Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gratitude


Halloween morning--no goblins in sight.  The team's day got off without a hitch; Rene and Carlene to their morning classes and Margo, Maureen, Marilyn and Teala on a quick tour and errands with Dorota in Siedlce. 

The afternoon team had shopping to do for a Halloween celebration with their students in the evening.  While out, Dorota took us to see the old town hall, University buildings, old church, library, Mayor's office, cemetery and other points of interest in her hometown.  We also learned the cultural lesson that in Poland, mums are only for the dead.

For most of the team, today was the last day of classes at the schools.  Lessons were given and goodbyes shared.  The afternoon volunteers were presented beautiful books on Poland; though gratitude and friendship was felt by all.


At the afternoon team's second school, volunteers conducted traditional classroom lessons, then all joined together with their students for a Farewell Halloween Celebration.  American party games where organized by the volunteers, food and traditional Polish treats were brought by the kids and the students enjoyed the festivities with much festivity and laughter.

Again, much gratitude was expressed by students, teachers and volunteers who --through simply sharing our lives, language and experiences-- learned volumes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nearing the End


We awoke to a fresh blanket of snow.  The tennis courts are now hidden and the pond has several layers of ice.  Cars left out overnight were also covered with snow.  The trees that were a brilliant red and gold are now looking bare.

The team gathered for breakfast and message of the day.  Dorota informed us of the events for the remainder of the week. Tomorrow she is taking Marilyn, Margo, Teala and Maureen on a tour of Siedlce.  Tomorrow is also the last day classes for four of the volunteers.  Anna, the teacher, at Siedlce Middle School has requested that the volunteers do something special for Halloween.  Some games were discussed.

Rene and Carlene left for their classes and Dorota took Marilyn to her physical therapy appointment. Margo, Teala and Maureen prepared lessons for their classes.  The remainder of the day was business as usual.  The team gathered for a nice dinner, good conversation and preparation for the next day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Everything Going Well



We all woke up to a brisk morning.  Snow still covered the ground and foliage.    It was cold outside.   A nice breakfast was enjoyed with conversation.   After breakfast, Rene and Carlene left for their schools.  Margo, Maureen and Teala left after lunch for their schools.   Marilyn stayed behind at the direction of the therapist treating her back.
All classes went well even though we had several power outages at the Home.  Dorota, as usual, saw that everything was going well.  We gathered at dinner for another fine Polish meal and good conversation.  Most of the team retired below the dining room for more lesson planning.  We saw a light snow beginning later in the evening and went to bed wondering how much whiter the countryside would be in the morning.

 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Plans


After a night of wind and rain Friday dawned a beautiful sunny morning. At breakfast Carol and Kathie said their farewells to our team. They were leaving for home on Saturday. Kathie invited the team to stay with her if the Twins ever play in the world series. Our California group Giants are 3 and 0 in the World Series.

 

On Friday Carlene was having dinner with one of her students and his family. Marilyn, Teala, Margo and Maureen took off for a weekend in Warsaw after their last class. Once more our dedicated team leader, Dorota, saved the day when the four arrived to the train station late. She saw to it that we got our round trip tickets, boarded our train with our luggage and headed off for an adventurous weekend.

 

On Saturday everyone woke up to the first snow fall of the season. As destiny would have it the volunteers were reunited in the Warsaw mall. On Sunday everyone met for dinner telling all their fun experiences.

Classes


Today was a crisp, yet wet, October day.

The team began the day with a breakfast of 'blinkies" and the usual Polish breakfast bevy of veggies, meats, fruits and breads.

The message of the day was read followed by the previous days' journal.  Dorota discussed the team assignments-including likely student changes for the Siedlce group.

Discussion at breakfast relayed various invitations from students and their families to volunteers for tea or a meal tonight or later this week.  Proof positive of welcoming and gratitude by the community.

The morning group left as usual for their assignments and the afternoon group returned to their lesson preparation or sick bay rest in Marilyn & Teala's case.

