Saturday, June 30, 2012

Arriving and Bus Rides

This language camp began when the campers and staff boarded a bus in Siedlce at 6 AM. The bells in the Siedlce Cathedral were chiming—announcing it was 6 AM as we were boarding. Dorota and Lori joined the campers at this time. We drove about 35 minutes west to Minsk Maz where we stopped at the Cultural Center and picked up more campers. Then we started on a highway south. About 45 minutes later we stopped at a gas station along the highway and picked up another camper.   Somewhere around 10 AM Dorota got a phone call from Nikita, the camper coming from Latvia. He had safely arrived in Kraków.

The bus arrived at the Kraków airport a bit before 2 PM. We gathered up David, Nancy, Kathy, Martha, Valerie, Gillian, Beverly and Brandon.  Thus we started on our way to Zakopane.
We arrived at our hotel, Cztery Pory Roku, sometime shortly after 5 PM. The hotel had our dinner ready. We surely enjoyed the meal. After eating we were assigned our rooms and tried to get a bit organized. Then some of us found our way to the back patio and enjoyed the beautiful view of the mountains . Meanwhile a wesele was warming up in the Karczma area of the hotel, an activity which was “enjoyed” by some of the volunteers until the wee hours of

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!!

The Global Volunteers brought a little of the United States across the globe to Poland.  Each class spent part of today’s session explaining the history and tradition of our holiday based on the excellent research and planning by Gillian and Brandon. Some of the groups drew flags, stars, and maps of the United States to enhance the decorations for the evening’s July 4th activities.


The more advanced groups had an in-depth discussion on United States geography, politics, and culture.


Other class activities included trip to the town and the grocery store. Board games are turning out to be a favorite pastime for the kids, with the level of games commensurate with their abilities. Lori’s advanced group brought English-language brochures from their home city and discussed their city surroundings and home life. Val and Gillian used magazine from the United States and had their group of students described and write out pictures and scenes shown in magazine photos. This activity is an excellent preparation for the students’ matura, the leaving high school exam. They will be required to do this competently during their English test.


Afternoon activities, shared by students and volunteers, had to be altered because of a torrential downpour that began about 11 AM and continued through the afternoon. A visit to the water park was cancelled and replaced by a trip to the Krzeptówki church where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1997. The altar from which he presided was removed from the church and placed in a bucolic wooded area on the property and enclosed as a shrine. Since a mass in progress, we viewed the church only from the vestibule, but were able to walk and spend time at Pope John Paul II’s altar.


The bus then drove to the church, Peksowy Brzyzek, in Zakopane. The church’s cemetery is filled with interested grave markers, many carved in wood. Several of the cemetery inhabitants lied to close to or over 100 years of age, a statement to the healthy lifestyle, climate and genes.


After dinner the group convened in the pavilion to begin the July 4th celebration. Thanks goes to Lori for providing red, white and blue decorations and marshmallows for S’Mores. And all send kudos to Gillian and Brandon for volunteering and following up with great decorating skills to make the atmosphere truly festive.


The students arrived to a roaring fire blazing and pop music blaring. The question and answer game elicited many raised hands and correct answers. The marshmallow roast that followed made many devourers S’Mores – some it was told has many as 5! It seemed a good time was had by all.


After our July 4th festivities ended, the Polish counselors and staff had a wonderful surprise for us.  They welcomed us with a nice speech, letting us know that our work is valued. Then we were toasted with champagne and sweets. It was the perfect end to a very non-traditional 4th of July for all of us.