piątek, 20 grudnia 2013

Christmas is almost here!

Just arrived after Mid-term we were invited to Christmas Evening for Seniors Club, which was appointed on 14th of December. As international volunteers we shared how Christmas and New Year are celebrated in our countries.
Of course there are a lot of similar traditions, but at the same time there is something special in each culture! Let’s see what similar and different have people from Hungary, Poland and Russia about Christmas and New Year. 

Christmas in Hungary
On 24th of December life in Hungary goes around Christmas. Streets are empty and some people are decorating Christmas trees, others are making dinner for the family feast. Traditionally people serve dishes with fish – Halászlé (fish soup) and carp baked with potatoes. Why carp? The answer is easy – the fish symbolize wealth and well-being for everyone! In every family there is own secret recipe they follow for years! Töltött pulyka (stuffed turkey) and Pörkölt (stew) are also favorite dishes in many families. It’s hard to imagine Hungarian Christmas without Bejgli – rolled dough filled with nuts or poppy seeds, people buy them in cake-shops or bake at home. And of course time for presents is the most pleasant time – brightly and colorfully packed they wait for children and adults under the Christmas tree! When dinner is finished religious people go to the Church for Christmas mess. And the day after is the day for visiting relatives and friends.
Christmas in Poland
Christmas has an important place in life of Polish people. Especially if we talk about Wigilia, Christmas Eve in Polish. There is a special role for Christmas decorations – the main element of it is a Christmas tree and Christmas wreaths. Also you can see compositions represent Holy Family, Christ Child and Magis. On 24th of December people cover tables with a white covering and set a table for the all family plus for one uninvited guest. Traditionally people lay little piece of hey under the covering as a symbol of well-being for the family. Christmas dinner should consist of 12 dishes.
There is one rule – all the dishes should be without meat. Usually among all the dishes there is “polish borsz” (beetroot broth), pierogi with cabbage, bigos and of course plenty of pies, gingerbread and poppy seed rolls. Every member of family has to try each dish at least once. And traditionally for all Catholical countries after the dinner people go to Christmas mess.
New Year and Christmas in Russia
It is well-known that most people in Russia are orthodox. That’s why we have Christmas on 7th of January. The reason is Julian calendar wasn’t change to new Gregorian one and that’s why we have 13 days difference. Unfortunately, most of Christmas traditions in Russia are just history now because in 1918 it was prohibited to celebrate Christmas. It’s so sad to imagine that children didn’t see the Christmas tree that year! Only in 1935 holiday appeared again, but it became rather New Year celebration then Christmas – because of anti-religious propaganda most of traditions were lost in history. Now only most religious people celebrate it according to all traditions, but others just prepare Christmas dinner and spend nice time with families.       
That’s why for most people in Russia nowadays New Year is more significant than Christmas. For this reason there are more traditions connected with New Year. For example, my favorite – making a wish! The secret is to write down a wish on a little piece of paper, burn it, throw ash in a glass with champagne and drink while Kremlin clock is striking twelve times! Also according to Russian tradition how you celebrate New Year's will dictate the course of the next 12 months...So that’s why people prefer celebrate it with family and close friends. And for this reason also there are so many dishes on the table – meat, fish, and different salads and of course caviar! If you have a lot of tasty food on your table, a year will be rich and prosperous.

And of course New Year and Christmas are favorite holidays for all children in the World. In each country there are characters that come especially for this time and secretly give presents to children! In Russia there are even two main characters – Ded Moroz (Father Frost) and his grand-daughter Sniegourochka. Together they go to New Year’s parties in kindergartens and schools and leave sweets and tangerines under the New Year tree. 
In Poland and Hungary live brothers of Russian Ded Moroz - Święty Mikołaj and Mikulás, but unlike from him they bring presents much earlier – at 6th of December. In Hungary there an interesting tradition – good children get chocolates fruits from Mikulás, while bad children get “virgács” (a broom) from little evil-helper of Mikulás – Krampusz. In 24th of December children get presents again – this time from little Jezuska.