Upon return, student assignment changes for the afternoon team appeared to be successful for both volunteers and their classes--and likely Dorota as well.

All of the ladies returned to Reymontowka for a dinner of revered potato latkes with a creamy mushroom sauce.  Renee was absent--instead dining with a new school acquaintance.  Conversations of the night reminisced of team travels, communication technologies and beloved pets...all set to the tune of new Reymontowka arrivals at the next table enjoying dinner and a bottle of Poland's clear courage.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Day


Today we woke up to sunshine.  After two foggy days, it was a welcomed sight.  For breakfast we were treated to a warm egg dish.  After some conversation the volunteers headed off to their assignments or to prepare their lessons for their assignments.  Carol did individual tutoring; and, Carlene and Rene went to a high school for a question and answer session. Teala remained in sick bay.  For the rest of us, it was business as usual.  The volunteers continue with their positive attitudes willing to face their challenges of the day.

 

After a long day we gathered for another delicious meal of pizza and cold cuts.  The volunteers enjoyed some conversation and then retired early or prepared lessons for the next day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Challenging Adventure


After a delicious breakfast of Polish crepes with ricotta cheese and many other treats, the team left for their assignments.  Teala and Carol stayed behind as both were under the weather.  Margo, Maureen and Marilyn left before lunch for their assignments in Siedlce.  They enjoyed the beautiful autumn scenery along the way.

 

While the sun tried to appear in the morning, the fog soon took over.  Winter is definitely on the way.

 

The first school in Siedlce greeted the volunteers rambunctiously which was encouraging for the second day of school.  The volunteers ate lunch between classes at the school with the regular English teacher.  At the second school in Siedlce the classes competed with a school dance, but the students remained attentive to their lessons.

 

We all joined together for a nice dinner with conversation about our teaching days.  Dorota, our tireless leader, joined us for tea with her husband.

 

Tomorrow will be another challenging adventure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Volunteers


breakfast- Marilyn, Teala, Margo and Maureen. After breakfast some of us headed out to our normal Monday school assignment. The newly arrived volunteers would be heading to class after lunch. The new volunteers would be teaching younger students as well but with a higher concentration of their time would be focused on the middle school in Siedlce. The fog was intense and suggested a rather damp day.

 

After our first class, the first grade students participated in a pledge program introducing them to their first grade. They sang their national song along with recitation of poems. After the program parents and teachers were invited to participate in tea, coffee and cake.

 

After lunch Dorota reviewed our earlier developed goals and asked the group if we felt we are moving in the right direction. The consensus was yes.

 

The group gathered for supper. Some of the members address discipline problems bring experienced in their classrooms or as we know “let’s get the new teacher”. Also some of the new members were not feeling well and decided to retire early. Carol continues to be on the mend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Smaller Classes


We started our day as usual with the morning meeting.  I gave the thought of the day:

“All innovation is borrowed; we learn from each other.”  Mark Walther, Professor, St. Cloud College, Minnesota.  Carlene read the journal of yesterday’s activities. At this morning meeting we talked about the arrangements for our weekend trip; some of us are going to Krakow.

 

On our drive to school we saw fog in the low-lying fields.  The sky was blue with the comforting Polish sun. 

 

My morning classes were small since some of the children were on a field trip.  The smaller classes suit me just fine because I can spend more time with each student. 

 

After lunch back at the manor I was picked up by a student’s father for our drive to the Skorzec school for my two extra curriculum tutoring classes.  I enjoy this afternoon drive through the countryside when Paulina or Dorota are driving.  They speak English well and I am learning much about Poland from them both. 

 

Dinner as usual was pleasant with very fine food (the chef is excellent) and good conversation. 

 

We all spend a great deal of time in the Poland Global Volunteers resource room during breaks between classes and tutoring.  There is a wide range of material there.

