First week in Poland: Zapiekanki, Architecture and some more

Getting to Gliwice in the time of COVID appeared to be harder than I imagined: a COVID test, 9 hours stuck in the airport, 2 sleepless nights, and here I am!

Gliwice, Poland

During the very first day of my stay, I did what every volunteer is obliged to: the sacred ceremony of the first Zapiekanka, and I can confirm all the legends about it: it really is amazing! 🤤

The city I’m living in, Gliwice, is a small one, but it has amazing architecture and some memorable buildings.

Gliwice, Poland

Apart from getting to know Gliwice, I managed to visit Katowice and Sosnowiec, and made some memorable shots of the cities.

Katowice, Poland
Sosnowiec, Poland

For the following months, I’ll keep you updated with pictures from the cities I visit, and the buildings that impress me, so follow me for an architectural overview of Poland 🙂

Knarik, a volunteer from Armenia in Gliwice

The project is co-funded by the European Solidarity Corps.

My nightmare came true

Hello from my trip to Cracow. This is Ondra, who just before the quarantine fulfilled one of his nightmares. If you ever wondered what happens when you come to a paid highway without any money, listen carefully.

I choose on my navigation to go on the road from Sosnowiec to Cracow without going on the highway. However, I have forgotten to change in the setting that I want to avoid tools. So, at one moment, when I couldn´t turn to the right, the navigation changed its direction towards the high way. I did not realise it until I saw the sign- paid highway to Cracow.

Ok, I thought to myself, one time I can afford to pay the toll. Unfortunately, while I was waiting in the queue, I found out that I had no wallet in my pocket. I started to search, but as I couldn´t find anything, I gave up and prepared myself to face the woman behind the cash register. It is my turn I see how the window slowly goes down, I hear myself in a Czech-Polish tell the women I don´t have anything. I see her face clearly; she is very calm and says I should search more without any stress.

I try my best yet fail, so I look at her and tell her I have nothing to give her. She says she cannot let me pass without paying. Therefore, I tell her what other option do I have. She shrugs her shoulders and says nothing. So, I try to find some app with which I could pay. I do not know how much time has already passed while my mind has reached the highest level of panic. Here comes one guy from the car that I successfully blocked.

He goes to the woman and angrily asks her what has been happening. She responds that I have no money. The driver looks at me: “You idiot, how can you come to a highway without having any money.” I am not in a mood to say anything in Polish, so he says: “wypjerdalaj!” He talks more stupid angry things but turns to the woman and says he will pay it. Then he looks at me, asks and puts his hand to my window, but give me something in return. I say przepraszam (sorry) and tell him I can send the money to his account. He repeats wypjerdalaj again, and shows me to go to hell away from him before he kicks me in the ass. All this mental fight was caused only by 12 zlotys. (2€)

So, I went on, but I was so scared that there will be another terminal on my way that I turned after 30 km and went to breathe a bit of fresh air at the gas station. For the next time, I will have some money hidden in my phone, just in case of an emergency. I advise you the same thing. Sometimes growing up give as some pain before we learn.

Ondra from Our Good School in Katowice

#EUSolidarityCorps #ActiveWomenAssociation

(The project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps)

What we can learn from Janusz Korczak?

Hej, it’s Martyna.

Last time I got deeper in life of really famous teacher and writer Janusz Korczak. I am spending every day with kids. His books and tips that he is giving to teachers and parents are really important and timeless. 

Janusz Korczak was famous pedagogist with Jewish roots. His write works were known even in another countries. He was writing for adult people and also fairy tales for kids. 

Korczak was writing a lot about children’s rights:

1. Children’s right to be what they are

2. Children’s right to the present day

3. Children’s right to respect

Every adult, especially teacher and parent as an authority for kids should respect children’s rights. Basic needs of kids will not change, they was and will be the same. Every kid needs to feel secure, feel loved and be happy. 

First right is about child’s individuality, character, interests, difficulties and talents. About letting the kid be itself and supporting in everything. Korczak was writing that sometimes we are meeting with situation of creating “perfect human” begging from the childhood. We want the kid to be able to do everything that we just taught him. To understand from the first time, and know things without even hearing about this knowledge before. Every fail is punished and it’s always kid’s fault. Acting like this we are missing the goal. Without patience, empathy and understanding we won’t create confident, open, brave and happy human. We always have to take care of the child. Make to him conditions to properly development. We should support the kid with discovering talents and fighting the difficulties. 

