and said, "Thank you, Pan Ed!" On the blackboard were beautiful messages like, "Thanks, Pan Ed!"..."We love you, Pan Ed!" Then, while still standing they sang "Sto lat!" It was so beautiful...and, let me tell you, it was tough keeping back the tears.

The children then presented me with assorted hand-written notes of thanks, a plastic electric clock, candy, and other cute little things. I couldn't dare ruin the rest of the morning for these kids and start teaching again! We just chit-chatted after that, and that was okay. I got hugs...and yeah, I hugged back.

I know that I wasn't alone in being on the receiving end of cute little gifts, personal notes of thanks from the students, hugs from the little ones, and so on. All of the volunteers were surprised by the genuine love and gratitude of these poor children. As one of the volunteers said last week, "You know, we're learning a lot more than the kids," and, as a result, we've become better people from our interactions with the Polish people and children.

Then Andrzej whisked-us-away in his taxi enroute to Spoleczna. We saw the same green houses, a stork's nest on the telephone pole, farming fields on the left and on the right, that we saw during our daily trips to the semi-private school. The farms and fields are absolutely beautiful! We are so lucky to be here. After a brief get-together in the faculty room, we entered our classrooms.

The first hour was pretty much routine...reading, writing, pronunciation ("th"), math, days of the week, etc. Then we took our coffee/tea break, had our caffeine fix, ate a couple of cookies, and returned to class. When I walked into the classroom, both of my 4th grade classes greeted me with a "Thank you, Pan Ed!" They then presented me with a book about the area around which my grandmother was born in Poland (Downary), a Chopin CD, chocolate cookies, pictures of students from both classes (dressed in costume), and more thank you notes than I care to mention in this Journal entry. As at my other morning school, it was hard to hold back the tears. Every student wanted me to see his/her picture in the class photo...every student thanked me for helping them with conversational English...every 10 year old student made me feel like I was making a positive change in their lives. It felt good. It felt real good.

Then it was back to Reymontowka. I don't think I said too much on our taxi-ride back. I was that emotionally drained.

I forgot what we had for lunch...oopps, it was a breaded sole w/ tartar sauce that was outstanding! Now, for those of you who know me, I like to eat. I looked around the table for some leftovers that I usually get from a couple of the volunteers who don't eat that much, but there was nothing left on their plates! I have to talk to Dorota about serving an extra setting next time of the fish dinner.

We went to our rooms and four (4) of us started packing for our return trip home to the States and making last minute changes to our itineraries. I can't wait to get an email from Rita and Jim as they venture through the highways and byways of Poland during the next week. I wish them much luck on their adventures.

We just finished a wonderful dinner in the fireplace room...what a fitting location for our final dinner at Reymontowka! A couple of teachers from Cisie and Spoleczna as well as the Pani Dyrektor from Spoleczna joined us for dinner. We talked and laughed...that's the way it should be.

Thanks for all of your help and support fellow volunteers. I had a wonderful time with all of you. I hope you share my feelings.

By Edmund.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Message of the day (Jim):

No one has the right to take for granted his own disadvantages over others in health, in talents, in ability, in success, in a happy childhood or congenial home conditions. One must pay a price for all these boons. What one owes in return is a special responsibility for other lives. (Albert Schweitzer, author of Teaching Reverence for Life.)

Today we experienced the “going to work” and “construction” traffic jam on the way to the Spoleczna Middle School in Siedlce. I liked the way Andrzej weaved his way around traffic and roundabouts, driving down side roads to get us to school on time.

At Cisie Elementary we had a wonderful celebration in honor of past, present, and hopefully future volunteers. Poland was the first country to request that volunteers teach English and now it’s an option in the Global Volunteer Program for all countries. The celebration began with the 4th grade children, in costume, dancing the Mazur beautifully. Then Iza and Jola led their Scouts in the Belgium dance, followed by songs or performances by several groups of children. The local dignitaries extended words of welcome and thanksgiving to the volunteers and hosts, commending them for their cooperation and efforts to improve the opportunities of the children through sharing language and culture. Afterward the hosts, dignitaries and volunteers gathered for coffee, cake and more conversation.

But that’s not the end of our unusual day. The staff at Cisie Elementary invited us for an evening picnic. It was quite a sight when everyone was roasting kielbasa over a roaring bonfire. We chatted, sang and danced. A special performance was given by Jim and Ed to the song “Pretty Woman” which delighted everyone. I think we have all learned to appreciate and enjoy the people of Poland and their customs!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Message of the Day (shared by Rita):

I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish. (Mother Teresa)

Plates of aromatic crepes greeted us for breakfast. Is there a better way to start the day?
Schedules were announced, amended by the Wednesday Cisie program from 10 to 12 noon. Our taxi driver, Andrzej, would pick us up Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and take us to Spoleczna Middle School and return us to Cisie by 10:00 a.m.

Pat tells us that rehearsals have been underway for a while and she suspects that her third graders trot out the same song each year. But then, why not?

A beautiful sunny afternoon walk brought us close to several handsome horses changing pastures. Further down the dirt road were two virtually hidden bunkers, left over from the Russian occupation following WWII.

Again the kitchen outdid themselves. At supper Polish Pizza appeared on two large plates. Amazingly the 12 inch long open faced sandwiches discreetly disappeared. The combination of mushrooms, pickles, meat and melted cheese was a unanimous winner. Off to prepare for tomorrow; days are now speeding by as we accept and return party invitations with our host teachers. May the beautiful weather linger a bit longer.

By Carol.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Message of the day (by Pat): You have brains in your head and shoes on your feet you can go anywhere. Dr. Seuss (paraphrased)

After a restful night’s sleep, the volunteers were ready for another hearty breakfast comprised of apple fritters, various cold cuts, veggies, coffee and tea. Um, um, GOOD!

The Cisie drivers arrived on time, as usual, and we were driven to our teaching assignments. The Cisie children were anxiously awaiting our arrival greeting us with “Good morning!” at every turn. The classes went smoothly, and before long we were taken in Andrzej’s taxi to Spoleczna, the semi-private school in Siedlce.

After spending a week with my fellow volunteers, I get a kick out of the various pronunciations of Siedlce. Don’t worry volunteers, there will be many more after us who will have difficulty pronouncing Siedlce. Maybe we should consider changing it to Shuttletown or something.
In my estimation, the children at Spoleczna appear to be a little more advanced than the children I taught in other schools in the past. The majority of my fourth graders are smart, responsive, and eager to learn. I have one kid in my class, Filip, who reads better than I do…well, come to think of it, that ain’t sayin’ much since I’m from New Jersey.

We returned to Reymontowka for yet another delicious meal: Vegetable soup, pork with a delicious honey-mustard sauce, french fries and veggies. Oh man, was that good!