Kathie Anderson

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Teacher Recognition Day


We met in the dining room once again at 7 am to begin our day.  The inspirational message was presented by Carlene.  Rene read the journal report from the previous day.  Another delicious breakfast was served, our favorite so far.  It consisted of fried eggs nestled in a cupcake like container of Canadian bacon with the usual accompaniments; fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh breads, cereal, fresh juice, coffee, tea and milk. 

 

Off to school at 8:00, only one class today, it is Teacher Recognition Day.  Celebration at 9 am.  School children performed, directed by Pani Director.  During the program, all teachers, including visiting volunteers from America, received long-stemmed roses, decorated with ribbons.  An appreciation letter was read by one of the parents of the students.  Tears welled up in the volunteers eyes.  It was a very moving experience.  Fun continued, ending the celebration with dancing by the students and volunteers.  Pictures were taken during the program, but nothing can be captured on camera regarding the feelings that were felt inside.  One volunteer said it best “we will always keep that feeling in our hearts”.

 

Back to Reymontowka for lunch and some free time before tutoring classes resume in late afternoon.  

Free time today included walks and reading and preparing for upcoming tutoring sessions.

 

Weather today is mild with the sun continuing to shine each day.  Approximately 13 Celsius,

56 degrees Fahrenheit.  Perfect October weather!

 

 
 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Day of Teaching


Rene brought the inspiration for the day. He observed the parishioners at the mass on Sunday and their strong engagement in the service and strong expressions of faith. After breakfast we each headed off to our first day of classes escorted by one of the teachers. I sense that some of us entered our assignment with a certain amount of apprehension and nervousness. However those feelings some dissipated when we entered the school. We were received with warm and welcoming greetings. Many of the students went out of their way to say “welcome”. After a brief welcoming and tea in the faculty room, we proceeded to our respective class rooms.

 

An unexpected outcome is that we all had small classes which enabled us to devote the individual attention required. For the youngest students, their command of the English language was nearly nonexistent. It will be important that we continue to stress the fundamentals through repetition especially with the young children. Many were anxious to participate while others held back. Obviously we were strangers in their class room and some surely did not want to expose their lack of understanding to this new language. However we plowed on with an introduction to greetings and welcoming exercises. Some of us used bingo games and puzzles as a way of introduction.

 

Some of us felt drained from the day of teaching. However there seem to be consensus that the first day was exhilarating, the children and adults fun loving, pleasant eager to learn, and welcoming. I sensed that we all feel more confident after the first day and that a rapport had been established with both the children and adults. Dorota was most helpful in preparing our first lessons. Especially since we do not know the Polish language, Dorota was helpful in providing the Polish equivalence to the words we will be using with the students.

 

We finished our day with a nice supper and Rene prepared popcorn for the group with help from the kitchen staff. Carol is not feeling well and retired early.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Getting Ready


After being waked by our dorm leader, Carlene, we met for another pleasant breakfast in our cheery dining room.  When Dorota arrived we started the daily informing and socializing meeting.

 

I presented the “thought of the day” and Carol began our Team Journal with the report of our experiences together yesterday.

 

Dorota walked us through the wide collection of teaching materials and showed us how to operate the duplicating machine along with giving us tips for solving other possible housekeeping problems after which we all went our separate ways collecting books and games that we anticipate needing in classes tomorrow.

 

There was time for a short walk outside in the splendid fall day along the pretty Polish road colored by gold and rust leaves, some still on the trees, some on the road.

 

For a moment my thoughts about the manor house, Reymontowka: It is a grand grouping of two-story wings with outbuildings surrounded by pretty grounds and gardens and there is even a small pond.  The grounds display large winsome wooden statues, most more than life-sized.  The 200 year-old manor house, on the list of National Treasures, in itself is filled with paintings, sculptures and magnificent pieces of elaborate furniture.

 

After lunch we all got into the van to be driven to Siedlce for sight-seeing – the cathedral, the palace, the bustling streets - and a little shopping. We joined our van and driver at the railroad station after we (Carol, Carlene, Rene and I), with Dorota’s much appreciated help, bought our train tickets for our weekend in Krakow. 

