Love as an international language

I believe communication is one of the bases for a good education, and not sharing the same language with the students at school is definitely challenging. Being a volunteer in a Polish school has taken me out of my comfort zone and has made me look for other ways of communication apart from the verbal one.  In the beginning, it was hard to connect with children as I was a total stranger to them who was not speaking their language. But little by little, they started coming to me to say hello, sit in my laps or show me some staff. It is impressive to observe how they manage to explain something with gestures or objects. For me it has been really exciting to discover the many possibilities we have to communicate with them, like using Google Translator, especially with the oldest ones, asking the teachers to translate, using all kind of gestures or using a mix of English and Polish.

Some weeks ago, Ari and I started teaching some English and Spanish lessons, and it has been an amazing opportunity. Even their low level of English and our low level of Polish, we always find a way to understand each other. Having some routines like asking them how they are, how is the weather and singing some songs makes them feel confident and participate in the lessons. We always try to use videos, songs and stories to make it more significant for them. Moreover, we normally use games or crafts to provide an active learning.

Even the communicative difficulties we may face in our school daily life, love is an international language, and feeling a loved member of this community is amazing. I hope this connection keeps growing and we can continue learning together.

Alba from Catalunya, volunteer in Wolno Mi in Gliwice

This project is co-founded by European Solidarity Corps

#EurpeanSolidarityCorps #ActiveWomanAssociation

Trip to Wrocław

Hey it’s Ari,

This has been my third month in Poland and so far, I have had an amazing experience. I am really enjoying school, and I am learning much about this educational system. However, I have also had time to travel around Poland, and so I want to explain one of the trips I have done this month.

In these months we have had the opportunity to travel quite a lot, we got to see Wrocław, Warsaw, Krakow, Poznań, and discover Gliwice a little more. All these trips have been a little different, either because the city was new to us or because instead of just going the volunteers in Gliwice other volunteers also joined.

However, I want to focus on the trip we made to Wrocław, also known as the city of the gnomes. We went there at the end of September, and we got to visit different parts of the city and go on two Free tours. In both tours, we learned more about the city and the people who live and used to live there, and the history behind all the gnomes.

The History of the gnomes began in the 1980s, when a group called the Orange Alternative started a series of protests against authoritarianism and censorship. This group used absurdist art and images of clowns, elves, and dwarves to fight against the government, on those acts they use to wear an orange hat similar to the one the gnomes wear, and so the images were created.

In 1989 the group disbanded, and Polish Communism deteriorated, because of that an artist of the city decided to create a gnome to make it their tribute, and so he created the first and largest gnome in the city known as “Papa Kransal”.

Papa Kransal

Nowadays, there are hundreds of gnomes all around the city and each represents either a tradition or a show in the city. Because of that I really recommend going there especially during December since they have a Christmas market known to be amazing.

Finally, if you visit the city, you cannot leave without eating at Konspira, an amazing restaurant located next to the center of the city.

Alba and I in Konspira

Ari from Catalonia, in Wolno Mi a democratic School in Gliwice

This project is co-founded by European Solidarity Corps

#EurpeanSolidarityCorps #ActiveWomanAssociation

Organization skills level up ;)

During this year I managed my activities regarding to my work and my free time in a calendar that I made in Excel and I kept updated in Google Drive. This calendar has been very useful mostly when I needed to plan new activities for the future and see how I can manage all of them.

I also have improved my skills in managing my expenses and income. To do this, I created a table in Excel where I have been including all the expenses and income to make a record of what I spend the most on and what I spend the least on. It is very useful to see the overalls and think about what you are doing in excess comparing to other activities where money is involved.

Andrés, from Spain, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in In Situ Foundation in Sokolowsko.

This project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

Local Polish people and I

During this year I have had the opportunity to meet part of the Polish local people of Sokolowsko, either young and older people. There are two types of locals, people from Sokolowsko and people who moved to Sokolowsko in the past 10 years. Regarding this, as being involved in social and cultural activities with both groups of people, it was very interesting to know their different points of view about Sokolowsko, the reasons of living here, the ways of living, their local discussions about the fact of that Sokolowsko is getting popular and more external activities are taking place here, so also how these activities are influencing the village and the surroundings. This fact is called gentifrication.

On the other hand, it was also very interesting to spend the Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Sokolowsko, so I was able to experience it with only Polish people and following their traditions. I also enjoyed a lot to have international dinners and showing my cooking skills to the Polish people, so we could exchange our knowledge from our different cultures and gastronomy.

Andrés, from Spain, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in In Situ Foundation in Sokolowsko.

This project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

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My work and my achievements

I have been involved in four festivals: Kulturalna Czerwcówka w Sokołowsku (3-6/06/21), Hommage à Kieslowski (27/6/21 – 28/8/21), Konteksty Sokołowsko (29/7/21 – 1/8/21) and Sanatorium of Sound (13-15/8/21). During these festivals, I was working mainly as a Sound Technician and a lot of physical work too related to the preparation of the festivals.

In the first festival, I was working as a sound technician and team leader of the volunteers, so the producer and the head technician were in close contact with me and I had to manage the time efficiently, to take decision and solve any problem quickly from the beginning till the end of each day.

On the other hand, the other volunteers and I have been working as a team on the creation of a digital map of Sokolowsko. Each of us had different tasks and ideas. We were interviewing local people asking about their stories, their past in this village, taking pictures about architecture details, ruins and historical buildings. During this project I recorded soundscapes in speceific places in Sokolowsko, to be uploaded in the digital map. I was very interesting to excercise active listening in different spots of the area and at the same time the work of storing and cataloguing all the sound recordings.

Andrés, from Spain, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in In Situ Foundation in Sokolowsko.

