Values Boards: a good practice from Droga Wolna (pt. 2)

What and how

After some months in Droga Wolna free democratic school, some questions came to my mind. How does the school really working? How do they see the value of democracy? How do they see the context of the school? Why is it important for them coming to school when they have an unschooling perspective? What does freedom mean to them? 

It has been difficult finding answers, I didn’t feel like asking people directly. After all, when you are living an environment for such long time, you may just take all those questions for granted. But then, one night, I had an idea: let’s make a big board where everyone can write anonymously. I decided to involve my flatmate Cherly and we agreed some rules about boards. Every week, we were choosing different question to write in funny way on the board which were introduced then at school. Everyone (kids, mentors, families) could write answers or draw something. At the end of the week (something it took more time), Cherly and me collected and discussed the answer in order to create and paint a canvas that represented the whole board, question and answers. We managed to do three boards: what is democracy? What is freedom? What is school?  We created these boards with a strong panel using different material: Cherly taught me how to make a simple board fancy and attractive. In the end, we had so much fun painting together the final canvas using our imagination.


  • Improving communication
  • Being open to diversity 
  • Increasing tolerance and mind elasticity 
  • Creating new bonds and strengthen old ones
  • Awareness about ourselves and about the environment we are building and living
  • Being open to discuss, to question what people take for granted


With the first board, we really needed the support of mentors (Anita we love you) since the translation was important to get to kids. But after the first one, participating in the activity has just been natural. The questions inspired a lot of good talk between people during the weeks. Even some parents stopped by to talk about it, sharing their point of view. Honestly, I had the best discussion with teenagers.

We spent almost one day discussing  about democracy, what it means for us and most of all, what it means and feels living in a democratic school. We found unique insights, new perspectives and points of view about the topics. An open space for communication has been built and people were feeling free to share their opinions, idea and even some critics. I totally believe that there is nothing to be scared or ashamed in questioning, in having different thoughts that others or in expressing a willing to change. The most important thing is to talk about it, together, with respect. As Kong Fu Panda says: if you do only what you know by yourself, well, you will never be more that what you are now. You will never grow. What is the best tool to grow and change for better if not talking? I was so surprised by teenagers, they have so much to say, to give to adults if we only let them speak for themselves. And boards guaranteed it for some months, that’s why I think they have been a success and a really good practice at school. 

Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Szkoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.


Hi dears,

I want to tell you a reflection and I want to combine it with a story.
At the beginning of my voluntary service, on the way to school there is a corner in the street and there was a building that was just starting. At first I could only see a structure that didn’t make much sense, but passing the days I could see the changes, how the building was taking shape.

The same thing happened with my volunteering, at the beginning I arrived and I didn’t really know what my tasks were, what exactly I was doing here, I wondered how I was going to communicate, if I could find my place or not, everything was black and ugly like the building.

But today I’m sure that I had a beautiful space to share, I have been able to learn a lot from this experience and the most beautiful thing has been to be able to travel, to meet Poland and such nice and kind people from many countries. I know that after this experience something has changed in me, it has given me a lot.

the building

In the same way as the building is finished and looks beautiful, I feel grateful and full of good experiences.

Laura ♊ from Spain. volunteer at the Democratic school organized by Fundacja Przestrzeń (Wolna Szkoła Przestrzeń )
The project is co-founded by European Solidarity Corps

Surprise meal

Heeey. Yesterday my friend started to make meal for her. Then I realized that she is making traditional Azerbaijani food which we call cabbage dolma. Then I helped her for wrapping and other things.

Now I going to share the picture and recipe of this meal. If you want you can make it. Note! I share the recipe for vegetarians it is not so famous in my country, generally we make it with meat.

Cabbage Stuffing Note: When choosing stuffed cabbage, choose one so that the leaves do not stick together.