In the end I’d like to wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for everyone! Enjoy your holidays, spend time actively and gather energy for the next year! See you soon! 


poniedziałek, 16 grudnia 2013

Mid-term training

You might remember our post about the on-arrival training. Yes, already it was time for another one. This training is compulsory for every volunteer who has a long-term project. Thanks to the National Agency, our trainers and all the volunteers who were present we had a great time. Let’s see what happened:

The most delicious symbol
of Toruń: pierniki
The arrival day was the 6th and many of us were stuck in traffic jams for long hours because of heavy wind and snow. However, everybody made it in time for dinner. It was great to see familiar faces from the previous training but we were also excited to get to know the new ones. After dinner, we had a quick integration session with the trainers and then we decided to explore Toruń’s bars. One of our fellow volunteers had his project in Toruń, so he was our guide that night.

The next day was the first real day with workshops. After energizers and other fun brain starting activities, we split into groups. The groups were given a piece of paper with only one word on it. The task was to go out in the city, find out what this is and to get to know the story behind it.
Want to know a city well? Ask locals.
Then we met in our meeting room to present these stories. It was not just a simple presentation. We became actors and had to use our creativity and drama skills to tell the others our story. Fortunately, we had really nice weather and friendships already started to form, so we were happy to be there. It was a really nice way of getting to know Toruń. One day, we also had a little guided tour around the town.
Wojtek as a tour guide
On other occasions we visited the Centre of Contemporary Art and we also went to a children’s theatre once. Probably, Dudi the bird and her adventures will be remembered for a long time. At the Centre of Contemporary Art we did not only have a visit but it was also the place of a workshop. The topic was everyone’s least favourite: future. With the help of the sheets of papers on the ground, we had to walk on the path of our future and present our plans. I really liked the idea of exploring possibilities this way but somehow I was too scared to think about it. It was too soon maybe.

Let’s see some other activities, shall we? Once we were offered to discuss different topics at different parts of the hostel. There was one day when one part of the group wanted to go outside for activities and the rest of us preferred to stay inside. We were given questions to discuss questions about our stay in Poland, our projects and point of views. The ones who decided to go out did the same but they also had to take pictures that reflect their project or goals in the future.

Presenting the story of  'Filuś'

Most of the time we were working in groups and had various workshops and we (almost) always ended the day with evaluation and our Wojteks were welcoming any request. It was great that they took everyone’s needs into consideration while making the plan of activities for the training. Time went by very quickly and we soon arrived towards the end of our training. We finished the training with an evaluation letter and wishes and thoughts for everybody. During our last lunch altogether, we did a little performance in the dining room for our trainers to thank them this great experience. There was a friendly atmosphere all through the whole training, we got to know awesome people, nice stories. I would say that the training was a huge success and we all went back to our projects full energy and motivation.

Group shot!

I hope to see you guys soon!

Hugs to everybody,


wtorek, 26 listopada 2013

Once we were fortune-tellers: Anrzejki in Dom Polonii

Since old days Andrzejki is a time of fortune-telling and mystic. Previously people believed that only in the night of 29th of November all the rituals have special power that makes wishes come true and open gates for the future. Nowadays Adnrzejki is rather a good way to spent time with friends having fun by fortune-telling and usually nobody takes it seriously.
In Andrzejki Party organized by a local Social Care Center for Seniors Club in “Dom Polonii” we had a chance to show our actors abilities as far as we had roles of fortune-tellers there! Preparations started long time before this event and till the last moments we had no idea how it’s going to be, but the task was clear – collect different types of fortune-telling in our countries.
So, at 23th of November (yes,yes – one week earlier then it is) we arrived to “Dom Polonii” to prepare our “mystic corner” for traditional palm-reading, fortune-telling by books and coffee, but we also had a surprise – unusual fortune-telling from Transylwania! 

Now more about last one. In English it’s so called dumpling fortune-telling. The idea is to put 3-5 little papers with one’s wishes into a piece of dough, then put it into boiling water and wait which dumpling will come to the top first. Of course, that one will turn into reality! It took more preparations but the result was really worthy!
Dumplings are ready!

After official part and little concert, people started to come with their wishes to know the future. We are professionals but we give only good prognoses!
The most popular questions - how long will I live and will I meet my love!
I have to say that we were not the only “wrożkas” (wrożka – a fortune-teller in Polish) in this party. On the left side there were another pavilion where worked a girl from Poznań who was doing wax fortune-telling for us as well.
What your name says about you?
It's not just a shadow - it's a gnome!