After lunch, we remained in the dining room to discuss weekend travel arrangements for Carol, Rita, and Jim’s weekend trip to Lublin. I knew this was going to be an interesting trip for this adventuresome threesome when one of them asked, “I thought we were going West to Lublin?” You see, folks, Lublin is in the other direction and South of Siedlce.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Pat and Jim went across the street to pick some raspberries for their cereals the next morning. Unfortunately, Jim won’t have any for breakfast because he ate all of his already.

Pat was making plans to go to Warsaw with Gosia. Poor Ed had to stay at Reymontowka and monitor the decibel levels of the music at the wedding that’s taking place on Saturday. Don’t feel too sorry for Ed, however, he has plans to have lunch with the new Kasia/Kate and her husband and two children on Saturday, and another lunch on Sunday with Jola and former Cisie Pani Dyrektor, Bozena.

After a refreshing break on the patio, we sat down for our final meal of the day. Jim finally got his potato pancakes which he has been anxiously awaiting since he arrived here on Saturday, which, I might add, he devoured voraciously. There wasn’t a single potato pancake left on the platters.

I am sure I’m speaking for the rest of the volunteers when I say I’m having a blast here in Poland. Thank you Dorota for making it all possible. Jeszcze Polska nie zginela.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Message of the day (by Edmund): Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Another day in our Polish Paradise. Breakfast featured Polish cheese along with our usual terrific breakfast trimmings.

Our teaching schedule was slightly altered with the addition of a student concert at the Spoleczna School. The concert was a unique chance to see and hear traditional Polish Folk music. The program was well received by students. The visiting group of four adult musicians noted our presence as visitors and played a Jewish foxtrot, written in Poland and dedicated to America. It was a truly neat experience.

All group members will be off on weekend excursions, except Ed, who plans on relaxing and hopefully picking a few local raspberries for our warm fuzzy group of volunteers.

Rita and I tutored three neighborhood 7th grade girls who walked over to Reymontowka. A good example of 3 great kids wanting to improve their English skills.

A spaghetti supper capped off the day with prunes in whipping cream for dessert – PRICELESS.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Message of the day (shared by Jim):
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade. (Chinese proverb)

Today is Wednesday, our second day of teaching and what could be better than starting with placki (fritters) and coffee? The food at the Manor is presented so beautifully. Carol said that there must be an artist in the kitchen.

Arriving at school, we meet the students – so welcoming and helpful. Most of us are still struggling to find our room or the teacher’s lounge. When the students see that we are lost, they direct us to the WC.

Today in class we were talking about wild animals and I shared some northern Minnesota stories about bear, wolf, deer and camping adventures. We were also reading excerpts from Star Wars and a story about the Iditarod Trail, explaining misunderstood words as we went along.

Suddenly the students stood up and I knew it had to be break time. Then off to the teacher’s lounge to share delicacies and coffee with the staff. It’s hard to believe that at noon we were ready to eat again and lunch is our biggest meal of the day.

A tasty chicken soup was the start of lunch. Are we stuffed yet? Of course, but we need extra energy to work for a few hours – planning tomorrow’s classes. In the resource room, we gave Dorota a workout – she can answer any question – and always with a smile. Carol then tutored a high school junior focusing on English phonics and Pat tutored three waitresses on English terms for food and beverages. Needing to clear our minds, we took a walk, always ready to dodge bicyclists or speeding cars on the road.

Previously we have had dinner in the “fireplace room”, but tonight we ate in the main dining room because we were the only guests in the Manor. Reymontowka Manor House is a beautiful place to stay while volunteering and we are so glad to be here.

By Rita.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Message of the day (shared by Rita):
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin. (Mother Theresa)

Finally, the first day of school! It meant a 7:00 a.m. breakfast, bountiful as always, and a 7:30 a.m. departure with either Iza or Gosia driving us to Cisie Elementary School.

Pat was to teach 2nd and 3rd grades, Jim and Ed with 4th graders, Rita with 5th graders, and Carol with the sixth graders—mercifully all small classes.

We entered, were escorted to the Teachers Lounge and shown to our individual classrooms.
Open, curious, smiling faces followed us with “Good Mornings” amidst a happy bedlam…an affectionate legacy from earlier Global Volunteers!

Comparing notes, I believe we each found a warm reception and traded “successful” approaches. Time did not stand still as we had feared, and students were genuinely responsive—Bingo, based on colors and shapes was a really enjoyable exchange in my classroom.

A discussion of different sports brought wide responses—girls favored snow-boarding, and boys, more predictably football/soccer.

Between classes we were invited to the Faculty Lounge for coffee or tea and elegant pastries—Just saying “No!” proved hard!

The Spoleczna van needed service, so a local taxi driver, Andrzej, delivered all five of us to the Spoleczna School in Siedlce. Here again a noisy chorus of “Good Mornings,” and small, responsive classes. Our morale was definitely improving, and courage returning. The Faculty Lounge offered another round of tantalizing goodies…promise of a weight gain!

Again at lunch we shared insights over pickle soup. For Jim and Rita, a young university graduate would be coming for an hour’s tutoring mid-afternoon.

Wednesday would come soon enough, but our initial exposure today was most reassuring. Our students are attentive and responsive. Aren’t we lucky to be a part of Global Volunteers’ 21st season here in Poland under Dorota’s confidence-building leadership.

By Carol.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Message of the Day (shared by Pat):
A life lived for others is the only one worth living. Albert Einstein

What a great new team of volunteers: Jim and Rita from the cold northern parts of MN; Carol from West Palm Beach, FL and a summer home near Boston, MA; Pat, the veteran volunteer from the farmlands of IL; and, yours truly, Edmund from Ewing, NJ.

For you newcomers to Reymontowka, you will note that most of our entries into the Journal will concentrate on what we ate that day. For example, our first breakfast at the Manor House consisted of a halved hard-boiled egg floating in a deliciously thickened mustard sauce, various cold cuts, fresh vegetables, just delivered hot rolls, juice, coffee, and tea. A hearty meal indeed. When Carol looked at her breakfast dish, she asked Rita if she would like some, thinking that the plate was to be shared by everyone at the table. Lo and behold, Carol was told that that is her breakfast, not the table's.

During our initial Orientation meeting, Our Fearless Leader, Dorota, gave us a brief history of Poland and commented that Poland was freed from communism in 1989. Since then, Poland has prospered handsomely. Global Volunteers offered its services to Poland soon after that but had to change its focus of providing "hands" to Poland and provide something that Poland really needed, the understanding and usage of the English language. To paraphrase what the founder of Global Volunteers said during his meeting with the Polish representatives asking for assistance, he said that "Global Volunteers have never done anything like that before." And the Polish representative responded, "They'll be speaking English, won't they?" Many years hence, Global Volunteers has provided over 2,600 volunteers to teach conversational English to the children of Poland.