 

Back at the manor we had another great dinner and individually did our final preparation for our first day with students tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Complete Team of 4


Kathy had arrived in the dark of the night by cab from Warsaw. So by Sunday we were a complete team of four, on Polish time and joyfully in Polish cuisine. We had shared Reymontowka with a wedding party of 140. Band music echoed through the night and morning hours. We would have loved to peek in on the dancing and traditional five course celebration-the last of the season.

 

Breakfast pancakes folded to hold fruit, topped with freshly whipped cream started us off. The table was an array of choice beverages, fruit, a meat platter and vegetables. ….

 

We followed Dorota to the resource room-evolving developing team goals and discussing the school assignments and expectations-theirs and ours.

 

The van delivered all five of us to a 1776 wooden Catholic church. The sunlight glanced off the open fields to the right as parishioners streamed from the village at the left just as families had done for centuries. The old, unheated frame building was filled to capacity. The choir director thoughtfully had provided words to the hymns on a high screen. I could barely follow the singing but was relieved to note that the individual “zs” and they’re everywhere never command a “z” sound-always coupled with a c/s for a new sound.

 

The second wave of church goers was filing by as we headed back to the van. We detoured to visit a nearby town with train access to Warsaw/Siedlce and then we were introduced to Carlos store which is one-stop shopping in the broadest terms-excluding caskets which are available next door.

 

Late in the afternoon of a perfect fall day faculty from each of the school using Global Volunteers team came and explained our scheduling. The Kotun Middle School (14-16) requested a teacher for the first time. The major premise is, as always, eliciting conversation within the framework of their English work book. So as I put down this pen I shall pick up my pages of homework. One suggestion was to discuss current American music. I of the big band, Sinatra, Cosby era could only roll my eyes.

 

In the have before dinner, local customs were aired, particularly the reluctance for adults to make eye contact with strangers as a result of the wartime occupation perhaps.

 

Monday is to be a teacher planning day- no classes for us. We will be going to Siedlce to change dollars to zloty which led to lively discussion of a possible Krakow expedition-leaving by train early afternoon on Friday, returning Sunday evening. Specifics are still being worked out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Preparing for the Big Finish


     I   can hardly believe that just two weeks ago we were on the plane traveling to Poland and now we’re wrapping it up, getting ready for the  big Friday night performance for parents and friends and then the good-byes.

     This was a nonstop day. The first two hours were regular English classes and the next two were for an English language movie. Georgianna’s class divided into two groups, girls and boys, to start work on the Friday presentation. They’ll act out simple, basic English situations, what I call “courtesy and survival English,” throwing in as many “th” sounds as possible. Alex and Charlotte will participate with this class and also with Dorota’s class in the “invisible bench” sequence. Jim’s class is working on an advanced musical number, not the Marine Corps hymn, alas.

     The weather was gorgeous so students were  out on the tennis and volleyball courts, the football field, and in the very cold swimming pool when they weren’t in the big tent preparing for the Circus of Fun and Thrills. Kasia (Catherine), the theatre director, did two full run-throughs of the show. Georgianna started out as the official rehearsal audience but soon metamorphosed into the speech and diction coach. Lots of “th’s” and “the’s.” I must say, it is a spectacular show with acrobats, a juggler, hula hoop dancers, animal trainers and animals—elephants, lions, snakes and polyglots.

 Georgianna

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So Much Fun


Things are going along smoothly, but the kids are getting less and less enthusiastic about English. For the first  hour I was with Dorota and we played 20 Questions to wake them up. And it worked! 20 Questions was a big hit!!  For the second hour,  I went to Grandma’s class and we walked around Reymontowka, identifying landmarks and different buildings in English and Polish. Later, we drew maps. For third hour, I went back to Dorota and we played Apples to Apples, which is very populalr among the teachers and campers. And, last, Grandma gave a presentation about Washington, D.C. during the last hour.