How did people react?
It was our first meeting with a Seniors Club in Pułtusk. It’s another generation with different view on modern life but they were very interested to know why we are here and what do we do in Pułtusk. Maybe, they will tell grand children about us and they will join our activities?
What did I learn?
For me the most important thing in that evening was communication. In the very beginning I was frustrated about it because there is a language barrier between us and seniors. But it’s appeared not that much difficult and even funny – at least they understood my Polish!        


piątek, 8 listopada 2013

Dzieżenin, here we are!

As Zsófi wrote you in her previous post this Thursday was a day of presentation in gymnasium in  Dzierżenin. And our report about this event can wait no longer!
First of all I want to admit that meeting was a result of networking from a conference for teachers of foreign languages in Dom Polonii where we run a presentation about IVS last month. Nice to realize that people want to cooperate, that means we do useful work!
So, early in the morning we started our trip to Dzierżenin, small village 15 km from Pułtusk. We were kindly met by a principal, Russian teacher pani Dorota and English teacher pani Bożena. After little talk we started our preparation. And half an hour later the projector set up, a poster with no-name girl set and children were ready to listen to Sylwia’s presentation about volunteering and work-camps! Then was a turn of a school to say about themselves. It was really nice to know that there is a voluntary club that was opened this September. Congratulations to newly-born! Children seem a little bit shy but interested so for sure we will find ways to cooperate!  
After a break we started presentations about counties. Zsófi worked with English classes and I worked with students who learn Russian. Well, we are getting more and more experienced and this time we prepared our presentations in a more interactive way. Of course it took more time and creativity, but the result was worthy. As was discussed before with teachers we divide our presentation into 3 parts: short country presentation, music and traditional cuisine. I started with asking them some simple questions about Russia and its culture and first group of 14 boys was surprisingly active!
But second group (where were only girls, by the way) was shy but they were more successful with task where they were asked to fill in the missing words in a well-known Russian song “Pesenka o medvedyakh”. And of course I can’t mention about our innovation – degustation of traditional food in the end of presentation. “How could they know cuisine if they didn’t try anything?” – decided we and went to Hungarian and Russian shops in Warsaw to buy some Hungarian sausage and mustard, so called “Baklazhanovaya ikra” (vegetable paste) and Russian sweets. After the lesson it seemed that they really like Hungarian sausages…and about “ikra” – well, as I expected after some hesitations they tried and liked it! But anyway they preferred sweets J
How did people react?
It was new experience for this gymnasium and children were really curious and interested to know who we are despite of the fact they were rather noisy in the beginning. But during the presentation I surprisingly didn’t face up with discipline problem, otherwise they were active and lively! And as a final – I was happy to know from pani Dorota that other classes are also asking for these lessons!   
What did I learn?
As I mentioned before we made our presentations more lively and interactive. It really works, we will continue this way in the future. I must say that now I can speak simple and slowly Russian – don’t laugh, it’s not that easy (it’s also a trick of experience – last two weeks I run Russian lessons in Lyceum)! But I still struggle with time; I should learn time-management!   

P.S. I’d like to say thank you to teachers and of course special thanks to principal of this gymnasium for the good organizational conditions and tasty lunch J.  I’m really looking forward our next meeting in January. 
P.P.S. photos will appear soon! 


środa, 6 listopada 2013

English lessons in Świetlica

EVS in Pułtusk is becoming more and more lively every month! As a proof, last week we started going to Świetlica to have English lessons for the kids. Let’s see how it went so far. : )

The first lesson started out being a bit chaotic, we weren’t so prepared and kids preferred to play but soon they realized that it’s better to listen and learn as it might be useful for them. We taught them the alphabet and some basic greetings which was followed by games to make them remember.

Yesterday, we started our second lesson with a little revision. The children didn’t really feel like answering our questions about last week’s lesson so we switched to the new lesson’s material. I’m sure they remembered everything though. They just thought that it’s too easy for them and were more interested in learning new things. Right?

