Serving in Poland
It’s said: “To teach is to touch the future.” Imagine touching the future in a classroom in Poland, where each day an entire nation is living out exciting lessons in free enterprise and democracy. In the late 1980s, the Polish people, led by the Solidarity Movement, rejected Soviet communism and set their country on the road to freedom and self-reliance. The Western world responded enthusiastically.
Since 1990, Global Volunteers has been playing a small but vital role in Poland’s progress by sending volunteers from all walks of life to teach conversational English – the language of the world’s marketplace – to youth and adults in classrooms and informal group settings. Hosted by the county government of Siedlce, volunteer teams teach English conversational skills in classrooms and summer camps in Siedlce, a historical city in east-central Poland. While volunteering in Poland, you will be an active participant in the community you serve, much more than an observer. The Polish people are very patriotic – they love their country and have great pride. The Poles are known for their hospitality – they always care for their guests. They say: “Guest in the house – God in the house.” They are also very sociable and love to sing and dance.
Community Partner & Work Projects
In Poland Global Volunteers works in partnership with the County Government of Siedlce, inhabited by 80,000 people and people located about an hour east of Warsaw amid woods and farmland. Since we began working in the schools of Siedlce County in 1990, nearly 3,000 volunteers have contributed more than 300,000 hours, helping thousands of youth learn conversational English. Our main host representative is Marek Blaszczyk, the Director of Reymontowka Manor House, which belongs to the county government. Our community partners include principals and teachers from several elementary, middle, and high schools in the Siedlce area. Whether you enjoy working with young children or teens, volunteers can offer assistance to many different groups in this community.
“Before this trip, I was not aware that a heart can actually sing. It can. During the past weeks, mine has sung repeatedly. The teachers among us, I’m certain, have experienced this wondrous feeling when you see the light go on in the eyes of a student as he or she understands a concept you sought to convey. This feeling is akin to the soaring of the soul as you listen to really great music. Yes, we have been handsomely paid for our efforts.”
~ Poly Norris, Poland Volunteer
Elementary and Middle Schools In Siedlce
During the school year, volunteers teach in elementary and middle school classrooms and in after-school tutoring projects in Siedlce County and surrounding communities. Polish students of all ages are eager to gain increased proficiency in English, of vital importance in their future entry into universities and the job market in both Poland and the European Union. The emphasis on this two to three-week program is improving conversational English. Volunteers usually teach four hours a day, allowing equal time for preparation and team meetings.
Summer Camp In Siedlce
During the summer months, volunteers to Siedlce teach Polish youth in an informal “camp” atmosphere at Reymontowka Manor House. The summer camp schedule calls for English classes in the morning to the early afternoon and optional organized activities with students in the later afternoons. Students are organized by proficiency level into groups of seven to ten students and are guided by one or two volunteers who prepare daily lessons. Volunteers have the chance to interact with students through a variety of free time activities including tennis, basketball, art projects, dance, and evening programs. At the end of the session, parents and other community members are invited to a program in which students perform skits, songs, and poetry readings in English. Both volunteers and students reside at Reymontowka during the summer camps.
Service Program Logistics
Global Volunteers Poland Team Leader, Olga Storozhenko, leads all teams in Poland. Olga will facilitate your team’s orientation, assist you in being fully engaged in your assigned work project(s), and manage all project-related logistical issues. Olga will introduce you to the community, help acclimate you to the local culture, invite you to community events, and engage you in the day-to-day life of the community.
There is a saying in Poland: “The way to a human is through the stomach.” Polish cuisine is rich in meat of all kinds as well as in different types of soups and dumplings, the most notable of which are pierogi. Pork and chicken are the main meats in the cuisine of Poland. Breakfast – usually a big one – is eaten early in the morning. Eggs, different types of cheese, crepes, pancakes, cold cuts, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, yogurt, cereal, and milk are served for breakfast in Poland. Lunch is served between 1 and 2 p.m. and usually consists of two courses. The first one is soup and the second course includes meat, potatoes, and veggies. Supper is served around 7 p.m. and usually consists of some sandwiches and tea as well as different kinds of Polish noodles or dumplings. Poles like to drink tea. They also love to gather around the bonfire to roast their kielbasa (sausage) and sing traditional Polish songs. Three meals a day are included in your service program contribution and your team leader will organize all these logistics. Desserts, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages are readily available for an additional charge.