It is easy to separate the leaves of this cabbage without damaging them. For 4-5 shares For Inside: half a kilo rice 1 medium onion – chop finely (2 cups will be taken)2 tomato2 carrot1 ring pepper 2 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato) half a cup of finely chopped coriander half a cup of finely chopped dill 2-3 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper Prepare the inside first. To do this, mix all the necessary ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Prepare the cabbage leaves. To do this, separate the leaves from the cabbage without damaging them. Boil water in a large pot. Throw a large pinch of salt into it. Put two or three cabbage leaves in boiling water. Press the foam with the leaves so that the leaves remain in the water. Boil the leaves in this water for 2-3 minutes (soften a little, but do not cook). Then take it out of the water with a ladle and strain it in a saucepan. Prepare all the leaves in this order. Cut the large, hard veins of the leaves that pass through. Stack the slices in the bottom of the pot (so the bottom of the stuffing does not burn). If the leaves are large, cut them in half. Place about 2 tablespoons of the inside in the middle of each leaf. Fold the edges of the leaf inwards, then fold in the form of a stuffing. You can also put damaged leaves on the bottom of the pot. Stack the stuffing in a row. If you use fresh tomatoes, add a little tomato between each layer.

Leyla from Azerbaijan, Volunteer at the Democratic school organized by Fundacja Przestrzeń (Wolna Szkoła Przestrzeń )The project is co-founded by European Solidarity Corps#EUSolidarityCorps#activewomenassociation

It is worth seeing vol. 6

Łódź is one of the cities in the Mazovia region and has always been a city of great manufactures and factories. For a very long time the town was neglected and left to its own devices without any changes. It is only in the last few years that the town has undergone an amazing transformation and become very open to tourists. I will tell you about some super places that you absolutely must see!

TOP places:

  1. Łódź Fabryczna station – was under construction for 5 years. Even before its opening it was hailed as the most beautiful railway station in Poland.
  2. Wolności Square (and Nowosolna) – Freedom Square in Łódź, formerly known as New Market. It can be said that this is where Łódź begins. It is here that a new clothmakers’ settlement was once delineated, which gave rise to the rapid development of the city. It is also here where Piotrkowska street begins, probably the most famous promenade in Poland. Here you will find three important buildings: the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, the Church of the Holy Spirit and the State Archive in Lodz. The square itself has an octagonal shape, which makes it very unique. There are not many such squares in the whole world.
  3. The Radegast station – is a place which, surprisingly, many Łódź people do not know about. It is a pity, because it is a very important point on the map of Łódź, closely connected with the history of the Łódź ghetto. It was a place from which thousands of people left… to extermination camps, including Auschwitz. Today there is a monument and a small museum there.
  4. Manufaktura (together with the adjacent beautiful Poznański Palace) is nothing else but a factory complex of Izrael Poznański, another great Lodz factory owner. Similarly to Księży Młyn, it has been dilapidating and forgotten for years. Thousands of Łódź citizens drove past it every day to work, not knowing the history of this place, which is unique on a global scale. Poznanski Palace itself is called “Louvre of Lodz”. Built in many styles, today it serves, among others, as the Museum of History of the City of Łódź, which you must visit.
  5. Survivors’ Park and the Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre located there – The park was created quite recently (in 2004) to commemorate the people locked in the Lodz ghetto. On the opening day, the survivors planted their trees here, 450 in all, as well as the Mound of Remembrance and the Monument to Poles Saving Jews with plaques commemorating the “Righteous Among the Nations”.

Dominika, polish voluteer, In Situ Foundation in Sokołowsko

Common things between Poles and Azerbaijanis

Some days ago I was reading some facts about Poland which totally reminded me of my country and I thought that it can be interesting to gather them and write about them. So here I share some facts or habits that are same in Azerbaijan and Poland.

1. Refusing is considered polite- when people are visiting you , they refuse to drink or to eat at your home.Even if they are hungry or starving, they consider it to be rude to agree on getting meal or drink for the first time someone asks. If you are host, you need to ask second or third time to make sure they don’t really want anything or they were just being polite.