This time, things went so much better! Last Thursday we had a meeting with Maria, an English teacher who gave us tips on how to teach English to children. She even offered to visit us at one of our lesson to help us even more. Is she awesome,  or what? But now let’s go back to yesterday’s lesson. After introducing them to the numbers we sang a number song together with some movements. Thank you YouTube for always providing us what we need! Then, we stood in a circle and practiced counting with different games. We finished with bingo and another game that they already knew from the workcamps. 

The idea is simple: the first person to choose the said number from the little cards gets a point. After a few rounds, they really got the feeling of it. Unfortunately, our ‘1’ card got injured while there were many kids reaching for it. We are working on its recovery but it doesn’t look good. Let’s hope for the best! 

November is mostly the month of visiting schools, so now we are preparing for new presentations. On Thursday, we are going to Dzierżenin where after a presentation for the school, we will have two lessons with different classes. We will keep you updated with how it went there. And ‘til then, keep visiting our Facebook page and don’t hesitate to write us if you have a question!

Do zobaczenia,


wtorek, 22 października 2013


We started this week in a very active and useful way. Our little team of  ten volunteers had a mikroworkcamp in the course of which we planted more than 1,400 trees. But before going into details let’s see how this activity was made possible.

 The idea of cooperation with Nadleśnictwo Pułtusk is not new. One of the last steps towards preparation was a trip to the forest with the kids from the Social Care Centre at the end of September where we were also invited. While we, volunteers were playing with the kids, important decisions were made in the background. They heard about our activities and proposed cooperation.

With the head of Nadleśnictwo, Pani Ania, the
head of the Social Care Centre and the kids
in September
Another important element was the training organized by 
Centrum Zrównoważonego Rozwoju „Horyzonty”as participants joined us for our mikroworkcamp. It was also a good way for them to practice English, as the day after they went to Italy for a study visit. Two volunteers from SPW, Pia and Tom also joined us.

So now, let’s go back to what happened yesterday. The day started with a meeting in the office, where Sylwia presented the participants the activities of our organization and the idea of workcamps. It was followed by ‘getting to know each other’. After a quick introduction, we played our favourite name-game but soon we had to leave. Those trees can’t plant themselves!
After arriving to the venue, we split into teams of two. Hayk was our leader, he translated us the instructions that we got from the forester (the man who works in the forest). He showed us different methods of planting and kept an eye on us to do everything well. While working, we had the chance to get to know each other and this way, working was more enjoyable. In our coffee break, the head of Nadleśnictwo came to visit us and he thanked us our work here and every participant got a package with a book,  keychains and some flyers to remember this day. When we were done with planting a trees, a bonfire was waiting for us with bygos and kiełbasa.

What have I learnt?

We were lucky enough to learn different methods of planting trees. While working the Polish participants challenged us to say some Polish tongue twisters and we also learnt some new, useful phrases in connection with working outside.

Impact on the local community

The effect of our work won’t be felt soon as trees need time to grow but we still felt that we did something useful. The ironical part of the day was that as we were leaving the forest, we saw a big truck full of trees. Also, as a continuation of this project, there are going to be more workcamps at Nadleśnictwo.

Do zobaczenia,


czwartek, 26 września 2013

How to celebrate the European Day of Languages

The European Day of Languages is 26 September, as proclaimed by the Council of Europe on 6 December 2001, at the end of the European Year of Languages (2001), which had been jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union. Its aim is to encourage language learning across Europe.’

Our partner, Eulingua Centrum Językowe decided to promote languages that are not so popular to learn. From Monday to Wednesday we were visiting different schools in and around Pułtusk. On Monday, our target was Publiczne Gimnazjum Nr 1 and Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Piotra Skargi. The next day we moved to Obryte, where we visited the primary school and also the gimnazjum. Finally on Wednesday our audience became a class in Pniewie. The students had the chance to get to know some more about Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Armenia and Hungary. It was not only about boring presentations and giving students the chance to skip a normal lesson! After introducing the country itself and its language, it was time for some quizzes and games. This way was also a good method to get their attention and to make them remember the new information.

Thursday was the day of a teachers’ conference, where we had the chance to present ourselves again and to convince teachers to work with us.

This chain of events will be closed with a city game in Pułtusk tomorrow.

What have I learned?

I hate speaking in front of many people but during the days at the schools I realized that it is not that scary to have an audience listening to you. It was also interesting to see how different people talk about their own countries. At last but not least my international vocabulary also got bigger thanks to all the presentations. 

