Helping as Many Students as We Can

Today we had a busy morning breakfast. Breakfast included a spread made of farmers’ cheese (twaróg) with radishes and the usual meat & cheese plate. We were treated to hearing two journal entry readings from Bettina and Meghan recounting the events of the week so far. I delivered the message of the day to remind us that, though we may wish we could teach every student in our schools, there are limits to our reach and we can only do what’s humanly possible. However, we’re still helping as many students as we can.

It was the last full day for Molly and Bob being with us, and their school even gave them the day off from teaching and planned a big celebration. Actually, it was coincidentally Family Day at the school and parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and whole extended families came out to participate. Molly and Bob were treated to desserts made by all the mothers, lots of smiles and photographs, and even a mandolin performance.

At Bettina’s school class, the students read “The Giving Tree.” Bettina learned that mothers and fathers tend to stay with their families even into old age rather than be sent to nursing homes. Unfortunately, Dorota informed us that this is beginning to change in Poland. Betsy, Kenita, Meghan, and I booked train travel to Krakow for the weekend. We finally have all our arrangements in place for our southern sojourn.

Over marjoram-spiced bean soup, tasty “meatloaf” patties, and carrot slaw, we had a lunchtime discussion to review the team goals and objectives we decided on during orientation, which was just over a week ago despite how distant that memory seems. Our responses to this review were:

(1) Regarding student motivation, we’ve all observed that our children are more active and willing to take part in our lessons, so our tactics have been successful.

(2) When asked if we’re teaching with positivity & optimism, there was a resoundingly positive and optimistic “Absolutely!” in reply. We also learned that teachers will have the opportunity to informally provide feedback to Dorota on our performance in the classrooms.

(3) While everyone continues to struggle with some of the difficult pronunciations of consonant-laden vocabulary, we’ve all made efforts to learn more about Polish culture and language, especially through traditional foods. Personally, I’ve been shocked a few times to learn I’ve mispronounced kiełbasa all my life, pierogi are not served as often as I’d hoped, and the English translation of gołąbki (“pigeon”) raises serious concerns about the type of meat in that cabbage wrapper.

(4) Our goal to celebrate our partnership accomplishments between the County of Siedlce and Global Volunteers was well achieved by our 25th anniversary gala held over the weekend. Everyone enjoyed the festivities, and our chance to spend several days in many discussions with Bud Philbrook, Co-Founder and CEOof Global Volunteers, was insightful and priceless. And,

(5) Finally, friendships and relationships we’ve developed with each other and with our teachers and students will be easy to maintain via the many social media outlets at our disposal. Several of us have already connected on Facebook with our new friends.

In the evening, as Lori, Kenita, and Gary headed out for a night on the town with two Polish teachers with whom they have worked. The rest of us enjoyed our spaghetti supper while bonding over discussions of family and upbringings, and preparing for the following morning departure of Bob and Molly.
A quick lesson from Meghan on aseptic technique when refilling one’s water bottle, and an unexpected hailstorm, rounded out the events of the day.

Journal by Rob

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