Some people share their experiences about this topic saying that in another countries sometimes when someone offered them something and  refused just to be polite even if then wanted, but then they didn’t offer it again. And this is totally related to culture and traditions in my opinion.

It’s totally same in Azerbaijan, even if we are at our close relative’s house, we never accept eating for the first time

2.Hospitality- according to my personal experience polish people are so hospitable and when you visit them, they try to make food for you and give you warm, friendly environment. This tradition is also same in my country. When someone visits you, it doesn’t matter how many of them there are , we prepare food and we try to make them have fun and spend good time.

3. Home parties – after spending 6 months in Poland I realized that polish people prefer partying with their friends and flat which is similar to my country. We don’t even have a lot of clubs or bars because we don’t have party tradition. In Azerbaijan  you can see a few people who are going to the clubs or discos.

That’s all information that I know but I am sure that we have other similarities ,too. I will keep discovering and sharing.:)

Chichak from Azerbaijan, volunteer in Zespół Szkół specjalnych nr 4 in Sosnowiec.

The project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#EUSolidarityCorps #ActiveWomenAssociation

Włoskie Słowa: a good practice from Droga Wolna


Every Monday, together with Alan, we decide 5 new words we are interested in and we translate them from English, to Polish, to Italian. We write them on a big paper with oil colors, drawing some image of them: in capital letters, you find the Italian words and in small letters you find the translation in Polish. I was the one in charge of writing the Italian words and Alan was the one writing the Polish translation and he also makes drawings.


  • learning new languages (Polish, English and Italian); spreading awareness about cultural diversity; 
  • improving non verbal expression (drawing); 
  • training mind flexibility and the ability of being focused; 
  • deepening relationships.


At the beginning, it was only a personal project, part of the school newspaper. Short people employed me as advertiser and my task was just to add some words in Italian so everyone could see them and if people were interested, they would have started to learn. From the very beginning, during the day, I found some short people, teenagers and even parents staring at the board, trying to pronunce them, laughing about the sounds of the words, and sometimes asking me for explanation.

After two boards, something great happened: Alan, 13 y.o with Asperger syndrome, was so interested that he wanted to take active part in it. He asked to get involved in the process of choosing words and then writing. When I forget to do the words or I’m late, Alan remembers me. From personal project to a shared one. I couldn’t ask for anything better! He told me he has a true passion for Italy and he would like to know more about Italian language. Alan has incredible mind, he remembers literally everything, from the small, insignificant details to the huge ones. He speaks Polish, English, German without any troubles and, overall, without mistakes. He is so fluent and British that I’m jealous. He is a fast learner when he decides to learn, when he finds something he is really interested in. This is what happened with Włoskie Słowa. He tried to learn them, repeating and using them while talking with me. He tried just few time and now, he remembers all of the 30 words. Most of them came from his stories. Alan is a storyteller: he creates stories and tales from actual facts, real environments (Szczecin, the shopping mall Galaxy, parks and fountains) and real people. He just connects all of that in a funny and creative way, making his stories really interesting for the listener. It was exactly during this storytelling that he asked me to translate some key words like train (treno), fountain (fontana), heart (cuore), rainbow (arcobaleno). And now we have almost 30 words. Still growing.

Finishing one board can take even one morning or one afternoon, but the time just flies. This has been an amazing opportunity to get to know him better, to build and strengthen our bond so that now, we are “the most friendly people at school to each other”, as Alan uses to say. We spent so much time together that now we understand each other very fast, and also we were able to get out to school together for a walk in the park, listening to his stories, in front of his favorite fountains. For me, this means he trusts me and he knows I care about him. And what is the basis for true human relationship if it’s not trust?

