thing about being a volunteer in Poland is that you have an opportunity to
attend different festivals, so when I decided to do this project, first thing I
did was collect a money to buy a ticket for Open’er Festival, there was no way
I would miss it, especially when one of my favorite bands were playing.
course nothing went as it was planned, me and my flatmate, Gaby wanted to go
there together, but it didn’t work out, so I went there alone and that’s how my
crazy 48 hours trip started.
arrived in Gdansk at 7am, it was amazing how streets were empty and I was the
only one walking in the old streets. Probably one of the most beautiful cities
I’ve seen in Poland. In the afternoon went to Gdynia to meet friend and then
ahead to the festival.
surprise was that there were Stranger Things cast (pretty sure everyone knows
Stranger Things, if not, what are you waiting for). They had this cool place,
where you could play the same games as kids do in the show, Q&A with
actors, so it was pretty good start.
the band started to play, we checked around the festival city, so many cool,
artistic people in one place. So, we wanted to stand as close to the stage as
possible, the band was an hour late, but believe me waiting was worth, Vampire
Weekend was breathtaking in live, I loved every minute of it, if I don’t count
the last part, when crowd started to push from behind and security had to take
out people (including me), but apart of that everything was perfect.
had bus at 5am, didn’t have energy for anything, but walked a little bit to see
nightlife of Gdansk. A little recommendation, don’t try to sleep at Gdansk
train station! One guy tried to steal my bag, so here’s a little lesson for me
also. I had nine hours trip ahead back home, was totally exhausted, but at the
same time so happy, that I was in this festival, and finally listened to Vampire
September had barely started when one of the teachers of our school called for an assembly. We gathered around the biggest room available and sat in circle. Soon enough we knew the reason for this intervention: some pupils had been using curse words too often, to the point of bothering other kids, so it was their idea to search for an agreement.
This situation is actually
easy to picture for any educator of primary school, but unlike the formal
system, we do not simply cut this behavior off by forbidding these words
without any explanation. In a democratic system, although there are differences
among us in terms of experience, age and responsibility, all opinions are valid
and ought to be heard and pondered.
Soon enough there were several
risen hands requesting intervention. One by one, the children exposed their own
views on the matter, for and against the use of these “bad” words, on why they
were bad, what they really meant and how to use them. Children and adults
discussed the pros and cons of using such vocabulary. After a heated and
prolonged debate, we reached the following conclusion:
Language is to be used. Curse
words are fun: they are short, expressive, and get a reaction from others most
of the time, as well as they suppose an outlet for our own emotions. However,
if we overuse them, they will lose this power and not provide any relief to
feelings of frustration, pain or joy. Also, they can sound aggressive to some
people and intimidate them. We do not want this to happen, as we live in a
peaceful community. We need to take care of our words to convey what we feel in
the most effective way, so it is only logical to use “strong” words when
“strong” emotions are involved.
As a result of these premises,
we made two new rules involving curse words:
Cursing is okay if we really need to do so.
Cursing as a joke is okay with close friends of our age: not with smaller kids and not in front of adults. This way we set an example for the younger ones and we respect the feelings of the teachers and parents.
This is the way we believe decisions are taken and problems are solved: with the understanding and participation of all involved.
When the system steals your freedom… F#@% the system!
I was in Croatia for a Youth Exchange called “Color
Blind” for one week. I went there to represent Poland, but there were also
other countries like Italy, Spain, Croatia, Serbia and Germany. There were 36
of us ! The band was awesome! With different personalities, we had a lot of fun
A first day in a YE can be scary and cleated,
especially for shy introverts. Like a push in cold water; with all the new
rules, arrangements and side effects to share a week with a bunch of strangers.
But this day a melt really like a good ol’chocolate. We
entered the water of illumination with a welcoming hot shower (rain). We were
working our shallow path to deeper seas, discovering facts on the surface, such
as “Where do you live and what are your names?”, but already dig
deeper with great curiosity. (We even had heroes of the day, which is great,
since we weren’t warned to act like one).