Impact on local community
It was great to see that students were interested in getting to know these not so popular languages. They also seemed enthusiastic to learn new words.


środa, 25 września 2013

EVS weekend

Pułtusk is usually a quiet little town but for some time it turned into a lively place with many programmes and a lot of people hanging around. During St Matthew Days the market square turns into a place of a festival with a huge stage, many trampolines and other facilities for kids to play.

Our part in this celebration started a couple of weeks before, when we started to plan what kind of activities we could carry out. Then, we decided to invite the new volunteers from SPW in Warsaw. We did not expect such a big enthusiasm but finally all of them decided to participate. We did a lot of brainstorming and planning, everyone worked really hard to make the best out of this weekend. We collected, invented and tested a lot of games. New sleeping mats, sleeping bags and pillows had to be bought to be able to host the volunteers. We also got T-shirts with the logo of Centrum Międzinarodowej Wymiany Młodzieży i Wolontariatu. 
Testing games was the funniest part of the preparation

We had a final preparation meeting At SPW office on Friday where we looked through the whole plan once again and also collected some more international games. After having awesome pierogi prepared by Gosia we joined the EVS Hotspot. It was an event organized by ex-EVS volunteers and the National Agency. We took part in a debate about the needs of young people and after a little break, we had an international evening concentrated on dances and songs. Unfortunately, we had to leave early as we did not want to miss our bus to Pułtusk.

On Saturday, after finalizing everything, we decided to surprise Sylwia for her birthday. Our version of ‘Sto, lat, sto lat’ was not the best one but seeing our finally 18 years old coordinator happy was worth it. Afterwards, it was time to go to the market square as the parade was about to start.

Our team of international volunteers at the parade

All schools, institutions and organizations of Pułtusk represented themselves and we took a walk around the square. We prepared with T-shirts, flags and some face painting. Some of us only had a little flag on the face, while some turned into cats and tigers. We reached our goal: we catched the attention of people. We also spent our free time actively. Cooking and playing fun games together were initial parts of our days.

The next day, the market square became a huge fair with schools, institutions and organizations presenting themselves at their own stands. Our stand was common with the Social Care Centre (MOPS).

When the person standing in the front turns around
the others have to freeze, The winner the one who
touches the wall first.

The tent was divided into zones. There was one for information about the two organizations, one for toys, books and home decoration exchange and at last but not least the unplugged zone. There the idea was to show young people ways of spending their free time without computers and TV. We had a lot of games inside and outside the tent and some music, as well. Face painting was also very popular.
Bubble-making was also one of the favourite activities, besides zośka and badminton. At the tables kids could play cards, board games and Korean game called gonggi. The volunteers were divided into two shifts and we also had two Polish helpers, Gosia and Adrian. We were happy to see that many children came to play with us and some of them stayed there almost the whole day. I was lucky enough to meet some of my little friends from the time of the workcamps in July.
Zośka is flying high. 
Now it is time to say a bigbigbig THANK YOU for everybody who somehow helped in making this happen, it was a really great weekend! J

What have I learned?
New games, how to survive an active Sunday with a little sleep the night before, how to motivate young people to spend their time in a more playful way, how to fight with the wind that is trying to destroy the tent and also ways of effective communication and exchanging ideas to cooperate with others.

Impact on local community
Thanks to these events more and more people got to know that this organization exists and I hope to see people being interested in our activities. It was a really good way to spread information and to get attention.


czwartek, 19 września 2013

Volunteers in Pułtusk, where are you?

This Monday Centrum Miedzynarodowej Wymiany Młodziezy i Wolontariatu ran an announced meeting about Voluntary Service in Pułtusk. As you might know the aim of the meeting was promotion of voluntary service and involving young people from Pułtusk to active voluntary work. Firstly I’d like to admit family atmosphere of this meeting – we had 50% of 2 signed people this time. Of course, it changed our initial plan a little bit (we had to postpone a workshop about PR in Voluntary Service with Dorota Braziewicz from SPW), but it didn’t stop us from discussing important questions! So our project coordinator Sylwia prepared a program consisting of 2 parts. We skipped quickly theoretical issues about voluntary work and a role of volunteers and start with presenting the idea of Pułtusk Voluntary Center. According to the idea it is a place where any organization searching for volunteers could find people and for volunteers searching for work. The second topic was about so called “Bieg Mateuszowy” (annual running race – obligatory part of upcoming Pułtusk Days Celebration) and specifically about role of volunteers in assisting in that event and recruiting of volunteers.
What else? During a coffee-break we degustate delicious Hungarian sweets called “kókuszgolyó” made by Zsófi and meanwhile speak about culture and traditions of our countries. By the way we discovered that this “kókuszgolyó” has Polish analogue called “ziemniakie” and Russian one called “kartoshka”.  

