Wednesday, October 31, 2012


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.


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.