“Child is a foreigner, he doesn’t understand language, he doesn’t know directions of the streets, he doesn’t know the law and lifeway. Sometimes he prefers to watch on his own. When he has doubts, he’s asking for a tip and advice. He needs a guide, who gently will answer the question”. This quote of Janusz Korczak gives adults right way to breed a kid. Adult should stay behind the kid and even in front of him. Adult should be next to the kid. I think it’s the right place. We should let the kid take our hand and discover the world with him, look on everything with kid’s eyes.

Children’s right to the present day teaching the adult to let a kid make a decision about activity he want to do during the day. We should respect natural desire of kids to discover. They can remember things better if they experience that. Somethimes 15 minutes of kids own activiti is giving better results than boring sitting in front of the board in school. Kids should decide on their own about things they will manage. Then kids will feel that they have life in their hands, a control. They will be more confident and it also teach them the consequences of decisions. 

About children’s right to respect Korczak is writing a lot. He mentioned about respect to children’s ignorance, failure and tears, property and budget and secrets. If we are teaching the kid a respect for adults, we should also have a respect to kid. We should show the children that we are on the same level, not above them. They are like a monkeys. They are repeating our behavior. So they will treat us as we treat them. 

Every pedagogist, adult and parent should respect all those rights. Korczak in his books showing us how to deal with little human. How to talk, how to behave, how to treat.

In my opinion every adult should save his inner kid. At least part of it. Because we will be able to understand kids better, get into their world. Korczak was writing the books basing on his life, his experience with pupils. 

To Korczak’s books i always come back with pleasure and it gives me new hope and more positive power to work with children.

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

#europeansolidaritycorps

#activewomenassociation

feeling myself in the right path

Sometimes, taking a break looks like a wise and the right decision. While to others, seems like a waste of time. Could I sound pretentious but I was totally these second kind of person. Always proud of my quick and solid decisions. After finishing Bachelor? straight to the University.

I didn’t take even a second to think about it. I was absolutely certain that I wanted to be a journalist. Maybe that’s my problem. I am so sure about my choices, but because I didn’t think about anything else, about other possible options. Or maybe because I was unable to look beyond what the system was telling me to do.

Then, while studying the first year the doubts came. but instead of stop and take a deep breath, I kept going. Lots of friends quit the University or just took a year to decide what they really wanted to do. And I always thought that this option wasn’t for me.

So, after 5 years I finished my degree and I became a journalist. While having always this feeling that something was wrong. Because outside was always something more. Somewhere else to go, something else to explore, to discover to learn about it.

Graphic design, photography, content curator, content creator, audiovisual communication, audiovisual animator, copywriter, photojournalist, musical journalist, art director… Is just thinking about all this possible options and I have this overwhelming feeling…

Well, 5 years ago I didn’t take a deep breath but that’s what I am doing now. It’s difficult to see your friends studying the Masters and working on their professional fields, while you just had stop your career. But I couldn’t forgive me of making the same mistake once again.

Now, I am working on the photography field, creating audiovisual publications and running an Instagram profile. Developing my design and aesthetic instinct while learning more visual and digital tools. I am growing in a professional way, but the most important thing, I am re-discovering my real interested and professional passions.

I am not scared anymore of the future, because this present is giving me the mental tools and the knowledge to fight against it. The patient to focus on my real and long-term needs and not in my current and transient ones. Because doesn’t matter If I take one or two years to decide what Master I want to do, because at the end, it’s gonna be the right one.

Hope all of you are not afraid of stopping everything for a sec. and look into your soul to feeling yourself in peace, walking in the right path 😊 Feeling happy and grateful of doing something that I thought I’ve never could have the chance to do!!

I leave you here some design publications that I’ve made during February for the In situ Foundation!