Continuing with the Orientation, the team of volunteers offered the following as its three goals:

1. To assist students with their ESL activities.
2. To be goodwill ambassadors.
3. To learn and appreciate Polish culture and its people.

The team then listed the types of characteristics that it would need to be an effective team:

1. A sense of humor 7. Flexibility
2. Cooperation 8. Patience
3. Communication 9. Tolerance
4. Openness 10. Dedication
5. Open-mindedness 11. Kindness
6. Honesty 12. Helpfulness

Dorota then distributed the Journal Entry Schedule as well as the Teaching Assignments. We were informed that all five team members will be teaching in the same schools: Cisie and Spoleczna.

At Cisie, Pat will be teaching Grades 2 & 3; Edmund--Group 1 in Grade 4; Jim--Group 2 in Grade 4; Rita--Grade 5; and, Carol--Grade 6. At Spoleczna, Pat will be teaching Grade 3; Edmund--Grade 4; Jim--1st Junior High School; Rita--2nd Junior High School; and Carol--3rd Junior High School.

Dorota gave out additional tutoring assignments as follows:

Pat at the Zelkow elementary school as well as tutoring Reymontowka waitresses.
Edmund will be the Team Journal Coordinator as well as tutoring a couple of middle school students.
Rita and Jim will be tutoring Agnes, an aspiring student.
Carol will be tutoring Kasia (Kate), a high school student.

Along with Our Fearless Leader, all of the volunteers went to the 12 o'clock Mass at the old wooden Trinity Church built in 1776, down the dirt road from Reymontowka. A beautiful church. The Polish people in church knew we were from Global Volunteers because we were with Dorota.

After Mass, a delicious lunch was served consisting of mushroom soup, a pork cutlet topped with tomato and melted cheese, carrot and red cabbage salads, juice, coffee and tea.

After some much-needed free time, the Team met with various representatives of Cisie and Spoleczna to find out what the schools would like to see the volunteers concentrate on during their class assignments. The English speaking representatives of the schools were very encouraging and the one thing that got my attention was when Kasia/Kate from Spoleczna said to me: "The students will be more nervous than you will be in the classroom. All of you will do well." Yeah, easy for her to say.

Another Orientation meeting followed, but this one had an added ingredient: classical piano music in the background. The young lady who will be performing tonight at a recital was practicing on the grand piano.
A simple but delicious supper was served: cold cuts, veggies, and a creamy dessert with fresh raspberries.

The Team and other guests at Reymontowka attended a concert this evening featuring eleven year old Alicja Rokita, an aspiring young pianist studying at the School of Music in Warsaw, and a student of forte pianist, Krzysztof Rynkiewicz, who performed for us several years ago.

Just a typical beautiful day in beautiful Poland. Good luck team members.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Message of the day: You must be the change you want to see in the world. (Attributed to Mahatma Ghandi and shared by Mary.)

Our day began as usual at 8:15 with the morning meeting. We then each taught the final classes for our groups. Each class spent some time on getting prepared for their class presentation during the final program anticipated for this evening. During the 3rd and 4th hours of class the students were divided into two groups. One group participated in the traditional scavenger hunt while the other group had a chance to learn about American football from Bobby, Robert, and Raghav. Each group then switched to the other activity for the 4th hour, although some of the boys managed to spend both hours playing American football.

The afternoon found some volunteers cleaning and re-organizing the work room. We could hear the campers doing rehearsal for other parts of their program presentations.

At 6 PM we gathered in the tent for the Final Program. It began with the campers singing. Then the campers performed a play about tolerance.

The presentations by the eight English class groups followed next. These ranged from a song about being Lazy to the song,5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,to Sponge-Bob. Dance performances followed. The campers closed the performances by singing Kocham Cię Polsko ("I Love You, Poland").

All then went to the bonfire area for kielbasa, conversation, and some good-byes.

Journal prepared by Lori

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Message of the day: The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous. (Attributed to Carl Sagan and shared by Lisa.)

Today we had a very busy day. We started off with our usual classes that seemed to go well for everyone even though the rain prevented outdoor activities again. During the third and fourth hour of classes there were presentations. Kinga spoke about Scotland where she is studying at a university. Lisa and Bobby shared information about Kansas. Robert did a presentation about New Jersey with a hint of New York included which the kids really enjoyed. They particularly loved seeing the photo of Robert's red 1967 Mustang.

We then had a quick obiad and headed for Siedlce for some shopping and a visit to a museum that features an El Greco painting.

The evening featured the camp weddings. About 40 people got “married.”This included some of the volunteers. Alas, these marriages will end with the final day of camp! Many stayed and danced and had a blast. All in all it was a very busy and exciting day.

Journal prepared and read by Lisa on July 28

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Message of the day: Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. (Attributed to John Barrymore and shared by Rita)

After our 2 regular classes with the student groups, Mary gave an interesting and well-prepared presentation on the US showing different types of landscapes across the country. Then she highlighted the areas that had Polish immigrants or showed signed of Polish culture. The children enjoyed this. Lori then shared her experiences by showcasing Hungary. It was like a travel tour and very thorough and well put together.

After lunch, Mary, Robert, Bobby, Ola, and Lori went to Treblinka to experience the memorial of the atrocities that occurred there. On the way, they were able to enjoy the quaint and natural beauty of the village and countryside of Poland.

Rita stayed at Reymontowka and took another bike tour of the surrounding area and the town of Kotun.

The evening gave us entertainment once again. This time it was Talent Show #2!! There is really so much talent here in the children of Poland and they do love to perform. After Talent Show last week many of the children brought back music or costumes from their homes and asked to do another talent show. It is good to see their strength and confidence.

Journal prepared and read by Rita on July 27

Monday, July 25, 2011

Message of the day: We cannot prepare a future for your youth, but we can prepare our youth for the future. (Attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt and shared by Lori)

Our day began with breakfast at 8:15 with the thought of the day (See above). In addition, we welcomed Lisa, a new team member. She is replacing Sherry who returned to the U.S. on Saturday.

Dorota reviewed our schedule for the rest of the week, including third and fourth period classes and evening activities. She also explained that the director for Reymontowka was offering a Tuesday or Thursday field trip option: a visit to Treblinka or to Siedlce, including a stop at the museum which houses an El Greco painting. The volunteers opted for a Tuesday trip to Treblinka.

During the fourth hour today, Beata and Sunil gave a presentation to the students, volunteers, and staff on the country of India. Over lunch, we discussed the morning activities that we each had with our students, with some volunteers reporting that students were somewhat more difficult to engage in the classes than last week, and one teacher indicating that her students were quite tired. General consensus was that this was related to excitement of the weekend and re-adjusting to camp routine.

After lunch, Dorota met with the volunteers to assess progress toward team goals, and overall we felt that we were meeting the goals that we established at the beginning of our experience. Dorota also distributed Global Volunteers’ forms for referral of prospective volunteers and the Post-Service Program Evaluation forms, asking that volunteers return them to her this week.

