Thursday morning, I taught my daily English class, and then headed over to the nursery school. I decided to introduce London Bridge and Ring Around the Rosie, which the kids of every age loved! We also worked with the dress/hat/shoes vocabulary, and played some basic games. Its hard to work with that age sometimes, because I’m not really sure what is getting through to them, but I know just the exposure to the English language at such a young age will make it easier for them to learn when they are older. I also decided to do my laundry (considering I only brought a grand total of 28 lbs of luggage…it was necessary!). It was SO EASY…I just threw everything in the washing machine, and then pulled it out and hung it on the lines in the greenhouse to dry! Most definitely less labor intensive than washing everything by hand!
On Friday, I taught my remedial English classes in the morning with Margaret…they really love bingo, so I make sure to bring a game everyday. It’s a great way to get them to practice their vocabulary…whoever wins the game becomes the “caller” and then gets to practice pronounciation! It’s more fun than flashcards, and actually does more to help them learn! I then went to the middle school (equivalent of grades 7-9) in the city of Siedlce to teach some English classes. I had NO idea what level these kids were at or how I was going to teach…but we ended up just talking about anything and everything (in English of course!). The kids actually ranged from 13-16, depending on the class, so they had pretty good language skills and most could hold a basic conversation with ease. We talked about school, music, TV shows, food, future occupations, likes and dislikes, Polish culture vs. American culture, movies, and what they do for fun. It’s been interesting interacting with teens in three very distinct cultures, and finding the similarities and differences! One of the students was celebrating her birthday, so I even got a delicious piece of strawberry cake baked by her parents (who own the “best” and “most-famous” bakery in Siedlce)!
What a busy weekend! Saturday morning we had breakfast around 7:30 am, and then piled in the van to head to Warsaw. Our first stop was the Polin Museum, which chronicles the history of the Jewish people in Poland. It only opened in October of 2014, so we were very lucky to get to visit. It was packed full of interesting information, history, and people! We then headed over to the Old Town area, where we were given 2 hours to wander, shop, and take in the sights. In addition to the beautiful churches, I found a kind of “renaissance fair” with vendors selling everything from lollipops to scarves. It was fun to just be tourists and see what the city has to offer! We met up as a group, and started the drive home. Its only 2 hours from Reymontowka to Warsaw, but with the traffic it took us a little longer. Not a big deal though…I took a nap on the way back!
When we arrived at Reymontowka, we had a little while to clean ourselves up for our formal dinner with the government officials who were here for the celebration. We had a DELICIOUS 4-course meal in the formal dining room, joined by the governor of Siedlce County, the deputy governor, the President of Global Volunteers, and some other local officials. Dorota came up to me as we were finishing dinner and asked if I would sing for the group (since she had heard me singing with Bettina the night before). Well…why not? Slightly nerve-wracking, but definitely something I’m glad I did!
Sunday morning, breakfast was at 8:30 am (WOOO) which allowed us to sleep in…in theory! I was up around 5 am like I usually am, since the sun rises at 4:30 am here (we’re about as far north in this time-zone as you can get!). Ah well, it gives me some time to read a good book…I’m usually so busy during the weekdays that I just crash come bedtime! We attended another beautiful service at the local Catholic church, and came back in time for a quick lunch before getting ready for the gala! We enjoyed speeches by Bud (GV President), the governor of Siedlce, a Polish senator, Corrine (a volunteer who was on the first team of GV’s 25 years ago!), and the former governor (who worked closely with volunteers for years). We were surprised to be recognized individually for being a part of this anniversary team, and were given wooden flowers, carved by local artisans and painted by the kids we teach! The celebration continued with performances by a dance company, a local kid (who’s now part of a pop band) with his former music teacher, and an Polish American rock cover band! After the performances concluded, we headed inside, where they had a buffet of traditional Polish food for the VIPs (ya, I can’t believe that I count as a VIP either!). It was delicious…well, most of it. I stayed away from the smalec, which is basically lard with pieces of pork, that you slather on bread…definitely not my favorite Polish food. We went outside to the bonfire, where they had kielbasa (sausage) and paczki (filled donuts)…DELICIOUS! I enjoyed talking to the other attendees, hearing about their interactions with GV, and just having a good time.
This morning, we played food-themed bingo with the remedial English classes and then worked on opposites…they’re remembering more than they did on Tuesday of last week, so that makes me feel like maybe we’ve helped them to learn something. They’re definitely more comfortable with me as a teacher now…they’re more likely to try to pronounce something or to say the wrong answer! It’s good to see their progress, both in English and learning skills. I’m teaching my first after school program this afternoon, so I’ve stocked up on some basic English games: Apples to Apples Jr., Bingo, Uno, etc. to hopefully get the kids to play games (which is really learning in disguise!).