After lunch, instead of going to theatre, art, dance and sports we went into Siedlce. We had lots of fun. Charlotte and I finished getting gifts for our friends and Charlotte got brand new shoes.  Once we all finished shopping we went to Dorota’s mother’s house, which was terrific. We had delicious homemade Charlotteka, an apple cake,  orange juice and fresh fruit. We even got to bring some back to Reymontowka for dessert.  Then, after all the chatting was done and none of us were hungry for dinner, we went home to Reymontowka and to our surprise, we ate a large amount of warm potato pancakes with delicious mushroom gravy. Mmmmmmmm.  Soon we will go to a bonfire and roast marshmallows. So much food. So much fun.

Alex McGuire

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Slower Start


Is this like the  “sophomore slump,” the drop-off in enthusiasm and effort  that second-year college students are famous for? The students were dragging today, not as bright and “up” as last week. Their busy weekend with a full day in Warsaw, parent visits, and a scavenger hunt wore them out. And, the hot, humid weather today didn’t help any of us who had classes in the tent.

     We made some personnel changes for the day : Dorota took over Matthew’s class and Alex agreed to be her assistant while Charlotte shifted over to Georgianna’s beginner class. Dorota’s class has begun to plan its Friday night presentation, “the invisible bench.”  Georgianna’s class will probably do something with introductions, asking for help, giving directions, and ordering food in a restaurant. The finale will have to include lots of “th” words to demonstrate their mastery of that difficult but essential English sound.

     The evening activity was to have been a talent show but the campers decided at the last minute that they weren’t ready, maybe by Wednesday? So, instead of a talent show they did a combination lip syncing and karaoke show. I’m not sure they were ready for that either, but they seemed to have a good time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Polish Night


After breakfast, we had our usual morning classes, and, in the fourth period, Matthew gave his presentation on the city of Chicago. It was very interesting and informative, and I learned a few new facts about the “Windy City” I didn’t know, even though I was born, reared and raised in Chicago.

After we had lunch, Charlotte, Kamila, Karolina, Matthew and I made the one and one half hour trek to Treblinka, a German concentration camp in Poland during World War II. It was very interesting to walk around the grounds and to view the memorial dedicated to the 800,000 people who lost their lives at the camp. One of the most poignant moments for me was viewing a large boulder at the memorial site which had the words “never again” in Polish inscribed on the  stone.

After dinner, we all went to the tent to enjoy Polish night which included everything from the Polish students dancing the Polonaise, to the students singing the Polish national anthem. After the rousing and entertaining show, we all departed the tent for our rooms to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for our trip to Warsaw the next day. All in all, it was another great day!

Jim

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fun Activities


This morning, we went down for breakfast, and had really good pancakes. For the first hour we did tongue twisters and interviewing each other about what they did over the summer. For the second hour we played Boggle and finding mistakes in sentences. For third hour I went with Grandma while Alex went with Sylvia. Grandma and I did th’s and read the Giving Tree then talked about it afterwards. For fourth hour some of the classes did singing some of them didn’t, like Grandma’s and Daddy’s. Then we did the Cha-Cha Slide and I don’t want to be a chicken, I don’t want to be a duck, and then we did YMCA. Daddy, Grandma and I went to Waldek and Tosia’s apartment at 5:00pm. We came back around 9:00pm. Alex was still watching the evening activity so we asked her for the key and went upstairs to bed.

-          Charlotte

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Full Day


I feel like we’ve only been here for 2 days. Teaching went pretty well today. But in first hour the kids looked like they were half asleep so we did some fun active things like musical chairs and Simon Says. Everything went pretty smoothly after that, we even practiced TH’s and I think they improved but I still hear “fff…” instead of “th th th…”. But that’s okay because we will practice again tomorrow. For third hour I went to Camilla’s class. I expected it to be loud, but they were pretty quiet. Phillip said it was because they were shy. And last but not least during fourth hour Nicky gave a presentation about Great Britain and emphasized how different the accents are and how you shouldn’t confuse Great Britain and England. Dance, Theatre, and Art were great. In dance we are learning a new all-girls dance. It is very difficult. In theatre we added in a new scene –hula hoops! It is a lot of fun. And in art we worked on a very funny story about a dog named Mars. It even includes pictures.