Włoskie Słowa has been a great success! I’m so proud and happy because with a small activity, a strong connections has been built. A small but smart idea can become a good practice even with few materials (papers, pastels), if you use imagination and creativity. Learning has to be charming: if you invite people in a funny way, without the rigidity that usually is employed in systemic schools, you fascinate people and they might be willing to be with you and learn from you. Education is preparing people to educate themselves in their own way, you just show them the tools you like and they might use them or transform them in the way they like the most. 

Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Szkoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.


Dear Krakow


My arrival to Krakow was an
amazing experiencie. It was a long trip from Alicante to Madrid, after from
Madrid to Varsaw and finally at 23 pm a train that would leave me at Krakow at
5 am.
When I arrive to the flat only i want to sleep so i couldnt meet well my
flatmate. But the days before i meet her well and i was so happy, because she
speak good english and was very kind and nice with me. She showed me nice
places in krakow and cooked me a lot of delicous dishes from Azerbaijan. We
decided to make every weekend a international day who some of us had to cooked
something of our country.

At begining it took some
getting used to live in Poland, maybe the weather or because school was closed
I had to do online lesson and nobody join it. also to been far away from my
people and my love. With the passing of the days and the fields bloomin, the
school opened i was feeling better. I felt more motivated and prepared to do
everything that i propose.
Do exercise helped me a lot. I found many interesting and wonderful places
running under Krakow’s changeable weather

Laura ♊ from Spain. Volunteer at the Democratic school organized by Fundacja Przestrzeń (Wolna Szkoła Przestrzeń )
The project is co-founded by European Solidarity Corps

Czym jest teatr Kamishibai?

During a sunny day in Droga Wolna democratic school, one mentor brought a very particular theatre structure made out of wood. It is called “Kamishibai”: it came from Japan ancient time and it is a form of storytelling. It was also used by buddhist monks to tell stories with moral issues to people. Our mentor told us that in the past, the narrator or storyteller of Kamishibai moved from one Japanese village to another by bicycle and once arrived, he usually invited people to hear the story. With always a big audience (adults and children), the storyteller started to tell his own stories using this wooden theatre. It looks like a square box with two small doors and once opened, you can see tablets or papers on which the various passages of the story are drawn.

When I was about to participate in the Kamishibai workshop at Droga Wolna, I thought it would be boring. You know, it was in polish, the narrator would have just read the story using pictures… I’d prefer puppet theatre! Surprisingly, when it started, our mentor was performing so good that everyone was fascinated. Suddenly, lots of kids and adults came to listen. To keep the attention and to attracted them, our mentor was mimicking the sound of nature. When she had our complete attention, she involved us in the dynamic: now, we were acting the sounds of nature (wind) and animals (lions). I enjoyed so much and I was really fascinated, also because after this, a curious process started with kids.

How to use it?

It is really smart tool because you can just insert the illustrated boards into the side slot of the wooden box and tell the story. The storytelling process is easy because each image has number on the back. While the narrator reads and performs the story, the public just see the images. You can buy some stories on internet but there aren’t much. The amazing point is that, once having the structure, you can create your own stories. If you have a strong cardboard, you can start to draw and paint what you have in mind. During our workshop at school, when the story finished, we wanted more but our mentor didn’t have. So, few smaller kids and me decided to share some ideas and draw new papers. We performed a story of a small “smok” (dragon) who decided to travel from his home, a very beautiful park full of flowers, to explore the sea with his boat.

Why you need to try

Kamishibai is an easy and cozy tool to tell stories and just do theater, at school, at home, at the park. A wooden craft that you can move everywhere and you can use with everyone, small but at the same time so precious. While you use it, a scenic place is created, storyteller and public are involved in the same story, helping each other in the creative process. Imagine to use is in your school, with kids… You can support them in developing lots of skills:

  • Use of the body expression to communicate (playing with facial expression, gestures) in a creative way during the process of storytelling;
  • Imagination: participating actively in a story or creating your own one (from the text to the pictures) let us create imaginary situations, alternative worlds which, later, we put into place.
  • Connection between concepts and ideas (what you want to do) with actions (put idea into reality) and then reflection on the results;
  • Expand the vocabulary playing and sharing points of view with others;
  • Being in relation with people, collaboration, leaderships and responsibility (mostly learning to take into account the point of view of others, while creating common project);
  • Cognitive skills as observation, analytical thinking, problem solving in creative and funny way;

Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Szkoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.