On the second day, we had a mission impossible to solve with
our 36 ! Of course, the mission was not impossible and we solved it in 25
minutes ! What an incredible group !
Then we had a workshop in small groups to create our country
! The result was very funny, we had discovered that we are all crazy ! But that
finally our countries all had one thing in common: Solidarity and joy of life !!
After that, one last workshop that is done in two. For me it
was very difficult, the goal: to find 3 qualities and 3 defects then then find
3 qualities and 3 defects to his partner. It wasn’t easy, because we were only
on the second day, but it allowed us to get to know others and also it was
interesting to compare what we thought of ourselves.
The third day was based on our topics of the week, we, the
group from Poland we had “gender equality”. We had present our topics
in the form of a game, “the watchzapping”. The goal of the game: by
group by country, they had available themes on gender equality and had to
invent a play in 5 minutes. We had a remote control, like to change the
programs to TV. The other bands had to guess which topic was played by the
Day four, we went to another city, Varadzin. There we were
by think tank and we had to do the “city quest”. This game is perfect
for getting to know a city or a country. We had to find 5 historical monuments
and take pictures with them. Swap something out of our pocket with a local
person, learn a typical phrase from this city or even sing in the city center
and collect 10 kunas.
Day five, we learned that we were going to have to prepare a
game for a school with children with disabilities related to our topic, gender
equality. We created a game of goose, this game is just perfect!! We keep it
and we’re thinking about modifying it to play with our friends.
Day six, THE big day! We went to this school and we played
with the kids, it was one of my best days. The kids were all very cute and all
participated in our games!
The seventh day, and the last! And yes, it’s already the
end… We had to do a reflection session on how the week unfolded. Then lots of
little workshops about the week, and how we had lived this week.
It was really good! And very fun, I learned a lot about
different countries, about migration, how to solve conflicts or in diversion in
the same country.
What happened between 7th to 15th of June in Salzburg, Austria?
A group of youth educators,Teachers, social activist, project managers meet to discuss new educational perspective, share experiences from daily routine but mainly exchange contacts for future projects partnerships and also change the funding opportunities available , so indispensable for materialization of any project.
Some of the participants meet each other already in previous occasion , so the rencounter was already a good sign that the seminar would be fortifruit, indeed even for us , as young educators.
The works sessions was held from 9 a.m to 18p.m covering a range of topics related to youth participation and socio-cultural inclusion.
What was really lovely to see is the diversity of the participants,in terms of religion,culture, backgrounds , age , experiences, even life philosophy.48 people from more than 10 countries, 3 continents proves that is possible a peaceful cohabitation of differents communities in the same space.
For some more impressions, just click on the above link to read the Facebook posts and comments about the seminar, and follow the Facebook page of the Generation europa to stay tuned about upcoming events.
With all the knowledge and skills gathered, some participants has teamed up to carry on some projects elaborate “in loco” testing the methods from the seminar.At the end,all the participants agreed on keeping the contact so we can keep on the track of our work as well as our amazing network.
Interculturalism mosaic nights rhymes with barbecues nights which goes well with marvelous view of Austrian alps.As they say “every end is the new beginning”.
Coexistence is always complicated, but even more so when you are going to share a flat with people you do not know previously, as is the case with this EVS. However, even if we do not know people or can not choose them previously, we know that a good coexistence will be a fundamental factor to have a good experience during the project, since we will spend a lot of time together and share different activities and spaces, since the project goes beyond our work, and personal enjoyment and feeling like at home is vital to feel happy and be more productive .
Therefore, we are all going to put our effort to fit in with others and have a healthier rcoexistance and relationship as possible, but we must not give up who we are or change our personality, so I can summarize what the keys to me are for me success in this area: naturalness, tolerance, adaptability, respect, open mindedness and good communication.