Paula, Spanish volunteer at Sokolowsko 🌷

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

Głazy krasnoludów – Dwarf boulders

The reserve is located in Zawory – the north-western part of the Stołowe Mountains, in the Central Sudetes, on the slope of a forested hill, by the Jawiszówka stream, about 2.0 km south-east of Gorzeszów. It was established in 1970 by an order of the Minister of Forestry and Wood Industry (Monitor Polski of 1970, No. 25, item 210 9). It is a reserve with an area of ​​9.04 ha, created to protect rock formations and rare species of protected plants and natural plant communities. The reserve was established mainly to preserve and protect natural forms of weathering of sandstone from the Upper Cretaceous age. There are Gorzeszów Skałki, forming forms resembling figures, walls, towers, mushrooms, animals, made of sandstone and marls carved by water. The uprising is defined as the time of the Upper Cretaceous, i.e. 70-100 million years ago. Like other nearby rock outcrops, the Dwarf Boulders are also lumps of sandstone eroded by the sun, water and wind. There is a car park and a shelter next to the rocks. Visiting Gorzeszowskie Skałki does not require any technical skills.

Izabela, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in In Situ Foundation in Sokolowsko.This project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.#EuropeanSolidarityCorps

It is worth seeing vol. 3

Wrocław is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. I spent several weeks there and I can say that I know the city quite well. I will recommend you some places that I really enjoyed.

  1. City of Dwarfs is one of the names under which Wrocław can be found. One of the ideas for spending an interesting day in Wrocław can be a hike along the trail of Wrocław dwarves. To see them, you do not have to make much effort as there are almost 400 of them and they are located in different parts of the city. 
  1. The Market Square in Wrocław is one of the most beautiful old town squares in Poland, and one of the largest in Europe. Beautiful architecture, atmospheric tenement houses, many restaurants and places worth visiting make it the most popular attraction in Wrocław. The most valuable monument is the Old Town Hall, which is the largest and oldest town hall in Poland. If you’re curious to see the square from above, make sure to climb the tower of the Gothic Basilica of St Elizabeth, located behind the townhouses. 
  1. The Racławice Panorama is the largest existing painting in Poland. The monumental work, 15 metres high and 114 metres long, surprises with its size and the realism of the scenes depicted.  Jan Styka, Wojciech Kossak and other painters spent nine months in the years 1893-1894 creating a work that takes us back to 4 April 1794. We are transported to the battlefield of Racławice and watch the troops under the command of Tadeusz Kościuszko win over the Russians.
  1. The Centennial Hall (German: Jahrhunderthalle) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Poland. It is considered to be one of the most important works of 20th century world architecture. It is also one of the symbols of Wrocław, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome. Next to it is a garden with fountains and a Japanese garden. 

Wrocław is a magical city and even just walking through the streets or by the river should give you plenty of entertainment.

Dominika, polish volunteer, In Situ Foundation

#eusolidaritycorps

#activewomenassociation

Market Square in Wroclaw, view from the tower of St. Elizabeth Basilica in Wroclaw

It has always been me.

One Sunday in February I went to the park, it was sunny and people have finally come out of their dens. Although everything was so white that it seemed motionless, life has begun to flow around me. As I stood in line for my coffee, I watched the lives of others, their movements, listened to their incomprehensible speeches, and I noticed that the color of the roses and the heart-shaped balloons broke the white of the snow. In fact, I realized that it was Valentine’s Day. A girl caught my attention: she walked among the people, with a white rose in her hand and a smile that only God knows how much I was envying her. Who knows if she bought it or someone gave it to her. Actually, I didn’t care much, she was happy and definitely in love. For me, this girl was like the madelaine for Proust: she suddenly opened the door of memories, which I usually keep tightly closed.

I’ve been getting a present from my boyfriend for almost eleven years. A flower, a chocolate or a book. It is not that he does them for me only on the 14th of February, but here, for Valentine’s Day he has never forgotten. To be honest, I’ve never noticed it, or rather, I’ve always taken that little attention for granted. If only I had first dwelt on the meaning of the gestures of love, I would have saved myself a lot of pain. Immersed in my thoughts, I continued walking through the streets of Szczecin until I came across a flower shop. The shop is small and is right on the street, the two florists greeted me from inside and in a second, I decided to buy two white roses. One for me, the other for my roommate.