In the evening the students presented a fashion show and volunteers present were asked to suggest “best dressed” in the sport and evening wear categories for both boys and girls.

Journal prepared and read by Mary on July 26

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This weekend everyone went to various places. On Saturday, the children had a field trip to Kazimierz Dolny. Bobby, Robert, Mary, and Lori went with them. In Kazimierz Dolny all first visited a ravine that features a natural display of tree roots. The group next stopped in the Rynek for a short visit and then continued on for a boat ride on the Wisła.

On Sunday, Rita, Mary, and Lori had a wonderful time in Warsaw.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Message of the day: We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. (Attributed to Carl Sagan and shared by Bobby)

Wow! The week has gone by quickly. We taught our usual three classes, and were glad for a bit of sun that made it possible to do some teaching activities outdoors. During the fourth hour of class, Rita and Raghav provided a presentation about Canada. Later Rita shared that one of her students came up to her with leaves in hand, and said, “This is maple leaf.”

During the afternoon we had a bit of a chance to sort out teaching materials and re-organize the resource room a bit. Some of us sat on the patio with the Polish staff and enjoyed conversation.

About 4:30 we went to the dining room and had a snack. Then at 7:30, Dorota and her husband and Sunil returned to Reymontowka and took us all to the Bollywood/Hollywood restaurant. We all enjoyed our dinners very much, and everyone said it was the best Indian food they had ever eaten. Such a change made it really felt like we had taken a break from work.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Message of the day: Never say you are making the last journey (Attributed to Felix Zandman, a holocaust survivor. The quote is from his book, Never the Last Journey. )

Our day started with breakfast at 8:15 a.m. We heard the quote of the day (see above) and then Dorota reviewed our agenda for the day. She reminded us that the students will be presenting Polish Night this evening and that we are invited to stay afterward to meet with the camp director.

Some of the classroom work in the morning included “What’s the Action?” worksheets, the “Win, Lose, or Draw” activity, games such as Boggle and Scrabble that help students to learn vocabulary, making collages, and sentence building. The fourth lesson of the day the students participated in some lively dancing to English language songs that included “YMCA”, “Cotton-Eyed Joe”, and “The Chicken Dance.” Volunteers joined in the festivities.

After lunch, those volunteers that chose to do so went on a field trip to Sucha and Liw. At Sucha we toured a restored manor house which had been badly damaged during the Second World War. We also walked through some of the extensive grounds and were able to tour one of the additional 20 buildings at the site. The buildings were original structures, but re-located to Sucha. At Liw we visited the historic armor museum housed in a gothic castle, and some of the volunteers also climbed to the top of the castle tower.

After the evening meal the volunteers were treated to Polish Night. The students performed traditional Polish dances and songs. After the program the camp director and staff hosted a get-together featuring Polish specialty foods. Everyone had an opportunity to introduce themselves and to present some information about how and why they became involved at Reymontowka.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Message of the day: Men achieve certain greatness unawares, when working to another aim. (Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Our first teaching day had a rainy start, but it didn't dampen our ability to teach and to teach in an enjoyable manner for our students. It seems as though all of the teachers never fell short of activities, showing that there's more to learning English than lectures on important reminder due to the age groups and levels (varying beginners) we are teaching.

For instance, learning was seen through with games of Simon Says, Boggle, Mathematical Jenga, Uno, and Hangman-... Build-a-Person rather, and I Spy. Of course, there were word searches and hidden pictures. To further the learning experience for my own group, I had 5 hidden picture sets. With 10 students in my class, I made sure no two students near to each other received the same hidden picture puzzle. It took them a bit to realize that they didn't have 10 different puzzles. When they were finished with one, I had them say the items that were found, to check and correct pronunciation. They received the next puzzle, until all 5 were completed. A lesson by another teacher incorporated the use of collages, where students put together their interests and went into explanations, which eventually became one monster collage, entitled "Our World."

We have been practicing songs with our children and what this meant for today was performing the song in the last hour. The songs included, "Take me out to the Ball Game," "This Land is Your Land," "The Farmer and the Dell," and one that I'm partial to, "Older" by They Might Be Giants. I can't get across how proud I am of my own group of young students. If I had interaction with the others though, I know I'd feel the same. As I've seen their personal talents at the show they provided later on.

As I've said, this was Talent Show night for the student campers. It's a great feeling to see some of students' talents. Some of their talents included, singing, dancing (break-dancing), illusion, a roving art display, and classical piano from several of them.

And so, I await Polish night with great anticipation!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Message of the day: Why do I listen? Because I know what I know, but I want to know what he knows. (A life motto of Tom, husband of Sherry who shared this powerful thought with us.)

The morning began at 8:15 with the thought of the day and a short meeting where we decided each group would present a song at assembly on Wednesday. After songs were chosen breakfast was served and we left for our classes. During the 4th hour the students participated in songs presented through an animated DVD.

All volunteers and the Polish English teachers gathered at lunch and the consensus seemed to be that today was an easier day. It seemed that we were all better prepared and more relaxed now that we knew our students and their abilities.

At 2:00 we left for Siedlce where we met the deputy governor. She is a lovely lady and thanked us for our service. She gave a talk about Poland and Siedlce and offered us drinks and was very hospitable.

After 45 minutes we left and Kinga and Ola, two of the Polish English staff, took us on a walk through Siedlce where we saw the cathedral built built in 1905 and then the oldest church in Siedlce, along with some more historic buildings.
We ended our tour at the Bollywood Hollywood Indian restaurant which is owned by Sunil and Beata who are Polish English teachers for this camp and also the aunt and uncle of Raghav.

Back for dinner, class prep and initiation of the campers here for the first time. While waiting for the initiation challenges to be prepared by the camp counselors, the students sang Kocham Cie Polsko. This included a dance performance by some of the boys. Those who are first campers then took a blindfolded walk through an obstacle course, then had to kiss the ring of the queen, and then take a sip of raspberry juice.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Message of the day: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. (Attributed to Winston Churchill)

The first day was filled with anticipation and apprehension, but was very successful and rewarding. All the groups began with 'getting to know you' activities. We then proceeded to evaluate our students' knowledge level. There were exercises and games played to review letters, words, numbers, time, shapes, objects and directions. Two groups learned how to play Frisbee.

After lunch several volunteers went to the nearby village of Kotuñ, visited stores, and stopped at a café for a refreshing drink. Afterwards, Robert was energetic and ran 5K. Rita remained at camp and played tennis with the girls and swam.

In the evening, the volunteers watched the students practice and perform an inspirational song, The Book is Closed, about Pope John Paul II, led by the camp director. They also prepared to present a traditional Polish dance for their Polish evening.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our team began gathering from several locations in Poland. Rita and Robert left Zakopane with their Zakopane students who were returning to northeast Poland and arrived at Reymontowka about 4:30 PM. Meanwhile, Mary got to Warsaw a few minutes after 2 PM after having problems getting out of Minnesota due to thunderstorms. The Reymontowka van then collected Sherry, Bobby, and Lori. We slowly made our way to Reymontowka, delayed primarily by various road construction projects.