What have I learnt and how did people react?
I decided to put these two questions together because this time they connected to each other more than ever. Of course I knew that most of young people are not that eager to participate in social life of their towns actively, but anyway it was a surprise for me that just 1 person came which basically means nothing because Olga has already participated in some of our activities! And it’s really strange because in my opinion all the informational cannels were involved. Anyway now we have a food for thought how to attract youth for activitiesJ! And that’s why I’m really looking forward to have this meeting with Dorota and learn something new about promoting and PR, because I feel lack of knowledge in this sphere.

P.S. by the way, do you have some ideas how to involve young people in our small Pułtusk to participate in voluntary service? If yes, please, share them in our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fiyepolska?hc_location=stream


środa, 11 września 2013

New month, new adventures

September usually means the start of the school year, but not for the seven newly arrived volunteers in Warsaw! SPW organized a little integration meeting for them and us in order to get to know each other. The newcomers were provided all needed information about their new life in Poland concerning accommodation, work, Polish lessons, etc. etc. We had the chance to discuss our hopes, fears and expectations in different creative ways and we also had some team-building activities. Monday was devoted to non-formal education and the eight key competences and YouthPass. All workshops were based on group works and discussions and as I noticed everybody was having a good time. We got to know a lot of important and useful pieces of information and knowledge. This day all mentors were also present at the ‘Academy of Non-Formal Education’.
Mr. Octopus helped us to discover our skills
Before you, dear reader start to think that all we did was working, I will have to disappoint you. We had a lot of fun games and energizers to make us even more lively and able to listen during the workshops. We also had an international evening and a bonfire the next day. The last day a psychologist visited us and she gave us tips on how to work with disabled people. She also insured to help us anytime we need to talk during our EVS projects. All I can say is that I feel happy to have met so many great people and I’m looking forward to see you at the EVS weekend which we already started to organize. Details are coming soon! ;)

What have I learned?
I have always hated speaking in public but during this meeting I felt more comfortable as it was not such a big group of people to talk to. Also, during the workshop about skills and competences I realized how much I have already benefited from EVS and it was a great feeling.

All SPW volunteers, mentors and coordinators

 Do zobaczenia,


poniedziałek, 2 września 2013

Let's run back to August! International Youth Day 2013

Hey! Today's my first post and it's devoted to International Youth Day, an annual event that celebrated at the 12th of August. It was created by United Nations in 1999 with the aim to draw attention to youth issues worldwide as far as young generation is a reserve of development and positive social transformations. Every celebration is dedicated to a special topic, and the topic of this year is “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward”.

Series of Activities were prepared by youth organizations worldwide. We, as volunteers from “Centrum Międzynarodowej Wymiany Młodzieży i Wolontariatu”, decided to contribute to IYD celebration and made a video in a well-known format “50 people, One Question” (http://fiftypeopleonequestion.com/). So, at 12th of August four people with a camera stopped young citizens of a small Pułtusk asking “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” 

The question is not an easy one but our respondents gave us honest and sometimes surprising answers. Follow this link and you will see a result of our work: http://vimeo.com/73611513

 What have I learnt?
It was my first activity as a volunteer in Pułtusk, so I was really interested to get known local youth. And I was suprised that many people connect their future with their native town, which is mostly different for my Irkutsk. One more thing - only few young peoplespeak English despite of the fact that there are lot of schools of languages.   

How did people react?
People were ready to answer the question but when they see a camera they start hurry and leave. Well, it’s a YouTube century, not everyone wants starring here
And by the way, it also was great to know that some of them were really interested in our activities!


