My volunteering project in Poland, Silesia in frame of the project Cross-border culture and entrepreneurship was my hosting organizations (fundacja rozwoju społeczeństwa przedsiębiorczego) proposition. There are two main directions of proposed activities:
I) Promotion, development and dissemination entrepreneurial attitudes:
1) Creation together with the organization and carrying out Entrepreneurial Point:
2) Dissemination and promotion volunteering
3) Promote entrepreneurial attitudes
4) Promotion, development and dissemination of active social and professional integration through the exchange of good practices from volunteer’s home country
5) PR and promotion activities
6) teaching English and your native language local inhabitants.
II) Promotion of European Union and European Solidarity Corps Program
Thus, I’m gonna share you all my volunteering adventure and experiences. For more detail information about project, such as accommodation, recruitment and selection processes please go and check by clicking over here.
The adventure of my life began in January. Since then, I have been working at the Municipal Cultural Center in Wola.
My first week in Poland started with an unexpected invitation for ice-skating with another volunteers from the same organization and with coordinators. Honestly, that was my first time on ice at the age of 19 and that was totally amazing. I did it perfectly. This was a great opportunity to get to know other volunteers and have connection with them. We went for hot chocolate with marshmallows at the café and enjoy it a lot! Later, I was invited at Women’s Party and it was unforgettable day for sure. Johanna, the director of Gok, was making varieties of beverages for me and my flatmate Fabaina from Italy.
I had the opportunity to participate in many activities with kids and even though I did not understand a word in Polish, the ladies working at GOK were very patient and supported me at every step. Fortunately, as part of the project, I quickly started a Polish language course and all those strange words with a lot of consonants made sense. Time to time, I was learning more and more about Poland, especially about Wola. I spent time with children at jump city and at aqua park. Those trips were organized by Gok and I was invited. So, as you can guess we had opportunities to visit entertainment and historical places in the region and the surrounding area, meet children and local community.
I had the opportunity to conduct English language lessons and was able to run my own workshops at my work place. To point out, preparing for online lessons were harder than I thought. There were three classes at the early beginning but then it has changed and was only two of them, due to the Covid19. It was online teaching for every interested person. Those type of tasks gave me a chance to think about different methods and their sides (informal or formal). It is a way of constant creative work on yourself. Fabiana and me also did couple of workshops for kids such as handy crafts, art workshop, puppet theater.
As for my tasks, I was helping in everyday activities and matters in the Municipal Cultural Center in Miedźna, located in Wola. One of them was marathon, also charity events. I also slowly got used to the Polish lifestyle, which was not so difficult. During my daily work at Gok office, I had the opportunity to improve my skills in Social Media Management and administrative work. I was attending Italian volunteering lessons which was conducted by Fabiana, so right now I know couple of words in Italian language.
Before my ESC project, I was working as a journalist in Georgia. So, I started spreading my knowledge in this field with children at school. I was giving hints to them how to promote any ideas on social media, how to make posters fancier and which online pages work well for editing or montage short videos. Also, we were discussing many topics such as communication through the internet, it’s good and bad sides, how to verify information on internet and etc.
For increasing the awareness of ESC, Erasmus+ projects and about our FRSP organization we made a presentation at Gilowice school with our coordinators. Fabiana and me made a presentation about our volunteering experiences, tasks, what we were actually doing and also we gave to children some advices.
Honestly, I didn’t travel a lot before pandemic situation, but there is some to share with you. Fabiana and me went to Rybnik city, which was our second travel together in Poland. We went there for seeing other volunteers and stayed there for weekend. We attended two events such as social meeting language and contemporary art exhibition during our stay in Rybnik. At the first time we went to Muzeum Śląskie in Katowice, where you will find a mix of contemporary art and Silesian History. We spent one amazing week in Warsaw, the capital of Poland at the arrival training organized by the National Agency. We were discovering the capital, people and modernity. There I met other ESC volunteers from different countries who are currently operating in Poland. It was an interesting training, I found out more about Erasmus + and ESC. Besides, we shared our culture and experiences with other volunteers.
Unfortunately, above mentioned were the common activities which I did before the Covid19.
I’m not sure, but as I remember I stopped daily working at office at the end of March. But we were continuing some of the workshops. Such as, English lessons online with two different groups. Before my arrival in Poland I knew about two mandatory training, one in Warsaw and one in Torun. But as you can guess, location of second training has changed and held by online.
