One of Global Volunteers’ oldest and most delightful service program takes place in Siedlce, eastern Poland. Volunteers have been serving in Siedlce teaching conversational English since 1990. The large number of returning volunteers and Polish students who have advanced their English skills speaks to the success of this partnership between the local Polish government and Global Volunteers. Last year we weren’t able to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our service program in Poland due to COVID. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate over three decades of service this year with a special service program in October. In preparation for the celebrations and this anniversary team, Marek Błaszczyk, our community host in Siedlce, shares the story of Global Volunteers’ work in Poland.
By Marek Błaszczyk
The idea of teaching conversational English came from people in Poland. The year 1989 was a time of changes in our country as we went from communism to democracy. During that year, Bud Philbrook came to the Polish Parliament where he met members from the Siedlce district in eastern Poland. Bud asked a Parliament member how Global Volunteers could help. The response was clear, “We have enough hands to work, but we need to speak English. We wish to work more closely with the western European countries and the U.S. We need to speak English.” “Bring your volunteers to Siedlce,” our representatives added, “and help in our small villages.” Bud said; “We can’t promise to send teachers, but we can send people who speak English.”
When volunteers first came to the Siedlce district in 1990, they taught business and technology to unemployed people. I personally found out about Global Volunteers the following year and invited the volunteers to stay at Reymontówka. Global Volunteers never told us that we had to do something this way or that way. This has been very important to us. Since Global Volunteers started working in Siedlce, the program has grown and been very successful in Poland and in other countries. Global Volunteers stayed in a small farming village of about 100 people at the time and now nearly everyone speaks English. I know people who now are about 40 who started learning English about 20 years ago through Global Volunteers.
Poland is a good country, and is a part of the European Union and NATO. Now that we are an open country, many young people from Poland can work in other countries. The children who learn English go on to get good jobs and they can travel around the world. The best students get excellent jobs and they are changing Poland. But the impact of volunteers serving in Poland reaches all ages. The housekeeper at Reymontówka who learned English with volunteers now runs a business in London. That’s how the volunteers have impacted people.
Global Volunteers is very famous around the Siedlce district, but it is not known all around Poland. We are working to help spread the word. Our goal is that in time, Polish people can and will volunteer in all parts of the world. A few years ago we had someone from Poland volunteer in India. But this doesn’t mean the work in Poland is done. We still need volunteers in the Siedlce district because there are many children and youth who don’t speak English, yet. But we are proud to have worked with Global Volunteers teaching conversational English in Siedlce since 1990. In October 2021, we will have a special 30-year anniversary team, and we plan to celebrate this milestone with the lucky volunteers who are able to join this team.
Volunteers are already serving in Poland after the health crisis disruptions, and they are having a great time. Global Volunteers, Marek, and the rest of our local community partners are already preparing for the celebrations.
Celebrate 30 Years of Service in Poland with Us in Special Anniversary Service Program
Join Global Volunteers President and CEO Bud Philbrook and Poland service program hosts and staff on our very special anniversary team in Poland starting on October 2, 2021 – honoring over three decades of Global Volunteers’ service. The highlight of this program is our 30th Anniversary Gala on October 10 at Reymontówka Manor House in Chlewiska, featuring a concert of traditional Polish music. Special guests include provincial and county government representatives, school administrators, teachers, and community partners who support and guide our partnership. Current and former students will be in attendance to testify to the long-term success of the Global Volunteers program. Teach the youth of Siedlce – and enjoy a milestone celebration of service. Please put this special date in your calendar – so we can honor the exceptional success of Global Volunteers’ partnership with Siedlce County together!
If you would like to be part of this special anniversary team or receive more information about a Poland service program, please contact us.
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