środa, 28 sierpnia 2013

EVS On-Arrival Training

Before going into details about the exact events, let me tell you in a few words what an on-arrival training is. This is an obligatory training for all EVS volunteers during which they are given more information about the host country, they learn how to overcome their fears concerning their projects and get to know other EVS volunteers. It is all happening in the form of interactive workshops and group works.

We were really excited to finally arrive to Hotel Agrykola which was our accommodation and main place of activities. We had lunch altogether, then it was time to start our first workshop. After a quick introduction, our trainers, Marta and Wojtek took us to Łazienki Park as it is in the neighborhood of Agrykola. The task was to form random groups of three and until the next stop the group had to discuss certain questions.  It really helped a lot to get to know some things about the other volunteers. Then came a little Geography test. Firstly, we had to form the map of the word on the basis of where we are from and then, the map of  Poland, on the basis of where our hosting organization is. In the evening some of us decided to take a walk in the city and we ended up in Stare Miasto.

The next day, in groups the task was to have a little role play and to find solutions and give advice to volunteers who are not happy with their project for some reason. After this, we were focusing on our own projects. We made posters, booklets and then presented all the positive and negative things about the flat, work, language support, mentor, etc, etc. We also had the chance to explore the differences between our cultures and to find out why some things are the way they are in Poland.

Wednesday came, the programme included a guided tour in Warsaw. As it was raining quite intensively, we finished our journey earlier then planned and went to the Historical Institute where our guide showed us interesting pictures and videos about communistic times. In the evening we got a little surprise from the National Agency: we had dinner in a fancy restaurant.

On Thursday, we were exploring Warsaw on the basis of a chosen topic. The where I was member of had the topic of young people. We visited the university, the library of the university, some cafes and Łazienki Park. In the afternoon it was time to edit all the materials and information that we collected and the next day it was time for presentations. But before that we had another nice surprise. A traditional Polish dance group was waiting for us in the meeting room after our coffee break and gave a performance. We also had the chance to try Polish dances like polonez, krakowiak and we we also sang together with the band and dancers.

Time was going really fast, everybody was having a great time and it was our last but one day. We started with presentations of the previous day’s group works. The topics were finding similar organizations in Warsaw, alternative Warsaw, religions in Warsaw, young people and Poland after the Second World War. After all these, we were talking about some practical information concerning YouthPass and then the activities continued at different places of the hostel. I was participating in the workshop about activities for kids and then went upstairs where we had a little Polish lesson. Then, we were watching videos and presentations of the volunteer’s countries.

The last day, we had some teambuilding games and discussed methods of learning. After the final evaluation it was soon time to say goodbye. Us volunteers could stay in the hostel until the next morning, so after lunch most of us went for a little sightseeing in Warsaw.

All I can say is that this week was one of the best things so far during my EVS. I got to know very useful things, I learned a lot even without realizing it. A big big thanks to our trainers and all the volunteers who participated. I hope to see you soon!

What have I learned?

I learned about Polish culture and history, how to live with 5 other girls in the same room at a hostel and how

to get lost in Warsaw. After this week I feel more conscious about how to do my EVS service in the most useful and still enjoyable way. 

How did it affect others?

Probably the most effect we had on each other. With the help of our great trainers, we had the chance to develop ourselves. The employees of the hostel saw happy people, trying to speak Polish. (with more or less success) They might have not enjoyed our company during the evenings when we were up late and talked a lot. We also met a lot of people during our discoveries in Warsaw. Some of them did not care what we are doing there but most of them were really friendly and eager to get to know why we are in Poland.


poniedziałek, 5 sierpnia 2013

Workcamp 2 in July '13

Once upon a time, I spent two weeks with four amazingly awesome people in the lovely Pułtusk. It was my second workcamp, I was still full of memories from the first but at the same time looking forward to the new one. Here is how it went:

The arrival day was the 14th of July, a sunny Sunday. We had a little meeting to discuss the two weeks’ programme and we set up cleaning and cooking teams to share work in the flat. After that we started getting to know each other. We got to know that Hwan from South Korea plays the guitar and likes J Rabbit. It turned out that Marzena, our leader is a fan of travelling and she finished a workcamp in Germany the previous day and Katja, our new friend from Ukraine likes photography and Amelie is her favourite film.