Despite of Covid I received invitation to get to close with Silesian culture and traditions which is one of the great benefit of ESC project. Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one’s own. So, I got a cultural shock on the Easter in Poland. I was invited to my coordinator Natalia’s and Joanna’s houses. I tasted all the traditional dishes. To tell you the truth, everything was very tasty and incomparable. I can’t describe it in few words, but all the dishes, soups, sweets, cakes everything made Joanna with her own hands and please, believe me everything was immensely delicious. She was rarely coming to the table because he was fussing in the kitchen. She is the person who is the best mother, wife and the best cook for the family. I want to thank her and express my respect. Want to grow up and be like her, just as energetic, beautiful, and smart as she is. On the next day I went to Natalia’s house. There were so beautiful Easter decorations on the table and in the garden too and of course variety of polish dishes on the table. After dinner we played board games, had a little fun. Later, Natalia took me to the yard and saw the little rabbits, that was unexpecting. Thanks to her for this opportunity and for inviting me. However, the most interesting thing happened at the end of this day. Natalia’s husband asked me to stand up for praying as I guess, cause it was part of the Easter. When I was standing up, Marcin splashed the water to me. I was amazed. He explained to me that the tradition of Śmigus-dyngus is one of the components of Easter, that’s why he did it to me.
One of the cultural days which affects on me was First Holy Communion day. This is a big celebration in the life of 8 year old children. Small girls wear white dresses. They also carry white lilies as a symbol of their innocence (boys carry candles). Girls have garlands (crowns) made of white flowers on their heads. Communion is celebrated for many weeks after it really happens. Children get expensive gifts. During Corpus Christi procession, girls in First Holy Communion dresses strew the way with flowers.. It is a special day and celebrated a special way.
During stay at home, I decided to share information about my country to every our followers on our fan pages. So, I was publishing publications once a week. Also me and one Georgian guy made a video about how Georgian celebrate the Easter and published it on Facebook. Because of my classes were cancelled I started YouTube video shootings and sharing with viewers.
Despite of Covid19 I went to Lodz, Brenna, Lachowice and moved to Oswiecim. The first trip out of Poland’s lockdown period was to Brenna. It was very pleasant almost 16-kilometres long walk in Brenna. We started hiking on blue trail which later on merged with yellow one and then it finished on green trail. In fact, all trails in Brenna and Lachowice mountains are great for everyone – trails are wide and safe, there usually isn’t much height difference to do and the views are amazing. Every nature admirer will be delighted! Nice views, undemanding trails and fresh air – there’s actually nothing more we could ask for. On my first hiking time in Brenna was invitation by my coordinators side, later I went over there with Gok. On that day I met Natalia’s mother-in-law who is one of the great person I met in Wola. She was making my favorite polish dish Jureki and lots of sweets like Joanna did it for me. Then I spent Corpus Christi holidays in Łódź with Justina. I tried my best and saw as many sightseeing as it was possible during those days. For sure, I’m really SO glad to met her and got to know her closer. I had one more great opportunity to see the Vistula, the longest river in Poland, which also flows through Wola.
Unfortunately, I’m not able to finish my project on its time, but still fine. So, at the end of my publication I’d like to share you the last amazing moments. I went to Gok today, at the 1st of September and this was the last day in Wola and at work place. So, we had some fun, small talks and then I received gifts from them and it was really unexpectable. Since the day I joined to GOk, their continued support is the one thing I can always count on. I felt great hospitality and thus I felt at home. They all showed me patience, guided and motivated me. Thanks all of you for supporting me wholeheartedly. Love and miss you all! I’m lucky that I got an exciting book from my students too ( 1 000 places to see in Poland). Paulina and Sylwia thank you for every lesson!
Writing about what I have learned is very difficult because it concerns several aspects: communication, creativity, logistic skills, etc. Firstly, I’d point out social media management skills worked out through FRSP and Gok. Daily touches caused it and helped me to discover even more modes or platforms. Next is communication skills. We talked much about worse sides of Covid but, still helped to communicate people with different ways. Thus it was kinda challenge for me to discover some unknown possibilities of myself. I learnt how to live alone in a different country where no one is able to speak on your native language, how to respect and be tolerance, how to make days better. One more great thing I’ve learnt is time managment skills, now I know that every single minutes matter. My motivation has increased to achieve my goals and to start hard work for it. I met youngsters from all over the Europe and not only and we’re still keep in touch. I found out new culture and traditions. Tasted many traditional dishes and sweets. I’ve traveled around the Poland, mostly in Silesia and discover really exciting places I’ve never seen before. To sum up, I highly recommended my hosting organisations and ESC for sure, remember aged 18-30.
Besides, I would like to say thanks to my coordinator from the Foundation for the Development of Entrepreneurial Society and the president of FRSP for every single amazing day. I am very pleased with the path I have traveled so far and I am ready for new challenges that are still ahead of me.