Kraków – my favourite place in Poland

Hello! In this article I want to share with you my experience and knowledge about Cracow. I think it’s a charming and beautiful place, for sure worth to visit at least once!

My story with Cracow began when I was a little girl. I would say that it’s my family tradition to go every year to this city with my family. When my mother was young they were visiting our family members and spend whole day with them. I have never met them but my granny was telling me stories about my aunts and uncles from Cracow. Now I can only visit them on Rakowicki Cemetary (it’s one of the biggest Cemetary in Cracow and a lot of well known people are buried there, for example very good poetess – Wisława Szymborska). Then we were going to café and ate ice cream. We were taking a walk on market square, watched beautiful things in Sukiennice, such as jewelery especially with amber, handmade wooden and painted boxes in folk style and souvenirs.

Every time we had to go to Dragon’s Cave which enter is next to the Wawel Castle (way down has about 140 steps – I was counting it as a kid always). 

Sometimes we were taking a trip on Wisła river (it’s taking from 30 minutes to 1 hour). Two times I was on Kościuszko Mound – really nice view. You can see almost whole city from this place – I also recommend that. On the market square it’s underground museum – I have never been there but It looks nice and interesting. you can check an offer and photos on this website.

Between a castle and market square you can find a building where lived our polish pope – Jan Paweł II. You will recognize it by his photo, polish flag and pope flag (it’s yellow and white).

As I remember every year near to the center were a lot of people in costumes – many different ones! For example woman wear all in silver or gold, clowns etc, everyone had interesting and catching-eye uniforms. They didn’t move – only when you wanted take photo with them and put some coin in their hat J. Usually in the center or near to the monument of a dragon there are some attractions for the youngest tourists like soap bubbles.

Near to the castle you can see a knight and take a photo with him. Last time I also heard 2 men singing and wearing folk, traditional costumes. It’s really climatic and you can feel an old Cracow style.

On Grocka street is a lot of interesting places – mostly café and candy shop.

1. Candy factory – there you can see the process of making candy and buy some for yourself.

2. Harry Potter café – if you haven’t been there and you are a fan of this story – you totally should go there! Next to every coffee table you can see a picture of wizards from Harry Potter, and when you are ordering you should tell to a waitress with which wizard you are sitting J You can buy there a fortune cookie and play some games which are available in the bar. I will not say more – discover on your own when you will have an opportunity 🙂

3. I don’t remember the name of this place but… I’ll add a picture of this shop. It’s also candy shop and when you will enter, a lady will give you paper bag and you can pt in there every candy which are in this shop and mix. 100g costs 12zł. Jelly, lollypops, chocolates! Magical place for those ones who have sweet tooth.

Curiosities about Cracow:

1. Cracow was a capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596

2. You can hear a bugle call every hour from Mariacki church (Iheard that new bugler is needed there, every year it was a man, but last time one woman wanted to take that job. Bravo!)

3. About 200 thousands of citizens are students from all over the world!

4. Market square in Cracow is the biggest one in Poland

5. In 1993 in Cracow “Shindler’s list” have been recorded

Greetings guys!

Martyna from Poland, volunteer in Special Need School no 4 in Sosnowiec




Discover nature in Katowice


When I was a kid, I was living really close to the forest. Almost every day I was taking a walk between trees with my family. I also had my favorite tree! It was beech. It had low branches so I could touch it and hang on my hands for a while. My grandpa was telling me every time what’s the name of tree when we were passing by. With my cousin Kasia in holidays we were climbing on every tree in my garden, we were eating fruits from them. Especially sweet cherries and apples. We also create connections between 2 trees so we could correspond with little letters. Ah, beautiful memories! All my childhood I was discovering many forests near to my house. Now I can recommend you few forests and nature places to chill. This post is especially for people who like long walks, bird’s whistling and fresh air.