At 6:30 Grandma, Daddy, Charlotte, Jim, Andrzej and I all left Reymontowka to go to the Janusz Hotel. It was very nice. I got to try steak tartare with quail egg and I practiced some Polish. It was a great evening. When we all got home Charlotte went to bed and fell asleep in two seconds and Grandma and I followed shortly after. What a full day!
- Alexandra

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Settling In


Today was our second day of teaching, and the campers are getting settled in. It seems that many stayed up late last night, talking and forming friendships that are becoming more apparent during the day. Most of the kids are eager to improve their English, and they work hard throughout the day – concentrating, reaching for that word they can’t quite find, and wanting to show their teachers that they are improving. As several people have pointed out, the English classes in school here center around textbooks rather than conversational English, so some kids are more comfortable than others with the spoken word. We started our day as we always do, the Volunteers together as a team over breakfast; and then we went into our classes. Since I am new to teaching English as a Second Language, I am still trying out different sorts of exercises to see what is most effective. Some “games”,  some lessons from workbooks, some things I have overheard Mom using or Dorota suggesting. Mom and Jim have more of a routine, it seems, but everyone has been open about the challenge of engaging all of the students and helping them to progress. Building their confidence, and letting them know that we don’t expect perfection, goes a long way. Tomorrow we will continue to do just that.

Our day included more than just class, however. We had the chance to meet with the Governor of Siedlce’s county, and had a very interesting discussion. I’m sure Alex & Charlotte were not surprised that we quickly went to politics, and that I enjoyed hearing the Governor’s perspective. He is a thoughtful man, and his views were far-ranging. From the shift in Polish values as the country modernizes, to the uncertainty of natural gas discoveries, to the stultifying effect of socialism on generations of workers during the Communist era, and even to his own decisions to focus on family rather than reaching for the highest professional rungs – we all listened intently, just as he did to us.

We also went into Siedlce for the first time, and got a sense of the town. It’s beautiful churches, some of its shops, its narrow roads and the pleasantness of its residents. And then we came back to Reymontowka in time to judge the campers fashion show. (Jakub and Magda won – largely due to how much fun they had as they marched, sauntered, and pranced down the “runway”.) We had a good time, as we have since the moment we arrived….
- Matthew

Monday, August 13, 2012

Show Time


Show time! First day of classes. For me last minute anxiety – always. Did I prepare enough materials, would I run out of lessons before time was up, would the work be too hard, or  - worse – too easy for the kids? And four classes in a row with the same kids – how can I keep them interested, focused, for that long? And we know that they were probably just as anxious, and more.

All survived, volunteers and students. For Jim, it was an especially good day with the most advanced students. For Georgianna and Alex it was a terrific day with the supposedly least advanced  students (we’re not so sure, maybe people say that they because they’re the youngest ones?). We varied our activities so that students with different learning styles would get chances to participate. Some are quiet but understand English and could explain to others in Polish. Some are confident and speak out, even if they’re not sure of an answer. They were enthusiastic and willing and ready to work. Not that we know something about their levels we’re really excited about the next two weeks.

Matthew had the biggest class because he got two extra students, Carolina, the counselor, and Kasia, the camp theatre director. They moved around a lot, first because of a sudden downpour and later for a walk around Reymontowka, an opportunity for students to use and expand their English vocabularies.

It was a good day for all – the usual outstanding meals (and we’re expanding our Polish food vocabularies as well as our waistlines). Alex and Charlotte joined the campers afternoon activities  - which gave some of the Polish students extra time with English speakers.

We’re meeting our goals – we’re working as a team, and we’re having fun.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Setting goals


What a pleasure it is to once again see and be with Georgianna  again in Poland. It is also an extra added pleasure to meet and be with her son, Matthew, and her granddaughters,  Alex and Charlotte.

