Hello everyone! My name is Tuğçe Akbaş and I am from Tekirdağ/Turkey. As a recent chemical engineering graduate, I decided to take a gap year to step out of my comfort zone and explore new horizons. Little did I know, that decision would lead me to the Waldorf Free School in Bielsko-Biała, Poland, where I would embark on a journey of personal growth and empowerment.
When I first arrived in October, I was able to observe all kinds of classes, including English, music, art, drawing, handcraft, and woodcraft. I was fascinated by the different education methods used in Waldorf schools, and I quickly became familiar with the children. I started crocheting gloves, water holders, and Christmas figures for the school’s Christmas market. Crocheting is one of my hobbies, so it was a great way for me to combine work and play.
As I attended workshops on ceramics and Christmas wreaths, I felt a sense of accomplishment as I created my own cup from clay. During the Christmas market, I was filled with joy as I greeted families and helped the children paint figures and wooden objects. Meanwhile, the on-arrival training in Torun was a turning point in my journey, as I met new volunteers and learned about Poland and volunteering. I now have a network of friends all over the country who have inspired me and supported me throughout my time here.
The heavy snowy days in December brought both challenges and beauty to my experience in Bielsko-Biała. Although the snow lasted for almost two months, it was a reminder to me of the power and resilience of nature. Celebrating New Year’s Eve with my friends in the city, surrounded by dazzling fireworks, was a moment I will never forget. The winter break allowed me to travel to Vienna and Budapest, where I was exposed to new cultures, cuisines, and art. From my first opera experience to visiting the Belvedere Museum and immersing myself in art galleries, I felt a sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty of life.
Returning to Bielsko-Biała after my travels, one of my friends from the on-arrival training visited me, and we took a cable car ride up the mountain to admire the stunning views of the snow-covered landscape. We also visited Katowice to meet new friends and enjoy our time with them.
After the winter break, I made a greenhouse gas emissions presentation to teach 10th-grade students about climate change. I also presented Ebru marbling and Turkish art styles, including çini, miniature, ebru, and famous artists like Osman Hamdi Bey. I even taught the students Ebru marbling with nail polish, which they loved.
These past three months have been a journey of growth and empowerment. I have learned so much about myself, about others, and about the world. The Waldorf Free School in Bielsko-Biała will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am grateful for the experiences and memories I have made here. I know that this journey will continue to shape me and inspire me for the rest of my life.
Tuğçe from Turkey, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in Stowarzyszenie Wolna Szkoła Waldorfska in Bielsko-Biała.
This project is co-founded by European Solidarity Corps