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.”