Because, of course, coexistence will go through different moments over time and will be proposed and modified standards, so you always have to express the discomfort at the time they arise, since staying for oneself only lengthen that discomfort and in the end if they stay for a long time they end up exploding, becoming a bigger problem than it was. But the biggest key is this: Do not do to others things that you would not want them to do to you.
Only in this way can you have a healthy coexistence and have good relations with your roommates, because yes, there are always small things that we do not like and each one of us has our problems, but in front of everything the emotional relationships always go human. Personally I feel fortunate that our coexistence has been quite simple and very natural, and of course, when this project ends I will miss the people with whom I have lived, because it is impossible not to generate affection and also learn of them and about oneself.
Here you can see one of the most important elements, the decoration, generate in the house that feeling of home. It is not very difficult to guess which of these parts is the one that I will miss the most, because yes, the memories remain in the memory, but having them photographed always intensifies them 🙂
On November 21, 2018, I met for the first time, Johana the French teacher in a high school with 3 of her pupils. Today I arrive almost at the end of my project and I continue to visit every Wednesday at this high school to meet Johana, Kamila and Dominika. Sometimes other students join us, it depends because these are extra lessons.
To be honest, it’s not really French lessons!! We discuss,
share music, books, poems… They even made me discover French music that I did
But it goes beyond the meetings in high school, we see
ourselves outside too. To drink a coffee and chat, or just walk and they make
me discover from day to day Sosnowiec. We’re going to eat zapiekanka. And with
Dominika we will run on Sundays, at last I mean… We’re trying!
It’s really nice moments, we even plan to keep in touch with each other! They are in love with France, and as soon as they can, they leave to visit France. Kamila is going to France in October 2019, I will have finished my project here in Poland. But we plan to see us when she’s coming to France.
Due to the large amount of information we have today, I think it is not necessary to explain that a plastic packaging can take more than 150 years to degrade and that when it does, it does not degrade completely, but results in small particles known as microplastics.
Currently more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the sea each year, and scientists are tired of repeating that if we do not reduce our consumption of plastic in a few years there will be more plastic in the oceans than animals. But… is it true that the “plastic cycle” ends up in the sea?
“plastic cycle” ends up in our body. It is not necessary to be a
genius to understand that the 8 million tons of plastic that we throw into the
sea each year, are broken down into smaller plastics that are incorporated into
organisms of many marine animals which end up in our food plate. And that in
turn, we will incorporate into our body, thus affecting other physiological processes
of our body.
details about plastics:
plastic needs an average of 450 years to achieve its decomposition (not
disappearance). This implies that since its invention (in 1860) still no
plastic has been completely eliminated.
millions of tons of plastics are distributed throughout the oceans and are
concentrated in 5 islands in the North and South Pacific, North and South
Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean. The mass of garbage of the North Pacific has
an estimated size of 1,400,000 km².
waste in the Pacific multiplied by 100 in the last 40 years.
3. The seas
of the planet contain between 500,000 and one million species more than any
ecosystem on Earth.
such as albatrosses also believe that the plastic remains that float in the sea
are food. The parents of these birds are giving small pieces of plastic to
5. 90% of
the price you pay for bottled water is the cost of the bottle, the water barely
represents 10% of the total value. The “water companies” do not
manufacture water, they make bottles.
remains have been found in the Mariana Trench at 11,000 km depth.
Now that the plastics have reached our food plates, what are we going to do?
This voluntary service it’s going to be that experience I will tell everyone about. I will tell my friends about that time I lived in the south of Poland, about the people from the 21 different countries I met. About their names and our differences, about how much they thaught me, about the words they showed me in their languages.
I will tell them how much I enjoyed steping the snow every day in winter when I was going to the school and how many times I felt because of it. I will show them pics of the foods I tried but I can’t pronunce. I will tell them about the people I lived with, about our jokes and long talks.