Volunteers in Siedlce stay at Reymontowka, a 19th century manor house set in the picturesque Polish countryside and located twelve miles outside the city center. This lovely facility belongs to the county government of Siedlce, and, in addition to being a home for Global Volunteers, it is used for numerous cultural events and conferences. Local residents can also rent some of its space to hold special celebrations such as weddings, company picnics, or other celebrations. Double and single rooms (the first 5 singles requested can be accommodated) are available, as well as triple and quadruple rooms that can accommodate families volunteering together. Each room has a private bathroom and a TV with the BBC channel. It is a two-story building. Global Volunteers has a special resource room dedicated to planning lessons. The resource room has a very extensive collection of teaching materials that can be used in the lessons as well as a copy machine. There is a bar, a tennis court, and an outdoor swimming pool on the grounds of Reymontowka. More photos of Reymontowka are available here.
All in-country transportation related to your service program is included. Volunteers are met at the Warsaw airport and transported to Reymontowka Manor House by Global Volunteers. You will also be transported to the airport on the last day of the program. The travel time between the airport and the lodging is about an hour and a half and we use a safe and comfortable van with adequate space for luggage. The manor house is located about thirty minutes outside Siedlce. If you are going to work at the summer camp, all the classes will be held onsite at the manor house where you stay. If you will serve in Poland in the spring or fall and teach in the local schools, safe vehicles will be provided by the respective schools and you will be driven by teachers and parents to and from school each day. This travel time ranges from 10 to 30 minutes each way.
Note: transportation for free-time activities is not included.
Accurately assess your functional mobility. Our work assignments and partner communities require varying levels of physical stamina and mobility. After you register, you will be asked about your physical capabilities relating to your mobility. Please answer the questions honestly.
Required Mobility for Poland: Mobile – Walk 1 mile, climb five flights of stairs, walk on uneven terrain, and get on and off buses and trains independently.
Required Mobility for Poland (Summer Programs): Somewhat mobile – Walk 0.5 mile, climb two flights of stairs, walk on uneven terrain, and get on and off buses and trains with assistance.
Free Time Activities
During free weekends and off hours at Siedlce, immerse yourself in the historic charms of this fascinating country. As Reymontowka Manor House is a cultural facility, volunteers are often invited to attend concerts and art exhibits by local musicians and artists held there in the spring and fall. You will also be able to enjoy walks through the beautiful and peaceful countryside around Reymontowka. There are tennis courts at the manor house. In the evening during summer camps, the students put on shows and musical plays for evening entertainment, giving volunteers the chance to attend these activities and socialize with local people. Just an hour and a half away from Siedlce is Warsaw, Poland’s capital and one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Here historic buildings, palaces, churches, and architectural complexes destroyed during the War have been reconstructed with great care. There are many great museums in Warsaw such as the Warsaw Uprising Museum, Chopin’s Museum, the Museum of History of Polish Jews, Copernicus Center, and others. There is also the Royal Castle in the Old Town and the beautiful Lazienki Park where outdoor concerts of Chopin’s music are held.
Service Program Contribution
Global Volunteer’s service program contribution covers all lodging in double accommodation, three meals a day, in-country team transportation, emergency medical evacuation insurance, all preparatory materials, onsite orientation, a full-time team leader, and administration costs. Single rooms are available for an additional fee. The Siedlce service program contribution is $2,782 for one week, $2,997 for two weeks, and $3,212 for three weeks and the Zakopane service program contribution is $2,997 for either the one or two-week program. Please ask your volunteer coordinator about discounts for students, companions, alumni, and children under the age of 12 with an accompanying adult as well as referral credits. Also, we encourage you to use Global Volunteers’ online fundraising tool with your own personalized webpage to request partially tax-deductible donations from your family and friends to help cover your service program contribution. Airfare and free time activity expenses are the responsibility of each volunteer. The service program contribution and airfare are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
“Volunteering my time to teach conversational English in Poland was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It taught me that money will never be my motivation for working, that motivation for me will only come when I know I can make a difference in another person’s life.”
~ Cassandra Kozlowski, Poland Volunteer