We all met each other at the dining table, each of us having a meal that fit our needs for our day’s travel. We also watched the festivities associated with a wedding that was taking place at Reymontowka After the evening meal had concluded Lori walked the volunteers around the Reymontowka grounds. We all retired to our rooms hearing the music playing from the wedding reception.

Sunday, July 17

We gathered for breakfast at 8:30. Following this delightful meal and discussions about the experiences of sleeping or not sleeping through the wedding reception, we went to the work room to begin the orientation experience.

Dorota began the meeting by describing the history of Global Volunteers work in Poland and sharing information about the host organization for the language camp. Next the team members reviewed Global Volunteer guidelines related to their service. Dorota then introduced the journal and thought for the day assignments. Robert provided an example from a Mark Twain quote related to how traveling stops bigotry and prejudice. Dorota also explained the service time logs.

The group next worked on establishing team goals and ended with four:
 To help camper students develop their English language skills;
 To exchange cultures;
 To have fun; and
 To grow as a teacher.

The group next worked on identifying the characteristics of an effective team, namely:
Respect, Cooperation, Offering praise, Sense of humor, Trying new things, Sharing, Flexibility, Establishing clear roles when doing joint classes; Patience, Empathy, Trust, Voicing concerns, Helpful, Considerate, Humility, Kindness, Sincere, Generosity, and Equal responsibility.

The group next identified team member skills and discussed teaching materials brought by members. Dorota provided a handout, Conversational English Teaching Notes. Dorota also provided an orientation to the wealth of teaching materials that have been provided by former Global Volunteers, now available in the Reymontowka work room.

Now the group adjourned and two team members went to Sunday Mass at the church in Źeliszew Duży. At 1:30 we all gathered for obiad. After the meal, Dorota provided a Polish language lesson.

At 3:30 we gathered in the tent with the camper students and all language camp staff, including the Global Volunteers introduced themselves to the students. The camper/students were interviewed to assess their English skills. At 6 PM we all again gathered in the tent and the students were placed into groups and then met briefly with their English teacher.

All then went to kolacja. Afterwards the work room was very busy with all the teachers planning their first day of classes, but some went outdoors for this task as the work room was quite warm.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Those of us fortunate enough to sleep in heard only the quiet rumble of suitcase wheels early in the morning. It was quite amazing that so many people could leave so very quietly.

When Najale and Lori went to breakfast at the usual 8:15 time, Najale thought they had come early because no one was there; she had forgotten nearly everyone else had left. They were surprised to find two campers – boys who must be brothers – that relationship seems to have gotten right past us. The boys explained they were waiting for their parents to arrive in Zakopane. Then they were going to Lake Balaton in Hungry, then to Budapest, and then back to Krakow before returning to the Siedlce area. They explained all of this in very good English!

At 9 AM, Lori and Najale departed with Pani Dyrektor for Krakow, along with another of the Polish teachers who was keeping Teresa company on the long trip back to Siedlce. Lori sent a text to Dorota saying they were on their way to Krakow and received a message back saying all the other volunteers had arrived at the Krakow airport as planned.

As Sylvia noted in an earlier entry: All’s Well that Ends Well.

Friday, July 8

Message of the day
: Find out the truth behind the sound bite and then go home and spread the word. Effective volunteers often end up making a bigger difference back home. Attributed to Pam Grout, author of 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life.

The day began with sunshine, but also a fierce wind. We gathered for the morning meeting not knowing exactly what the next hour would bring. However, the mountain guide arrived and said a climb of Giewont could be done. About 15 campers left for the mountain climb. Frank and Lori provided English language activities for the remaining campers – Taboo, Apples to Apples, and card games.

The Giewont climbers returned about 4 PM, happy with their accomplishment. They reported only be sprinkled on a couple of times by the rain. However, in the late afternoon the heavens again let loose with rain and sharp thunder and lightning.

We gathered at 7:15 P.M. in the work room for the final program. The program began with Pani Dryktor expressing thanks for the work of the volunteers and also saluting the students for their hard work and excellent behavior. The presentations opened with Tom’s group singing the song, You are my Sunshine. Next Lori’s group said a popular song by the Australian performer, Lenka. This was followed by Frank’s group whose presentation included the song, So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You. Jackie and David’s group sang two songs, one appropriately called I Love the Mountains, and then did the Hokey-Pokey. Sylvia’s group closed with We Will, We will Rock You. Each volunteer also expressed thanks for the opportunity to work with the students.
The program closed with three students thanking the volunteers for their English classes and thanking the Polish teachers for their work in creating the recreational activities.

The Polish teachers had planned to show a collection of photos, but experienced technical difficulty with the projector. Many gathered around the computer to see the artful work of Anita, one of the Polish teachers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Message of the day: If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right. Attributed to Henry Ford.

The sun is shining! Oh Happy Day! Today was the first day we awakened to a clear, sunny day. Seems hard to believe, but it’s true.

The volunteers worked with their regular assigned groups the first two hours. Then we exchanged students for the second two hours. We have Jackie to thank for working out the logistics to make the exchange go smoothly.

Because it was a sunny day the students went hiking on Gęsia Szyja (journal editor was told this means goose neck!). They returned around 19:00, tired but happy with the opportunity to have stretched their legs.

After supper it began to rain again, so the bonfire activities were moved inside to the work room. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Someone played the guitar while a group a girls sang along. Sausages were roasted over an open fire, s’mores were constructed and consumed with delight, after searing the marshmallows, of course. It was a beautiful ending to a day that began with sunshine.

Congratulations to the entire group—teachers, volunteers, and students—for not letting Mother Nature dampen our spirits during the rainy two weeks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Message of day: Give a man a fish and he is fed for one day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a life time (Attributed by some as a Chinese proverb and by others to Anonymous).

Our morning meeting began at 8 AM. Sylvia gave an inspirational quote that most thought came from the Old Testament, but it was later discovered it was actually an old Chinese proverb.

It was decided that there would an exchange of classes for the last hour of the morning. All went well.

Lunch was served at the usual 1 PM time. Afterwards, there was a plan that some campers would go to the aqua park and bowling alley. (Later when speaking with students, the journal editor found no one did this and that some students instead engaged in a ping-pong tournament.)
Dorota arrived with some of the volunteers from the other summer camp about 3 PM. Some of our teaching volunteers had the opportunity to meet with them.

Around 5 PM a tour guide gave a wonderful 3-D video presentation about the Tatra Mountains to the students, teachers, and volunteers. It was about the flora and fauna of the area.
We had our traditional Polish meal at 6:30 PM.