I will explain what an arrival training and mid-term meeting are, and what we did there, about the beers we drank singing and the activities we played together. I will explain them how I introduced my roomate to another volunteer and how I reacted when they told they were gonna get married.
I will tell them about how we were looking for dwarfs in our trip to Wrocław. How I feel when I visited Auschwitz in the coldest day on winter, and how I saw Kraków by the hand of a beautiful woman who showed me her favourite places.
I will tell everyone about that day I went to Chec Republic and I jump on the bridge, over the line that separates both countries. I will tell them about the history of Warszawa, about the nice guide who showed us the buildings and the destrucción that the city suffered. And about that day that a priest gifted me a cake for a photo with me.
I will explain how polish people curse, cause I learnt even that, and how elegants go students to do their exams. And the teachers, if I talk about my time in Poland I must talk about the nice teachers who took care of me, with who I went to dinner and how they surprise to each other.
I will tell them about the spanish teachers and how polish people love spanish culture, how they asked about every detail and compared to their own culture.
I will tell them how it was to go to a polish cinema, how I fought with polish buses and trams until I got so used I could go everywhere by my own. How I solved my problems here and who helped me, how I stayed two days at bed, cause is not always easy to be far from home and how I enjoyed to live outside my confort zone and all I loved. How I answered “Cause I know nothing about Poland” when people asked me why I moved to their country, and I how I explained that I’ve never wanted to think twice instead of living. How I realized how many things I had in my life and I never needed.
I will tell them how I learnt again to do the things I already knew how to do, but I wanted to learn again, to learn better. How I open myself to people with who I couldn’t talk cause we didn’t have a common language, how I helped people with power to be happy, and how I showed to people who lived longer than me, how to live properly. I will tell them how the most innocent question opened my mind to answers I didn’t expect, and how with those answers I hitted the brain of the closest mind I found, and I made a hole, not big, but big enough to let some light enter.
I will tell them how I cricked a wip, how I wore a crown and how I fought a wall. How I made people enjoy the silence for a minute and how I sang so hard that I thought the building was colapsing.
How I lied, and how I lost saying the truth, how I met awful people and how I’m gonna keep in touch with others I need in my life forever.
I will tell them how I got trapped inside a sofa and how I rescued someone from inside a container. How I scared a stranger speaking in spanish and how I found a door behind a bookshelf. How I had to explain what ñ means, through the phone, and how we stop a guy in the middle of the street to take a pic with his shows, or how I met someone who was reading the same book as me in another language. How I spend so many hours sitting in the train that my butt felt sleep and I couldn’t get up for a while, or how the control of the train convinced me to jump in without ticket.
How I saw a railway on the bottom of a lake and how I danced under a spider. I will definitely explain how I change my name for a week and how I didn’t speak in three days, cause it was forbbiden.
I will tell them how my students looked for me on the breaks and how I had to carry even some of them on my arms. How we made a huge puzzle and how I played my role in a show for them. How we watched movies together and how I carried their mistake as mine in front of the teacher, cause they needed.
I will explain about the battle between the shark and the giant octopus and about the student who felt with me on the ice to make me company while the rest were skating properly. And how my roomate and I got lost cause we were do drunk that we were following the GPS with the phone head down, or how I burnt my hand doing laundry.
If I have to talk about my time in Poland I could tell a lot of things, and that’s what I will do.
I remember very well my first day as volunteer in the Horse School. I took a walk in the park of the school with my tutor at school and some pupils with disabilities, and it was asked me if working with these children scared me. I answered that I felt totally at ease. The truth was that I felt a mix of excitement of tension: I wasn’t afraid of the children, I was afraid of myself. I was afraid of realizing over the time of not being able to meet the expectations of this challenge, and I was afraid that I couldn’t provide any contribution for the emotional growth of these children. I forced myself to set aside these irrational fears, because I had come here in Poland very motivated and aware of my potentialities, and I didn’t have reasons to doubt myself, I knew that I was a person with an extraordinary and innate capacity to connect and empathize by all the means, and the fact that I was going to work with children with serious disabilities (and who didn’t even speak english) wouldn’t be a problem. I had just to do what I was able to do without judging myself and giving me the opportunities of making mistakes, because it’s through mistakes that we can understand which parts of us we have to improve, and how we can do it.
