by Fran Johansen (middle-right in the photo) and her granddaughter Betz Mayer (right in the photo)
A day at Villa “Cztery Pory Roku” in Zakopane dawned like most days for us with wisps of mist wrapping around mountains and promises of another wonderful day of building English language skills for the delightful students at the summer English Language Camp. With or without sunshine, the view from our balcony is always lovely and green with air so sweet we feel close to heaven. The place is lovely, but the Polish people, the experiences, our fellow Global Volunteers and the food make it an exciting and rewarding adventure. (The “our” includes Betz, a recent high school graduate, and Fran, her grandmother. The Poland volunteer trip was the first for Betz and the fifth for Fran.)
The volunteers and the campers shared learning experiences. What fun to learn Polish words and Polish history from students who are most enthusiastic about learning English. And to think that we knew very little about the Polish history, culture, and language. Yet, we learned and they learned as we became friends – friends that will be with us for many years.
Both of us are so grateful for the opportunity to volunteer for two or three weeks; neither of us would have been able to have such an experience if we were required to make a commitment of a longer period of time. We agree that the enthusiasm that springs from a shorter time responsibility is fresher and one that makes each day really count. We also notice that the influence of new and different volunteers makes for even richer experiences for the children. What a great idea! Global Volunteers has nailed it.
Dorota, our leader for the summer camp at Zakopane, truly demonstrates her enthusiasm for the Global Volunteers program – an enthusiasm that shines through and generates that enthusiasm for both volunteers and the students. Her dedication to the students is both infectious and unparalleled. She works hard to ensure that each and every day of the language camp experience is valuable for both the students and the volunteers. Her years as a Global Volunteer leader, her kindness, and her willingness to listen to any and all issues that we encountered made the experience incredibly rewarding to all of us involved.
The camp experience provided opportunities for wonderful hikes and field trips with the students. We, as volunteers, were able to enjoy the beautiful mountains, the lovely countryside, and awesome historical sights with students and camp leaders by our sides. These experiences would not be possible if we were just tourists.
Both of us long to return to Poland once again to volunteer and to experience its beauty, rich history, and wonderful people.