The next day we headed towards the daycare right after breakfast. The kids were really excited to meet the new team of volunteers and after introduction and name games, they were already treated as good old friends. After lunch, we had a meeting with Justyna. She works at Polskie Radio and for one day they were broadcasting from Pułtusk. We first made a short video and then came the interviews for Czwórka. We were asked about our experience in volunteering, motivation to work with kids and future plans.

In the following days we played a looot of games inside and outside. Sometimes we became detectives, then we played really serious table football, basketball, badminton and table tennis matches. Sometimes we were exhausted and tired and fed up with kids jumping on and around us. But these kids are so full of love and energy that it is almost imposible to be mad at them. Almost.
For one day, I joined the workcampers in Wieliszew for an eco-training. It was good to meet new people and to have a day off from kids. They are sweet but after three weeks straight, you need the break. Meanwhile, the kids visited the local fire brigade. On Friday went for a daytrip with the kids to a traditional Polish cottage. We got to know how to prepare home made kompot, sour cream and butter. We met cute sheeps, chickens, goose and rabbits. It was obvious that we started singing ‘Złota Kaczka’ when seeing the ducks.

Our weekend turned out to be a really sporty one. We visited the workcampers in Komornica and we went kayaking together. We started from Dębe and arrived to Modlin. That’s 15 kilometers. Our lifeguards were kind enough to give us a ride back to the school which was our accommodation. Aching arms, wet clothes and burned skins everywhere but it was worth it. In the evening we had a campfire and played some funny games together. In the morning we went to Zegrze. After a missed bus, my friend, Kasia came to pick us up by car and we went to the beach.  We ate pierogi, everyone’s favourite Polish dish. We got so inspired that the next day we made it at home for dinner. Surprisingly, it was really good at our first try.

Let’s not forget about country presentations! Hwan showed us beautiful landscapes and traditional dresses, told us about the history of Korea and of course, Samsung. Then we singed and danced Gangnam style. The day before we learned the choreography for a cute Korean song about a frog and the kids really enjoyed dancing it with us. Katja introduced us Ukraine. We saw pictures of her town, Odessa and some very delicious dishes. We learned the Russian alphabet and then the task was to write down our names. During Hungarian presentation, I first tested what they remember from the previous one last week and then showed some pictures of Hungarian national foods. Then I taught them some simple phrases in Hungarian and also showed them the famous saying about the friendship of Hungary and Poland. Then, I made a huuuge mistake by asking if they had any questions. They had a lot!!!! :D I was happy to see that they are interested, though. We also had a disco for the kids and the day after, it was the closing show of the summer camp. We spent our weekend in Warsaw. Marzena and her Mom were kind enough to host us for one night and we had a really great and well-organised sightseeing tour.

What have I learned?

More and more important and useful Polish words (especially if you work with kids), like ‘Późnej’ and “Poczekaj’. I also learned how to make pierogi with a Korean and not to disappoint our leader.

How locals reacted

As time went by everybody knew that we are foreigners but no one knew for sure what we are actually doing here. We got some smiles and friendly talks with some of the parents. They were happy to have their kids in an international environment.

Do widzenia,


sobota, 3 sierpnia 2013

Witamy w Pułtusku, Daria! :)

Daria has already started her long long long journey from the distant Irkutsk and is arriving to the beloved Pultusk on the 
7th  of August. Until then here is a little introduction from her:

Cześć! My name is Daria, I came from Irkutsk (Russia). I’ve graduated University in 2011 and since that time I’ve been working for a big private Linguistic Centre in Irkutsk as a manager. This time was really great - I’ve got a lot of skills there and have met good people that became my friends. And once I decided - it’s time for new opportunities! So I’m happy to say that this year I’ll spent in Pultusk as an EVS volunteer in Centrum Międzynarodowej Wymiany Młodzieży i Wolontariatu! EVS for me is not only a great chance to get unforgettable experience living in another country, to learn new things but a chance to tell people about my beautiful region! It really is, you’ll see!!!
As for me I love travelling and I’m open for getting know traditions and cuisine of different countries (yeees, I like cooking and invite you for Russian pancakes =). Now I can’t wait the moment I’ll arrive in Poland, I’m sure it’s going to be unforgettable time!