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.