At 7 we gathered for a game of Bingo. It was the first time some of the students had ever played and they really had a great time.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Message of the Day: Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. Composed and contributed by Najalé

On Monday morning we were back to teaching our classes. Four hours went by quickly.

In the afternoon the student campers went to walk in Dolina Koscieliska. However, the rain came again and the hike was shortened. The bus returned the students to the old cemetery in Zakopane. Then they walked back to Wanta.

Meanwhile the volunteers were busy planning American Night. They also met with Dorota and Pani Dyrektor to learn about plans for the remainder of the week.

In the evening the volunteers provided a Fourth of July show. We shared information about states such as California and Arkansas, showed a video about Barack Obama, and surprised the campers with a cake.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Another cool and rainy morning dawned in Zakopane. Some of the students went to church. About mid-morning some students went to the workroom and played English language word games with Lori. They had asked for this explaining they “did not want to waste their time at camp.”
In the mid-afternoon the campers headed off to climb Gubałówka and enjoyed time on the mountain top. They came down via the ski lift.

The volunteers who had spent the weekend in Krakow all returned safely and reported many adventures during their time there. And even reported they had seen sunshine in Krakow on Saturday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Message of the day: Smile and the world smiles back with you. (A Japanese Zen saying).

During breakfast, which was at 7:15 in preparation for our trip to Krakow, Jackie offered the message of the day (See above). David read his long and interesting entry about the long and interesting day before. The bus left almost on schedule at 7:55 and we arrived in Krakow at 10:10. It took almost as long to get across the city to the parking lot as it took to get from Zakopane to Krakow! Along with the everyday Krakow traffic, this weekend concludes the Jewish Culture Festival, the biggest in Poland, so more than the usual number of visitors is crowding the streets.

After a brief stop for functional necessities, we began our tour. Krakow dates back to the 4th century – we heard much about it from our students on the Polish night. It is the most important Polish city to survive the war and Community era intact, and it was on the first UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978. Our tour of Krakow included the Main Rynek Square and environs in the Old Town --- St. Mary’s Cathedral, with its beautiful stained windows and altar – but we were not permitted to enter the sanctuary because at that time of our visit the church “is open only for praying.” We heard and saw the bugler who toots his horn hourly from the top of the Cathedral tower. We also visited the “Cloth Hall, “a shopping area which consists of hundreds of booths selling jewelry, chess sets, trinkets, slippers, and everything in between.

We went to the Rynek Underground Museum, which opened in September, 2010. Archeological digs uncovered much of what is seen here. The combination of modern technology (for example, interactive screens and a 3-D movie of Poland history) and original artifacts makes for a fascinating display. The museum is “laid out as a journey in time” and it would take many hours of observing and studying to do it justice.

Walking about we also saw the monument to the Grunwald victory (our street name in Zakopane), one of the greatest battles in Medieval Europe between Poland/Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights in 1410. The monument was destroyed by the Nazis in World War II (for Poland/Lithuania won the battle) and was reproduced in 1976. We also saw the Barbikan, a large brick structure which was added to the city’s defenses in the late 15th century as part of the medieval fortification of Krakow.

In our effort to come with a July 4th program that will not embarrass us, David had the idea to get help from the U.S. Consulate in Krakow. We all followed up on that and left the consulate with lots of pamphlets, brochures, and American flags.

We walked back to the bus, got our bags, and parted company—Frank and Spencer to Hotel Polonia, Sylvia and Tom to Unicus Hotel, and David and Jackie to Grand Hotel.
I vowed to teach the students the song: “Rain, rain go away, little Jackie wants to play.”
After settling in at our hotel, we Marlins went to partake in the Jewish Festival. First we attended a lecture by a prominent American scholar, Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum, headquartered in Philadelphia. His topic was “Europe or Eurabia: Islam and the continent’s future.” His bio on Wikipedia makes note of his attendance at the age of 4 at the Harvard preschool. It doesn’t make note that Jackie Marlin was his teacher – but I was!
We visited the Jewish Community Center which was hosting a Shabbat dinner for 250 persons. We were too late – they were all filled up.

We then attended a concert by Tzuker-Zis, a U.S. group that plays traditional Jewish music, sometimes in a not-so-traditional manner. There was a vocalist, a bass, a guitar, an accordion, a trumpet, and key board. The concert was very spirited, standing room only, very enthusiastic audience in a beautiful synagogue.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Message of the day: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. (Attributed to Thomas H. Palmer, writing in an 1840 Teacher’s Manual).

The morning meeting with Dorota was the beginning of an incredibly eventful day. We noted that this was the 100th birthday of Czesław Milosz, a noted Polish prose and poetry writer.

In the afternoon, after 4 hours of morning English class, we – volunteers and students—all piled into the bus and stopped first at the Natural Science Museum at Tatra National Park. The museum contains exhibits representing the culture, animal life, and environmental aspects of the Park. The Tatra Mountain National Park borders Slovakia and is visited by 3 million tourists each year. The museum, on the day of our visit, also displayed objects associated with the lives of Witold Radwanski and his wife, Zofia Radwanska. We also watched films about the Park for about 30 minutes.

We then traveled to ChochoŁόw. While driving there, one of the Prus teachers, whose special area is history, explained this village is famous for its actions in the 1846 uprising. In other areas of Poland, this uprising featured battles between Polish peasants and Polish noblemen. However, a wise priest in ChochoŁόw advocated that all the Polish people stand together, so instead here, the Polish attacked the police presence of the ruling Austrian empire. In ChochoŁόw we visited a wood carver and the museum he maintains to show a typical peasant’s life from the late 19th or early 20th century.

Returning to Zakopane we stopped at the beautiful church built by the people of Zakopane to give thanks for the saving of Pope John Paul at the time of a 1981 assassination attempt. Around this inspiration church and down the hill is the altar used when the Pope said a Mass on top of the ski jump in Zakopane.

This bus trip gave us another view of the distinct Zakopane architectural style that is admired around the world. It resembles the Swiss chalet. Some characteristics are the wooden plank outer walls or log cabin style that rises sharply angled to peaked roofs to permit rain, sleet, and snow to be removed. Many windows are triangular, roofs are frequently tile, and a widow’s peak is often seen.

The evening was Polish Day, entirely presented by the 25 students associated with Prus High School in Siedlce. It was funny, informative, and brilliantly executed. It created a standard that we volunteers cannot match on July 4, but we’ll try.

The students began the program by taking us on “taxi rides” through the TriCities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot. One passenger, Lech Walęsa, tried to get out of paying his taxi fare. Then we were taken for taxis tours also in Warsaw and finally Krakow.

The evening ended with a the presentation of an anniversary ice cream cake for the Marlins for their 50th wedding anniversary—and for which David, the writer of this journal, reports they are touched and grateful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Message of the day: Do not judge another until you have walked in those shoes (a modern version of an old indigenous saying).