It is the first rose I give myself and perhaps it is the first gift I give to myself in a long time. The gifts have always been given to me by others and when they asked me “what do you want for Christmas? And for the birthday? ”, I never had the answer. At first, I thought it was the pleasure of surprise, of seeing what they thought I wanted, but today I think differently. Perhaps I have never been able to answer because I actually did not have the answer. I have this habit of never knowing what I want and not because I don’t think about it or because I live for the day, but simply because I prefer things to happen to me. Much less responsibility, you know? Deciding what you really want requires a deep knowledge about yourself and self-confidence. Stating what you need in front of people requires a deep connection to your true inner self. I believed, thanks to my school and NVC trainings with amazing people, I was in a good point. Maybe, yes, most of the time. But, when it comes to the people I love and feel inside me, the clarity that usually distinguishes me, still disappears. I loose the empathy with myself, focusing only on others. I feel responsible for everything they do or say, as if they depend on me. While I was blaming others to put on my shoulders responsibilities, I figured out that it was me. It has always been me reproaching, blaming myself for everything. I was so tired about taking others as my responsibilities that I didn’t have energy to take responsibility of myself, but overall, to care about me! Now, that I’am here, this way isn’t working anymore so it’s time to move on. Time to forgive myself for expecting to worry about things clearly beyond me, to thank old Giulia – because despite all this, she did great – and openly greet the new one. Or better, the one that I always have been but I preferred to hide since I was too scared. Be gentle with myself now, connecting with my trues needs and caring about them is still delicate and I need practice, if I want to thrive my relationships. This white rose may be the beginning. May I have the girl’s smile in Jasne Blonia everyday as I love me. So that, I may have empathy for others.

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

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#EUSolidarityCorps

#ActiveWomenAssociation

Flat 4, 5th floor, room 28

A place I call home NOW, so narrow that it’s like the walls are embracing you into warm hugs, with a cute, small kitchen and a build-in stove with her keen personality, a living room with a couch I call bed, a drawer, and a closet with a gallery on the back. A wooden, wheeled coffee table, and two arm chairs that holds a lot of late-night deliberations. A bathroom with a demanding toilet that doesn’t like it if you sit with your full weight on it, it pinches your ass if you do, a bathtub with no cover curtains which obligates you to squat if you just want to take a shower and don’t want to leave the floor completely wet, and also a very ‘ancient’ washing machine that likes to protest and make a lot of noise when you give him dirty clothes. Let me not forget, one very small bedroom, with one bed, one closet, one drawer which is also a bed, a small white table, and a door to the terrace. This particular room is occupied by my dear Italian flat mate, it has a sliding Chinese door, that can be closed, but is never closed. This is actually a flat for one person, shared by two. No privacy, no sound proof walls or doors, creaking wooden floor, one entrance doorway with two doors which has 5 locks in total, and a sweater hanger, that I hate so much, because it’s made of dead dear legs. I absolutely love this flat, with all it’s imperfect perfections, because it all makes sense when you see it with the eyes of love.

In the beginning I was so grateful to be here, and for that I couldn’t complain, but the flat was challenging, because it made me feel self-conscious and I was experiencing it in full. Of course, you may acknowledge the unfitting things first, because I had my ass pinched, back pain from the couch bed, screamed at by the stove and washing machine, sat down three times on the bar-chair and it broke, and the bathtub compelled me to squat. There were no separating walls where I was sleeping. I had no privacy at all, it was me being exposed to the living room, to the kitchen and to a stranger. A stranger that didn’t let me in to who she truly is, and it was difficult, to fathom her motives.

After three weeks of arriving in Szczecin, my sending organization saw where I was staying and really wanted me to change flat, and find something more fitting and reasonable so I may have more privacy. I didn’t think much of the flat until it was pointed out, that it looks uncomfortable. After that I felt the flat twice as bad for one week more.

After a conversation with my flat mate and our emotional supporter about the flat, we came to understand that her and me are the complete opposite of each other. She is so down to earth, trying to make me touch the ground, and I am so up in the sky, trying to make her touch the stars. I learned that day that she was afraid of me. Afraid to break me, because to her I am a Chinese ceramics doll, that can break easily. I didn’t tell her, but to me she seemed like a strong concrete dam holding the great canyon waters, afraid she would break me. Even funny how I am a very optimistic person, trying to see the positive, and afraid of expressing the negative, and she prefers to express the negative, because she is afraid of expressing the positive. Exactly like a Ying Yang.

Some days after this meet up, we played a game called the points of you, and that, that was when I recognized her. I observed how her waters flow beautifully over the dam, and I understood why she had her walls up. The authenticity that she bares, is as beautiful and strong as roots that grows deep beneath the ground to hold a strong stomp of a tree. Me, well, I broke my pieces myself, and show that I can patch myself back up with silver and gold. I may be delicate, but I can be strong, to deform and reform myself. I learned that we didn’t have to reach out for each other and pull each other on the opposite direction, but only by exposing ourselves authentically can be enough for the other to understand.