We started our day with a great breakfast, and afterwards met to discuss what we thought were the characteristics of an effective team. We also established our team goals and discussed the daily schedule for our next two weeks of summer camp at Reymontowka.

As our team goals we chose: Learn About Polish People, Language and Food, Help Polish Students to Learn and Practice English, Have Fun, Make New Friends, and Try New Things.

After our meeting with Dorota, we immediately started preparing for our first day lessons with our students. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and time to eat again.

After lunch, we learned some basic Polish words and phrases, and I was amazed at how quickly Alex and Charlotte picked up and effectively grasped what Dorota had taught. You would have thought they had been in Poland for weeks!

Later that afternoon, we introduced ourselves to the Polish teachers, counselors, and staff, and they did likewise. Also the students introduced themselves and told us their names, ages, where they lived, and how long they had been studying English. We then briefly met with the students who would be in our individual classes for the next two weeks. Then it was more preparation for classes, and then it was time to eat once again. How quickly the day had passed!

By the time we knew it, it was time for bed, with each of us excited about what new adventures and challenges the next two weeks would hold for all of us.

Jim

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Big Finish


Once upon a time, there was a wise man that used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one.”  Attributed to  Loren Eiseley  and shared by Sara.

The sun came up around 4:30 and ushered in a very hot morning for our last day at this language camp. We each had two individual sessions with our classes. Practice continued for the evening program during the classes.

For Lessons 3 and 4 we offered the campers the choice of several different types of activities ranging from sports to putting together puzzles to playing Uno. Each camper could choose two activities. And then suddenly our teaching responsibilities which had seemed so daunting two weeks ago were all done.  We sincerely hope we also have made a difference.

The afternoon was quiet and passed by quickly, since obiad ended about 2 PM and kolecja was early today at 5 PM.  Parents began arriving about this time and were helping the children pack their belongings and move them to the cars.

At 6 PM we all gathered in the tent for the evening program.We all enjoyed seeing a display of the art projects the students had done during their camp experiences.

 Marek Błaszczyk. Director of Reymontówka, introduced all the camp staff, Dorota, and we volunteers.  We were also honored to have the Siedlce County (our local host organization) Deputy Governor attend the program. She graciously greeted us.
The program began with the theatre performance. The presentations by the English teaching groups were interspersed between dance performances. It is always a pleasure to see the students show off their other talents. We can’t forget, too, that the program closed with a terrific piano performance by one of the campers.
Sara’s group presented The Three Little Pigs. The students did an excellent job with this. Lynn’s group presented the song, Head and Shoulders. Both of these groups did their performance without use of audiovisual support!
 Lori’s group did the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.”  They also stood up and sang the best they could!


 The group taught one week by Carol and then one week by Dorota presented Farmer in the Dell. The evening closed with a terrific piano performance by one of the campers.

Then all went to the bonfire area for kielbasa. The students enjoyed getting autographs on their shirts.


All the campers left with their families and Reymontówka suddenly became the same quiet place we had found on July 14.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Movie Night


Again today we each taught two sessions for our individual classes. Sara’s class worked on Reading Theater, Lori presented "Sentences in a bag” to her students, while Lynn’s group played number bingo.  This group will need more work on the speaking and understanding numbers in English so Bingo will be repeated Friday.  "Word Thief" was very popular with the boys in Lynn’s class

For sessions 3 and 4 we all gathered together for the movie, "Night at the Museum 2.” This film was shown with the English audio and Polish subtitles. 

 In the afternoon Lori started reorganizing the workroom. Sara and Lynn went to Pierog, a tiny nearby village. There they took photographs of animals, old buildings, and rural scenery.  A local couple offered tea and coffee.  An elderly guy walked with them as they returned back to Reymontówka.