The team is working very well together, sharing ideas and skills, which is an important action if we are to have a successful language camp for everyone. The morning was spent working to improve our students’ language skills by every means possible. We use games, projects, songs, and questions. You are only limited by your imagination.

The students today actually requested two more hours of teaching time from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. This time we switched students. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the other students and learn about them.

After a light supper, we had our evening meeting with Dorota. We made some plans for our Fourth of July celebration. We now retire to our rooms to prepare for Thursday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Message of the day: I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome in trying to succeed. (Attributed to Booker T. Washington from his book, Up from Slavery: An Autobiography ;)

The volunteers met with Dorota at 7:50 in the meeting room. Sylvia began with the message of the day (see above). Dorota then went over the plan for today.

We enjoyed breakfast in the dining room at 8 AM. We began settling into our new routines. The volunteers taught their taught classes and some of them shared their ideas about successful strategies as they met in the hallways during the 15 minute breaks. We all got to know our students a little better.

Our mid-day meal was served as usual at 1 PM. Many of the students were delighted to see the weather to be rainy as their challenging hike had been canceled. Spencer and Najalé accompanied some of the students for a portion of the afternoon at the indoor water park. Others chose to remain at the Wanta. The volunteers spent their afternoon planning tomorrow’s lessons.

We met again at 6:30 PM for our last delicious Polish cuisine of the day.
We relocated to the meeting room at 19:05. We discussed what each of us did in our morning classes and picked up some great ideas from each other for future use. Dorota talked about the plans for our field trip with the students to Krakow on Friday.

The meeting adjourned about 20:15 PM. Some of the volunteers decided afterwards to support one of the local business establishments and immersed themselves in a little Polish culture and tradition.
“All’s well that ends well” and the day did indeed end well!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Message of the day: If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

It was a dark and gloomy morning when the bright, perky, and cheerful Global Volunteers arrived for the 7:45 AM meeting. After the inspirational thought and the hearing the journal to remind us of the events of Saturday and Sunday we headed for breakfast. At 9:00 the volunteers dispersed to the first offered classes of this session. The time, 4 hours, flew by. During class breaks we could hear Row, Row, Row Your Boat being sung by some of the students in the hotel lobby. They had just learned that song that morning and were already singing it in a round.
For obiad we had pickle soup, beets, penne pasta, and pork loin. A glass of kompot topped off the meal.

After this meal most of the young headed again to a hiking trail. Right up with the first climbers were David and Jackie, the oldest of our volunteers.

After a supper of delicious pierogi accompanied by the ubiquitous tomato, we met for a debriefing session. We shared information about activities and how well they worked. A very useful observation from one student was: Talk less, and let us do more talking. With that advice ringing in our heads, our first day of classes came to an end. Bring on tomorrow.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our team assembled at the Krakow Airport on Saturday when 6 volunteers joined the bus from Siedlce bringing the campers, the Polish staff, two volunteers, and of course, Dorota, the Team Leader. We arrived in Zakopane about 5:30 PM, quickly dropped luggage in our rooms and then gathered in the dining room for kolacja. We sang Sto Lat and congratulated two volunteers, David and Jackie, who were observing their 50th wedding anniversary! After kolacja we gathered in the work room area and introduced ourselves, culminating with a name game when we each named each other. Most volunteers were ready for an early evening sleep as they were dealing with jet lag.
After a great Polish breakfast on Sunday morning we all gathered again in the work room. Dorota provided the announcements of the day. We reviewed health and safety concerns and then reviewed the Global Volunteer principles.
Next we developed four team goals:
-To improve the English language skills of the students;
-To learn more about Polish culture and language;
-To build bridges; and
- To improve ourselves.
We identified characteristics of an effective team:
Sense of humor
Self control
Appreciation of individuals’ skills
Team work
At this point we received a very nice interruption when the reception staff for the hotel announced that one of our team members had finally received her luggage that had been missing for three days.
We continued our work by briefly discussing the first day classes. Dorota reported that the Polish staff would like us to move the teenagers around to different groups. Also the staff would like us to put together groups or otherwise mix students so that they can hear several versions of the American accent.
Dorota provided a Polish language lesson, and then we adjourned for obiad.
In the afternoon, some volunteers stayed in the city and did a walking trip to the bus office to purchase tickets for returning from Krakow on the following Sunday and two went to afternoon Sunday Mass. The students and four volunteers went hiking in Dolina ChochoŁόw.

At 8 PM we gathered again in the work room. Pani Dyrektor introduced herself again and explained her role at the camp. The other teachers accompanying the students also introduced themselves and then we volunteers also introduced ourselves. Volunteers asked questions about the Prus High School and the students there and asked for advice about helping the students.
Then each volunteer took the chance of pronouncing the student names in Polish who would be a member of their class, and each teacher met with their class for a few minutes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


New Service Adventures in Education, Childcare and Labor Available

A Season of New Beginnings in Romania and we want you to be a part of it all.

If your passion lies in serving at-risk youth, working with your hands, or if it's teaching that inspires you, we now have wonderful new opportunities for you to contribute in Romania. We have worked at the Tutova Children's Clinic since 1999 however in recent weeks, that Clinic has closed, and the children were relocated to new facilities. We now have the opportunity to help care for some of those same children at our new work sites, along with many more children needing your support. While we regret the Romanian government's decision to transform Tutova Hospital and Children's Clinic into a senior center, we were heartened by invitations from other child-focused community partners enabling us to serve the broader Barlad community.

One Door Closes...Others Open

Residents and staff of The Elena Farago Center in Barlad await Global Volunteers teams.

You'll be one of the first volunteers serving these new community partners. With that in mind, I'd like to ask you to do two things. First, please let me know which of the following volunteer options appeal to you the most. Second, because of the wide variety of new service opportunities, I ask that you invite others to join you on your service program as we establish our new relationships. Here's how you and your friends and companions can contribute:

First, Dr. Magdalena Cozma, director of Barlad's St. Nicholas Children's Hospital , has invited Global Volunteers to continue our work with at-risk children at her hospital. This is essentially the same work assignment as at Tutova -- holding, feeding and entertaining babies who need care. (As is so often the case, "when one door closes another one opens,"and some of the babies and toddlers on the other side of that door are from Tutova -- still counting on your love.) The children don't care that the door is different, just that you come through it!

Year-round service opportunities at George Tutoveanu School in Barlad. Volunteers are needed to teach conversational English to primary and middle school students during the school year and to middle and senior high students at English language summer camps. The focus is on conversation - visiting about everyday subjects and real-life situations so the students can increase their vocabulary and practice English language skills. While you'll teach in the classrooms, during the summer camps students also enjoy taking volunteers out to show them highlights of their city, such as museums, live theater, zoo, and public garden -- providing additional opportunities to interact while speaking English. This is a great new opportunity for your companions who may not be interested in caregiving assignments.