Every day at school I make different activities (cooking, gym, drawing, ceramic, workshop, support to children with low abilities, theatre, gardening, hyppotherapy, music therapy) with the pupils of the school, and each of these activities gives me a different kind of fullfillment, even those that at the beginning I liked less (ceramic), beacuse it’s always amazing to see as collaborating with these children with these pupils can make them feel so involved in what they do. And something that I found out is how the hyppotherapy is giving me a new kind of awareness of myself and a new emotional balance, teaching me how to carry my energies and my concentration in what I am doing, setting aside my feelings and thoughts connected to these. Horses are very mighty and forceful animals, and when you work with them you have to be aware that everything can happen in a tenth of a second, and consequently you must pay attention and have the control of the situation, in order to guarantee the security of yourself and the children, and all the people around you. All this makes me enter in an emotional dimension, in which only the horse, the child and me are included. This thing helps me to “feel myself” and to disconnect from all the rest. Moreover I have to say that if I’ve always had the passion of cooking, the desire to make the culinary tradition of my country known to the pupils and the teachers of my school has led me to improve more and more my cooking skills, and it’s always rewarding to see how the pupils are curious to learn, and their enthusiasm and their partecipation is even better than knowing how much they appreciate that I propose (not for being self-celebrative but I consider myself The King in cooking pasta…at least here in Sosnowiec). But the thing that I am more proud of, it’s how I’ve been able to transform some pupils that at the beginning seemed very unwilling to speak and to partecipate, but by providing them some inputs with little gestures and single words (even meaningless), I’ve managed to unblock them. And those meaningless words and gestures are fundamental, and they get worth when we realize how important they are for establishing a connection, built on shared meanings. I think this is the most important thing that this experience has taught me, and it doesn’t concern just the professional field, but it’s an important life lesson: sometimes we need to think about recovering and rediscovering the beauty of simplicity and spontaneity instead of measuring people’s abilities of communication by big, redundant and empty speeches. I couldn’t be more satisfated than now, because learning this lesson allowed me to learn something very important about myself: in my past I used to be very shy and insecure, and sometimes I’m still afraid that this feelings of insecurity can go back to haunting me, but that now I know that if I want I’m not just able to unblock myself, but I’m even able to unblock other people (in this case very problematic people). In conclusion: working in the Horse’s School makes me feel fullfilled as I’ve never felt.
My adventure started in April 2018 as I was in high school and my final National exams were approaching very quickly. I was starting to be scared of going to University but as everyone was doing it I decided to do it too. After a few months of being panicked I came to the conclusion that maybe University was not made for me so this is what I decided to find Opportunities to travel. Very quickly, I ended up finding what was called European voluntary service which is now European solidarity corps, and started applying for many different projects.
I started being very stressed as no organization were accepting me, until one day my friend was with me in a bar and told me that she did EVS last year in Poland. First I was a bit skeptical but she kept telling me that it was an amazing experience and that I should definitely try it. (This happened mid August, and I started my applications in April… I was about to give up) the next day I decided to open my computer and add Poland to my research for volunteering. And within a few days only I have been accepted by the active woman Association of sosnowiec. I eventually had to Skype interview with Monica and Anita showed my motivation my projects my state of mind and got in touch with my mentor a few days after.
Only 2 weeks after this interview I was jumping in a plane to Poland not without a lot of stress.
And here I am in Krakow beginning of September 2018. I get panicked and lost in Kraków… I had to find my way to katowice by myself, on my first minutes of traveling alone. It ended up being something that I laugh about and was actually a good training and life lesson for me.
