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.