The evening activity for the campers was a scavenger hunt.  Teachers began sorting and packing for the long flight home as well as planning for Friday parent's night.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Camp Tradition


Today we each taught two sessions for our individual classes. We could see that practice is underway for the program to be presented on Friday evening. Then we joined together in the “Big Room” for presentations. Sara shared a PowerPoint presentation prepared by her second grade class that helped us all learn about plants and animals that live in Arizona.  The students were highly amazed that people in Arizona do not put fences around their homes. They also couldn’t figure out why people used rocks instead of grass for the front lawns until Sara explained one doesn’t have to water rocks. Students had many other follow-up questions for Sara.  Lesson 4 included presentations about New York City and Toronto, provided by Diana and Keshav.

After obiad, we spent some time with the Polish English teachers planning the special stations we will have for Lessons 3 and 4 on Friday. In the afternoon, Sara, Lynn, and Lori went to Siedlce to do some shopping. They returned by train just before kolecja.

The students’ evening program was the traditional camp wedding ceremony. The desk for the wedding ceremony was decorated and placed before the mirrors left behind by dance camp. This made a beautiful scene for the weddings. Six couples exchanged vows which included promises to cheer at futbol games for the grooms or dance together at any future camp discos. Cheers arose when the evening program director announced it was time for the wesele.  Observation revealed, however, that the beautiful brides had already lost their husbands, boys enjoying other activities already such as futbol.

In the late evening I mentioned to one of the Polish English teachers that he had missed the weddings. He laughed and said, “I’ve been to so many. It’s a Polish camp tradition.” So I guess we learned something about Polish culture!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

History Lesson


Today started off with breakfast and lessons as usual. In Sara's group, the students began practicing their Reader's Theater play, The Three Little Pigs. The children are preparing the play for the Friday night performance in front of their parents. The other groups also worked preparing their skits and songs. The children had many opportunities to practice their conversational English skills while identifying, labeling and using vocabulary words in sentences.

For the fourth lesson, everyone gathered inside for Lori's presentation on Minnesota. The children learned all about the Mississippi River, as well as buildings, animals, plants, and sporting events in Minnesota. They especially enjoyed watching the Red Bull video clips!

In the evening, the children had a blast spending time together and singing karaoke to Polish songs!

During the afternoon, Sara, Lynn, and our Polish-based teen volunteers, Diana and Keshav, went on a journey to Treblinka. They were accompanied by Wojceich, who acted as the translator. (Wojciech is a former camper and works over the summer in some of the language camps as a counselor.) It was a long and bumpy ride, but well worth the trip. We walked through the museum and were especially interested in the photographs on the walls and the model of what the camp used to look like before it was destroyed. We walked through the forest and saw large blocks, representing the guards and border walls. We encountered a large stone memorial in honor of all of the people who died. The large stone was surrounded by smaller stones that were carved with the names of the cities whose people were killed. People had placed candles, flowers, and small stones around the memorial.

While I remember reading about these events in history books in school, it never really felt "real" to me until visiting Poland. I wish more people today would realize how important it is to understand the events of the past, so we can learn from them and make a better future.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back to Work


After an adventurous weekend in Warsaw, Monday was back to work day.  English-learning projects for the day included building an ideal city or emphasizing the basic who, what, where and when words.  Another group played word bingo and the antonym memory game.  Another group used letter stickers to make their name and then found words for each letter of their name, totaling 30 words by each student. Once they had identified these English words they added the Polish translation.

The fourth hour lessen was a presentation of Great Britain by Niki, one of the Polish English teachers. His students  first presented basic facts about Great Britain in both English and Polish. Then followed many questions for Niki, many of the questions centering on futbol.  The boys at camp at last found a well-informed teacher who could describe his favorite players and teams.

The campers also met two teens visiting their Polish family. They will be volunteering at camp this week.  They will do presentations about their homes in the United States and Canada later this week.


In the afternoon we went to the nearby village, Cisie, to visit a primary school at which Global Volunteers has provided teaching volunteers for many years as well as financial assistance through the Poland sponsorship program. The principal showed us the classrooms which contained a bright colorful atmosphere for learning.  It was impressive.

 

After supper (delicious cheese pierogi), the campers had a game "Blind Date.”  Our own Sara was a candidate and was chosen for a date!