I came to Poland with many things in mind, such as developing my creativity, developing my first professional skills, meeting new people and finally developing my self confidence and autonomy.
The personal aspect
We live in a very cosy flat, located in Środula. The first month seemed boring and a bit long, I didn’t meet many people or go out so much… Maybe homesickness?
But in October I was invited to a training camp in Ramales de la Victoria, Spain, about non violent communication, emotional management, and power abuse. I met people from Italy, Romania, Spain, and Hungary! This was a very enriching experience and also a big week of crying and hard work. Between the heavy Spanish meals we made activities of mind opening, awareness raising, stereotype breaking, and energisers. In conclusion, it was an amazing week filled with laughter, tears, and human love.
When I came back to our flat in Sosnowiec, the new volunteer was here: Almudena, a very energic, imaginative 24 year old woman from Spain. This is when everything changed, she made me meet new people, we went out to have drinks on weekends and talking with crazy polish youngsters. The social aspect of my stay in Poland took a whole different turn when I started to become friends with Almu!
Still today, she is and will be a very precious friend to me…
I am blessed to have such a good relation with all my flatmates. Together we have fun, decorate our flat to feel at home and learn from each other. Aurélie teached me how to cook, clean, be organised, take care of money, etc… And I taught her English!
It is not always easy, but we always communicate and solve our problems like adults.
Untill now, I have SO MUCH fun around here and truly feel at home.
The professional aspect
I started working in school number 30 of sosnowiec which is a specialized school for disabled children. My mentor was Peter a very strong man that you can see on this picture below.
While working in the school I have been teaching a lot of English, looking after the pupils in corridors so they don’t fight or hurt themselves, and moreover playing a lot with them. This playing included many things from football to basketball and drawing. None of them could actually speak English but there was this constant will from them two communicates with us in the ways they could. It was very funny moments, I keep good memories of it. Sometimes we would go out to the park or to the stadium for some sport events. We even went to see films and jazz concerts.
I have been working with pizza until end of November, but started to be bored and a routine installed itself. Who knows maybe this was not to job for me. Jaime and Almudena, two of my flatmates were working in a art school in Dąbrowa Górnicza. But at some point an incident happened, and Almudena asked me to join her in her projects from Dąbrowa. This is how I ended changing school . And a new project was starting for me.
This school includes no disabled children only very creative and autistic teenagers. As I am a very artistic profile I considered that this would maybe be a more appropriate job for me.
And I was right! Shortly after arriving in this school, I made a lot of friends within the pupils and started launching some crazy projects with Almudena.
The first weeks were pretty calm so my coworker and me spent most of our time with the photography teacher to eventually became our very good friend. His name is Sylwester.
But it was not enough, we needed to create something more concrete, and this is when my coworker came up with the idea of creating a class where the students would just come and experiment their own autistic qualities. This may sound very special but in this school students mostly have to paint still-life, and this is not so interesting, so in these classes we give them the opportunity to experiment abstract art and other informal types of art that they would not be allowed to do in formal classes.
The name of these classes is Art You Lost?
The students were free to choose if they would join this class or no, and we ended up having two different groups each of them including about five or six students.
Since, our groups have been creating paintings of their dreams, drawing games, and even activities such as “make the most HORRIBLE creation you’ve ever made”.
We produced A LOT, and there is still so much to do, so many ideas. We are not even sure if we will have the time to finish all of them!…
I was afraid of many things before coming here. Would I be homesick? Would I be happy with Polish culture? Would the work be too hard? Would I make friends?
In the end, all of those questions went down: I am the happiest boy ever! I made good friends, long lasting friends, learned from myself, learned from poeple, acquired new soft skills, became almost 100% autonomous, discovered so many things, and found true love.
Stanley Williams, a happy and fulfilled boy with orange hair, volunteering in Poland for 11 months.