Las Murckowski – the forest

This nature reserve is located in the southern area of Katowice, Tychy, and Mysłowice. It’s situated near the Murcki neighborhood and borders the mine of the same name. The reserve’s landscape advantages include the slopes of Wzgórze Wandy [Wanda hill], brooks, and an ancient beech forest. It’s also the habitat of many species of mammals and birds. You can also find there something like little camping place (at least 3 of them which I visited). You can take a walk or (as I prefer) to ride a bike!

How to get to Las Murckowski?

  • The reserve is situated just over 10 km south of Katowice center, so going by car is the easiest and fastest way.
  • Public transport will take about 40 minutes: first no. 1, 4 or 14 bus from Aleja Korfantego to the Katowice Murcki Bielska stop, then 10 minutes on foot.
  • By bike it’ll take more or less the same amount of time, but you can visit the southern parts of the city on the way.

Dolina Trzech Stawów

Dolina Trzech Stawów [The Valley of Three Ponds], favored by all Katowice residents in the summer. The large area and extensive attractions foster all kinds of open air activities. It’s quite near to Katowice Center. It includes forest, bike, rollerblade and pedestrian paths. You should try to take a round in those three ways! You can also find there outdoor gym, playground for kids and in the summer there’s water playground open. I like part called “Sztauwajery”. You can sit there with your friends outside really near to the lake and chill. In the weekends especially DJ is playing nice music. Last time I was taking a walk there I found 3 or four places like this in this area! That’s cool because it’s not that crowdy and you can pick a place you will like the most. More near to Muchowiec you can also find stud farm with horses! My friend also told me that she saw Alpacas there. Maybe you will be the lucky one too! In all area is a lot of place to make your own picnic, so take your blanket with you.

How to get to Park Leśny?

  • Take no. 110 bus from the center (PKP Railway Station) – your destination is the Muchowiec Park stop; it takes less than 20 minutes.
  • By bike it takes about 15 minutes. It can be rented and returned on arrival (no problems finding a bike station).
  • Walking is a bit of a longer adventure – about 45 minutes along Francuska Street (it’s still a walk, and you learn about the city on the way).

Park Śląski and Rosarium

The Silesian Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe! Officially, it’s within the Chorzów borders, but neighbors Katowice and is gladly visited by its residents. Easily accessible. In season it’s filled with people from all over Silesia who often take a walk in the park after visiting the ZOO or the Legendia amusement park.

Therefore, I recommend going off the beaten track and among the trees, climbing towards the Planetarium for instance. After the walk, have a summer picnic in the Rosarium which is the largest rose garden in Europe as well. In the summer it’s quite possible to happen upon food trucks or free yoga lessons. When the weather is nice the park hosts breakfasts on the grass – lazy, peaceful, and relatively quiet for one of the largest European parks. You can also try to ride “Elka” the cable car and watch Silesian Park from bird’s-eye!

How to get to Park Śląski from Katowice?

  • The residents of Osiedle Tysiąclecia simply take the underground passage under  Chorzowska Street. From the city center the walk will take almost an hour.
  • It’s most convenient to take tram no. 6, 11, or 19 from the market square. Your destination is Park Śląski Wejście Główne – Silesian Park The Main Entrance, but you can go 2 stops further, get off at the Silesian Stadium and “walk back” towards Katowice – through the less crowded area.
  • By bike it’ll take less than 20 minutes – all along Chorzowska Street; you take the convenient bicycle path and there are many urban bike and scooter stations in the park (rent away!).

Martyna from Poland, volunteer in Special Need School no 4 in Sosnowiec