I’ve been busy getting acclimated, but I finally have time to sit down and write a little about my experience here so far! The flights went off without a hitch, and I was able to get a pretty good night’s sleep. I had a short layover in Brussels, but was in Warsaw before I knew it! Dorota (the country manager for GV’s program in Poland) met all the volunteers at the airport and took us on the hour ride to our home base, the Remontowka Manor House. We were greeted at the door with shots of Polish vodka, and were shown to our rooms. I’m in a room by myself, complete with a desk, bedside table, and bathroom (with hot showers!!!!!!). After just a few minutes to get settled, we headed down to the dining room for lunch. Lunch is the largest meal of the day in Poland, and we filled up on soup, pork with mushrooms, potatoes, and two cabbage salads.I quickly realized that I would NEVER be hungry during my time here! We toured the grounds of the manor house, and I took the opportunity to take some pictures with my new camera (thanks Mom & Dad!). After a dinner of bread, cheese, and pierogi (YUM!), I went upstairs to my room and fell asleep (around 7 pm…never done that before!)
On Sunday, we attended mass at the village’s Catholic church, a beautiful wooden building built in 1776. The mass was entirely in Polish, but I very much enjoyed the beautiful hymns and organ music. I’ve realized (after attending mass in three different languages — Kiswahili, Spanish, & Polish), that it really is possible to follow mass no matter the language. The Catholic mass truly is universal! Lunch after church was delicious (again) and we spent the rest of the day in orientation meetings, discussing team goals, characteristics of a good team, and skills! We were also given our respective assignments for our time here. Every morning, I work at an elementary school with small groups of 5th and 6th grade students who need remedial English help. On Monday and Wednesdays, I have an afterschool program at an elementary school with varied ages providing extra games and activities for English practice. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work at the local kindergarten, teaching short English segments to 5 groups (from 1-4 years old). On Fridays, I travel into Siedlce to work with a school with their afterschool program. AND on Tuesday afternoon, I tutor a 17-year-old student. Later Sunday afternoon, we met with the teachers and school representatives who we would be working with. They were very excited for us to start, and thankful that we are here to help!
On Monday morning, I planned my lessons for the elementary and kindergarten classes. In the afternoon, the entire volunteer team headed to Siedlce to meet with the County of Siedlce Deputy Governor. After our meeting, we went on a tour of Siedlce with Magda, Izabela, and Monika. We visited the post office and mall, and saw many landmarks, such as the museum, the statue of Pope John Paul, the cathedral, & the university building. We were welcomed home to another delicious dinner, and headed to bed in preparation for tomorrow.
Tuesday was chaotic and overwhelming, but in the best possible way. The morning elementary class was shy, but slowly opened up more and more as we got them to talk about their favorite foods (pizza and ice cream), favorite types of music (rap and pop), and favorite classes (PE and break). As soon as those classes ended, I hopped in the car to head over to the kindergarten where I covered my shoes (they’re very wary of germs) and jumped right in. The Level 3 kiddos (3-years-old) love songs, puppets, and games, and we worked on teaching them the words “dress” and “shoes.” The Level 4 class (4-years-old) surprised me by singing a song the teacher had prepared saying “We love Meghan, Thank you Meghan” which just touched my heart. I introduced “London Bridge,” and we had a great time singing and working on their VERY basic English. In the Level 2 class (2-years-old…you get the pattern), we used the Cheeky Monkey puppet to introduce me, and then to practice “dress” and “shoes.” The Level 1 class was ADORABLE, and practiced counting to three by throwing blocks into a bag! My time there ended with about a half-hour of lesson planning with Olga, and I headed back to Reymontowka for lunch. I worked with the 18-year-old student in the afternoon, and we had a great time talking about school, sports, music, travel, food, family, and just about everything else. We had such a good time talking, we almost forgot that we were actually practicing her English skills!
This morning, I woke up to my alarm at 6 am, but fell back asleep (oops!) only to wake up in a panic at 7:11 am…I’m supposed to leave for school at 7:30 am. I jumped into some clothes and ran downstairs, only to see EVERYONE sitting at the breakfast table staring at me….but, I was ON TIME (woohoo!). I headed off to school, and had wonderful morning classes: we played bingo and practiced opposites, playing a game that involved throwing a ball around that all the kids loved! My afterschool program was rescheduled because the teacher in charge had to attend a church retreat, so I had the entire afternoon off. I used the time to workout, clean up my room, and go on a beautiful walk (during which I took a ton of pictures!).
I’m very excited for the rest of this week and the weekend; we’re having a celebration gala because we are the 25th anniversary team of Global Volunteers in Poland! Next weekend, I’ll be travelling to Krakow to see Auschwitz and the salt mines, as well as tour the city!
I’ve made it!
Welcomed with vodka! (I’m not allowed to partake…don’t worry mom!)
My fabulous little room 🙂
Our dining area…so very different from the comedor at Amigos!
Dinner…Polish food is FABULOUS!
A selfie with the pond…since no one was around to take the picture for me!
Another building at the manor house…complete with unsuspecting volunteers!
Loving this camera and the beautiful pictures that it takes! 🙂
The inside of the beautiful village church!
Our group with the Deputy Governor of Siedlce!
Sitting with a statue of a famous Polish author…apparently brings good luck!
The statue of Pope John Paul in Siedlce
The Siedlce University building
The cathedral in Siedlce
The inside of the galleria (mall) in the city…doesn’t it look like Fair Oaks?
Another delicious lunch…lunch is the largest (and tastiest) meal of the day!
The beautiful Polish countryside!