This project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

Feeling good lonely is important

I have been living alone for a year in a tiny studio located in a tiny village surrounded by beautiful and inspirational forest and mountains. I have spent most of my free time hiking around and travelling. Regarding to this, I think I have learned a lot on a personal level, to face loneliness and fear, and live happily surrounded by simplicity, to take care of my mental and physical wellbeing. I also have been learning a lot by myself about the surrounding nature and working on my own projects during my free time. In conclusion, I have learn that I can easily feel good and happy when I am alone for a long period of time and enjoy as usual, feeling more powerful and socially independent.

Andrés, from Spain, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in In Situ Foundation in Sokolowsko.

This project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

4 reasons to stay positive even when you feel lost during traveling!

Sometimes when we are travelling we feel that we are almost close to the place we are searching for but…
Maybe it is time to re-think this experience!

4.you are setting yourself out of comfort zone
3.you develop your orientation skills
2.you socialize by asking random people for info you need
1.you observe from an other perspective the view of the street or landascape you got lost

Just try to ejoy this ”lost” feeling even your life-journey…
We earn more than we expect in the end.


Sofianna from Greece.

October

07.november.2021

Hey there, Maria here, three months here already! so fast and also, walking around in shorts and t-shirt does seem like a far away memory. Right now the sky is gray and the sun comes down at 16h, we hear the wind and there are not many leaves left in the trees.

This past month my body claimed the downtime it needed, first I was overwhelmed with the weeks ahead, packed with meetings, administrative paperwork and my personal projects until eventually I got sick (I saw it comming) and that gifted me some rest.

In school I am spending more time in preschool, which I appreciate because it is my favourite age, language is definitely a barrier and yet sometimes it is so surprising how much we can do together with no words, especially gardening related activities, they are much more self explanatory than I imagined, I just start doing and children join and do the same as I (weeding, mulching, building a flower bed with briks, moving earth from one place to another).

– Flower bed where we planted some tulips and other bulbs and plants, to remember that the spring will come! –

We also had an opportunity to exchange and discover how different cultures honor and remember the death at the end of October, a colleague shared how to make masks for the occasion from wood and I showed them a glimpse of how Dia de muertos is celebrated in Mexico.

Definitely my success story of the month was making a fire by myself, I didn’t know it was so easy and there was always someone who knew how to do it so I hadn’t found the chance to try, but last tuesday everyone was busy doing something else and I repeated what I had seen and bam! a fire, felt so happy and self reliant with my new skill.

Unfortunately I haven’t expored much more of Lodz or anywhere else in Poland, school hours plus my personal project are all I do, hopefully I will finish the latter this week and will have some time to discover new places and people, only work is not very sustainable for me.

The last few days my body decided something was too much and I started having sciatic nerve pain, I’ve had it before and its not fun, it’s a little scary because it can be long and its an obligatory break. I’m thankful the school has been supportive of my off time and wish I get better soon. I have my hopes on some great accupuncturist I’ve met thanks to it.

Next month I look forward to being pain free and crafting some bird feeders with the children, continue to learn polish as the kids learn english and to see how so much night is going to affect school rythms and activities. Also I hope to find some time and energy to discover the city I am in, do some not work related activities and meet people outside work.

We will see what the future brings, for now I wish you a merry eclipse season, nourishing times and lots of baking. I will write back in a month to share how fall is treating us here. Oh, by the way, context, I am volunteering in Lodz, in a democratic preschool and school in the forest, within a European Solidarity Corps mission.

Cheers!

Final article – Dominika

I spent last year in Sokołowsko, where I was one of the volunteers of the In Situ Foundation. Sokołowsko is a small village, from where it is closer to the Czech border than to a larger town. You can walk to the border across the mountains in 15 minutes. The village is surrounded by mountains and small rivers that cross them. Many animals can be spotted in them – deers, mouflons and if you are not too lucky – even wolves.

At the Foundation, I was Bożenna Biskupska’s assistant and carried out all the work she commissioned. I learnt a lot of things during that year which will be useful in my normal work. I also had the opportunity to take part in all possible cultural events. During the holidays we had three big festivals, several exhibitions and meetings with amazing people – including Olga Tokarczuk.

I am glad that I took part in this voluntary service, I will miss Sokołowsko and the people I met there. I will definitely return there again, but unfortunately as a tourist.

Dominika, polish volunteer, In Situ Foundation in Sokołowsko

BACK TO BEING KIDS

Hey, it’s Ari. It’s been two months already since I got to Gliwice. And my daily life routine has changed a lot from the one I had during the summer in Spain. That’s why I wanted to write this article and talk about how sports have always influenced my life and how different it is this year.

I have been doing many sports since I was very young, for instance I started cross country skiing when I was almost three and do still ski. I have even competed for some time but now I just do it as a hobby. I usually train also during summer however this year it’s different. It’s different because I do not have the materials to do so here in Poland and, I have no idea where I could go cross country skiing.

Unfortunately, this is not the only sports I do not do in Poland. Back home I also go climbing a lot, specially on autumn, however there year it won’t be possible. I always go climbing and skiing with my family, so I am looking forward to the winter break, so I can go back home for some time and go skiing with them.

However, this is not all bad, because I was unable to do the sports I am used to I decided to search for others. That’s how I came across some indoor swimming pools, it had been so long since I had gone swimming. It was a sport I use to do a lot when I was younger, I would go to swimming classes, meet some friends to go swimming but at some point I stopped. I was not sure if it would be a good idea, however my roommate Alba encouraged me to go and so we did.

It was an amazing experience, getting to do something I had always loved as a child again brought me so much joy. That why we have decided to make it a usual thing and feel like when we were younger.

Ari from Catalonia, In Wolno Mi school a democratic School in Gliwice

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