Third, if you enjoy working with your hands - repairing, painting and renovating buildings -- you're needed to help improve apartments at the Elena Farago Center. This is a rewarding opportunity to work alongside some of the residents and the local carpenters and handymen to make these homes more livable. What's more, we hope to establish a community garden project as our new partnerships progress so students and young adults can join the worldwide movement to understand and practice better nutrition choices.

You can also offer psychosocial support to teens and young adults for all our part of your volunteer assignment. The Elena Farago Center in Barlad cares for some 40 teens and young adults from age 12 to mid-20s. (Photo on top) Most of the residents are orphans, abused children, or from families too poor to care for them. About 10 percent have mental disabilities, and 20 percent are HIV positive or have AIDS, mostly contracted from blood transfusions. The residents live together in apartments, three to five per unit, with guidance from local staff. This is a great opportunity to help young boys and girls who are preparing for a productive and independent life. Initially, volunteers will befriend the residents by working with them on arts and craft projects, teaching how to cook nutritious meals, helping with homework, communicating in English, playing sports and more. We'll also tutor teens and young adults in conversational English at the Elena Farago Center, although teaching English will not be a full-time assignment at this facility.

Finally, if you have experience or interest in assisting children with autism and/or Down syndrome, you can serve at Barlad Center for Children with Disabilities. This is a multi-unit complex that cares for children with mental disabilities as well as those who are blind and deaf. This project can be a full-time or secondary project, splitting your work on one of the above primary projects.

We're very encouraged by these new service partnerships with local Romanian agencies and the expanded opportunities to engage volunteers in serving Romanian children. Your contribution now is more important than ever. Please allow me to answer your questions and fill you in with additional details on your upcoming service program. Again, we'd greatly appreciate you referring your friends and family members to serve with you or on other 2011 Romania service programs. Everyone makes a significant difference in this time of new beginnings on our Romania service program!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Former Volunteer Posts AMAZING YouTube Videos!!

We at Global Volunteers are privileged to work with so many wonderful volunteers, partners, and supporters each and every day.

Last week, one particular volunteer, Graham, truly knocked our socks off when he shared a 9-part video series he had created about Global Volunteers and posted on YouTube!! These videos feature the travels and experiences of numerous Global Volunteers (particularly one tight-knit group from New Jersey) and we welcome you to take a look at these exceptional videos by using the link below.

Thank you, Graham!! And for the rest of you... ENJOY!!

Global Volunteer Retrospective Video (Poland):

Monday, February 28, 2011

Six Months Since Siedlce... Feels Like Yesterday!

With spring right around the corner, I realize it has already been many months - nearly half a year, in fact - since my service in Poland. While many days and weeks have passed, I think about my experience often - most often the wonderful people of the region.

The staff at the manor house could not have been more welcoming, and the teachers and school administrators were so grateful for our English instruction that we felt bound to succeed! And then there were the students... These bright individuals were the reason we went to volunteer and surely the reason so many volunteers return time and time again. Their determination to learn and maximize their educational potential is awe inspiring!!

Please join me in viewing a few photos below, as I reflect on a wonderful and memorable time in my life:

Thank you for sharing in my reflection, and please feel free to contact us at anytime if you might be interested in volunteering in Poland in 2011!!


Stephanie Peterson
Global Volunteers Marketing & Communications Manager

Friday, February 4, 2011

Repeat Poland Volunteer Featured in Community Magazine!

Volunteer Judy of Woodbury, Minnesota was recently featured in her community's magazine, highlighting her several Global Volunteers service program including two in Poland!

Click here to read the entire article, or read below to learn more about her experiences!

Woodbury Magazine Article

Retired science teacher Judy T. of Woodbury decided to try a volunteer trip in 1997 for the opportunity to travel, use her teaching skills and do something worthwhile. Trepka has taken six two-week trips, serving in Greece, Romania, Spain, Hungary and Poland (twice). “In Crete, Greece I helped restaurant and hotel workers with conversational English skills, and in Iasi, Romania and Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary I taught English to students,” Judy says. “On my two trips to Poland, I helped business professionals improve their English skills as well as a retired University of Warsaw professor recovering from a stroke who had lost his English speaking skills. I worked with him for two weeks, 5-6 hours a day, and by the end he could speak English again. The Polish students told me ‘It’s a miracle, and his Polish is better too!’”

Judy traveled with Global Volunteers, a St. Paul-based organization supporting more than 100 host communities through year-round volunteer service, including caring for at-risk children, teaching conversational English skills, assisting local health education efforts and completing a wide array of local projects including painting, landscaping, building playgrounds and improving public works. “As is often the case with these programs, you get more than you give,” says Judy. “And you’ll learn more about a country and its people than you will as a casual tourist. You’re expected to put in at least a 40-hour volunteer week, but the weekends are free for exploring lovely out-of-the-way places that organized tours never get to.”

Some highlights for Judy: seeing local World War II statues throughout Crete’s small villages, and enjoying paella at a restaurant in Rota, Spain in late November, “a magical time when every business and institution brought out unique, exquisitely beautiful nativity scenes,” she says. But her true highlights were the cultural, human experiences gained through volunteering.

“In Hungary, the students would immediately rise and remain standing when I until I told them they could sit down; I had never experienced that as a teacher before,” says Judy. “The food in Reymontowka, Poland was cooked with fresh produce plus milk and meat from the three-generation farm next door. I’ve never had a drink I enjoyed more than the fresh black current nectar served at breakfast.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poland Volunteer featured in AP Article!!

Poland volunteer Rob Kendig was recently featured in an AP article entitled, 'Retirement-age volunteers mix altruism with travel' (by Dave Carpenter). We are thrilled to have Rob featured and sharing a bit about his wonderful experience with the entire nation!!

Here is a taste of the article:

"Rob Kendig, 66, of Denver, characterizes his recent three-week experience in Siedlce, Poland, as an unpaid working vacation. He taught conversational English to two classes of middle-school students every afternoon and loved every minute of it.

The retired dentist spent $2,600 on the Global Volunteers program plus another $1,100 for airfare. He considered the expenditure something of a philanthropic gift. But he also wanted to explore teaching as a possible second career, so he found it gratifying on multiple levels.

'The Polish children were adorable and appreciative,' he says. 'Best of all, there was real work to do and the job was clear-cut.'

About 30 percent of the group's 2,000-plus volunteers a year are over 60, according to Michele Gran, who co-founded Global Volunteers in 1984. Several who participated in the early years are now returning with their adult children and grandchildren, she says.

The oldest volunteer, age 92, spent two weeks teaching English in Ghana last year and is considering going to the Cook Islands with the group in 2011."

Click on the following link to see Rob's photo, quotes, and read the whole article!!

Thank you, Rob (below, far right), for your assistance in garnering greater interest in our Poland program!!