When I opened my laptop to start writing, then I realized it is the end. But a beginning of new adventures. When I first stepped into Poland, I felt a bit nervous for sure. But then I met with other volunteers in my first week. They helped me a lot in every way. Then my coordinator, Monika, from AWA made me feel less stressed. She helped me a lot along the way. On this photo you see volunteers visiting my school in a festival day.
Then I came to Tychy which a lot of people said oh it is not a good city, I hope you won’t get bored and stuff. But I absolutely loved Tychy. Such a quite, my taste city. I love nature. I am not saying it as it is not important. Nature is a big part of our lives. I was glad to be here. I met lots of great people such my neighbors. With my broken Polish, they understood me very well and we got communication amongst us going on. I will miss them as well.
Right down on this photo girls at school drew my day of look. I was super happy as you can see. Kids taught me a lot of new things starting from emotions.
Now, let me talk about my first day at Wolna Szkola Dzika. They welcomed me with a big ceremony and hug. Everybody gave me a hug. Kids were amazing. They got used to me so easily. My tutor, Ola, was a total helper and a great friend. I learned a lot from her, I spent my great time with her. About other teachers at school. They were great as they are.
I need to add a part about parents at our school. We were glad that they were open to meet up, have fun together. We were playing games or tasting local food in a restaurant. On this photo at the following, we were invited to one of parents’ house. We had such a great time together. Having a chat, eating, playing. Right after this moment, we spent time in a lake swimming. Yes, we were winter swimming. That was my first time, however it was worth everything. I am glad I had this experience.
Thank you for making me feel like home. Everybody I know here. I am leaving gladly with great moments.
I travelled by myself for the first time last year . That trip lasted eighteen days around 10 cities in Europe included Krakow, Auswitch and Warsow in Poland. When I finished that amazing experience I swore to myself to do this kind of trip again.
Effectively I did it again (this time only three days :p) and this time in one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, Wroclaw.
It`s Friday and my bus go out at 4 pm from Katowice, I arrive to the bus station ten minutes before but surprisingly the bus is delayed, unfortunately two hours delayed (well this is the worst thing that happened to me in whole trip, so actually this was great).
Before I arrive to Wroclaw, my expectations about the city was high because many people recommended me to visit the city of gnomes (I will tell you that story forward) and the city didn´t disappoint me.
The main day of the trip was on Saturday. How not I started the day than taking part in a Spanish Free Tour in order to know more about the history of Wroclaw. We were a little “spanish army” composed by more than twenty spanish people and we all together spent more than two hours walking around the city.
Did you know that Wroclaw belonged to German Empire until 1918, when finished the first world war? After the first world war, Germany was obligated to leave the Silesian region (south west of Poland) in favor of Poland, but unfortunately several years before to the second world war, Nazi Germany recovered that territory again and after that, whole Poland suffered one of the worst periods of its history until 1945. In 1945 took place two agreements in Yalta and Postdam, as a consequence Poland got all Silesian region again and more than five hundred thousand german people were obligated to move to Germany. Then many polish people from some regions moved to Silesia, specially Wroclaw, with the goal to repopulate the territory. Do you guess what that mean? All the city was full of nazi and german symbols that new people took care to remove and to start a new period without german traces. The bad thing was the communist Russia took the control of Poland until 1980, then finally Poland got the independence of the country.
Where is the story of the gnomes? Wait, wait… There I go! In 1981 social movement called “orange alternative” was born in Wroclaw, whose symbol was a gnome with an orange hat and one flower, that movement was created as a protest against communist regime.
In 2001 the mayor of Wroclaw put the first gnome figure as commemoration of that movement and actually there are more than 250 gnomes around the city now.
I think, somehow it is necessary to understand the history of Poland to get to know the life style of polish people and the search of their own identity after so much years under control of other hands.
Fortunately, in that free tour I had the opportunity to learnt this kind of things and also met new people. Then, I joined to them for a lunch in a traditional polish restaurant and shared some drinks at night as well. This city has a lot of young people and plenty night life!!
By the way! It was very curious for me the fact of seeing how the lamplighter turned on the gas lampposts at street, an old job that began in XIX century and nowadays the city take care still.
After all I can say that was a great small trip where I got to learn more about the polish history and culture and moreover I was lucky to meet new amazing people who I spent a very grateful time.
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.