Who would have thought that learning her language just by embracing our senses  made it easier to learn the language of the flat? The flat is the way it is, and all had to happen the way it happened, for us to dance in this beautiful play, with the theatrical name; flat 4, 5th floor, room 28, It helped creating trust, communication, diversity, and solidarity. Which I strongly believe is the purpose of this project, and as we are in a democratic school, without knowing, we are actually living democratically, with no made-up rules, but just by respecting each other, we tango, like two flamingos. She is family, and this is our temporary home.

Cherly-ann Franken, volunteers in Szkoła Droga Wolna, Szczecin.

What have you done during christmas? Nothing special, you know, just a quarantine.

It was the 22nd of december, the first day of christmas holidays. Due to the covid situation, I decided to stay these days in Poland, and celebrate them with people from here. After spending the whole day with Olek, in the afternoon a bad news arrived. 

There is a kid in the kindergarten with symptoms, so, you should do a 10 days of quarantine.

These words broke me inside. I went from spending Christmas with my family, to celebrating here, and after then spending 10 days alone in my flat. 

My plans here were to spend christmas night with the Olek family, and the day after with my tutor and her family. I was motivated to share those days with them, really. 

As we spent the day together with Olek, obviously, I wouldn’t go to their family home. So, I started to go home, alone, with a lot of thoughts in my mind. Suddenly, Olek called me, and he told me to stay in his flat. 

We have been the whole day, and it is christmas. We will do the quarantine together.

During the quarantine, we did a lot of productive and nice things. Two of the things I am most proud of are the following ones;

The first few days, we organised, tidy and cleaned a room from his flat, and we converted it into a music studio. We call it the “Studio Disaster”!

It was then when we started to do a lot of music production. Some of them were good, some awful… until one day we connected and we felt inspired. I took my guitar, he started singing, and once we had the chords and voice melody I produced it with the computer. It was awesome how we felt, we were really into this song. 

After, we had the idea to record a video while doing a live dub session. And so we did! PRAWDA is the truth, is how we work, is how we understand music, how we share it. 

We finished the quarantine on new years eve. We decided to go to their parents home and spend the night there. In Spain it is typical to eat 12 grapes when it is 31st of december midnight. Before going there we went to buy them, and we celebrated the new years eve in a Polish-Spanish style! It was a nice day.

What seemed a complete disaster of christmas, at the end was awesome. We had good days together!

Roger from Catalonia. Volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in Forest Kindergarten Borchówka (Fundacja Dmuchawiec), in Łódź.

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#EUSolidarityCorps

#ActiveWomenAssociation

Magic castle

Hi everyone! Next weekend I visited my friends in Krakow and I literally fell in love with this city.The most interesting place for me was Wawel Castle and while we were visiting this awesome place , my friend told me a story about the castle.I searched it on internet and I wanted to share it with you.

Once upon a time, when King Krakus was reigning in Krakow and the Wawel Castle was his residence, people led calm, happy lives. But one day people heard strange noises from the underground of the castle and discovered that a dragon lived there!

The dragon was very hungry and demanded food from the residents. If they didn’t grant them with food, the dragon was simply devouring them. It created havoc everywhere. The whole city was terrified and begged the king for a solution.

King Krakus was scared as well and wanted to stop the madness. He was thinking for quite some time and came up with a competition – whoever defeats and kills the dragon will marry his daughter, princess Wanda and win the crown. 

A lot of brave men turned up to fight with the beast, but none of them succeeded. The dragon was becoming stronger and stronger and killed every daredevil that was on his way. People started thinking there was no hope for killing the monster.

And then Skuba, a poor shoemaker, came up with a trick. He decided to use the dragon’s gluttony. He took a sheep’s skin and filled it with hay and… sulphur. Skuba slipped the sheep to the dragon.

The beast ate the sheep. The sulphur made it so thirsty, that it ran to the Vistula river. It drank, and drank, and drank until it exploded!

The castle was totally amazing, but not my photography skills 😦

Chichak, volunteer in special need school number 4.

The project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#EUSolidarityCorps #ActiveWomenAssociation