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, up to eight volunteer teams a year teach English conversational skills in classrooms and summer camps in Siedlce, an historical city in east-central Poland, and in the picturesque alpine community of Zakopane, located in the Tatra Mountains along Poland’s southern edge. While volunteering in Poland, you will be an active participant of the community you serve, much more than an observer. The Polish people are very patriotic – they love their country and have a great sense of pride. The Poles are known for their hospitality – they always take care of their guests. They like to 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 and adult students 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 children or adults, volunteers can offer assistance with 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.
Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities- Institute of Modern Languages and Interdisciplinary Research
Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities is a public university and an integral part of the national education system. In October volunteers with professional teaching experience in economics, business, law, or foreign language teaching methodologies are of great help to its students. Volunteers are needed to offer lectures and/or engage students in conversations on topics related to the American history, government and legal system, business, and teaching methodologies. Dr. Katarzyna Mroczynska, along with other professors, work with volunteers on their work projects at this university.
Summer Camp In Zakopane
The scenic Tatra Mountains of southern Poland provide a picturesque setting for the English-immersion summer camp in Zakopane, described as the “Aspen of Poland” by one former volunteer. Zakopane is a resort town where Reymontowka Manor House rents space for summer camp. Here middle and high school students and volunteers live and study together in intense two-week sessions. Most of these students come from the Siedlce area and may be familiar faces to volunteers who have served in that locale. Each volunteer works with a group of four to eight students with an emphasis on conversational English and a dash of grammar and spelling thrown in. Mornings are usually devoted to classes and afternoons are spent casually with students in excursions and activities. These may include touring museums and churches, mountain hiking, visiting woodcarvers’ shops, or simply going for a swim – while all along helping the students practice their English. Evenings are devoted to dinner and volunteer team meetings followed by informal time with students.
Service Program Logistics
Global Volunteers Poland Country Manager, Dorota Wierzbicka, leads all teams in Poland. Dorota is also Global Volunteers long-term Director of International Operations. In cooperation with our community partners, Dorota 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. Dorota 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 serving in Siedlce
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 are also able to rent some of its space to hold special celebrations such as weddings, company picnics, or other celebrations. Double and single rooms are available as well as triple and quadruple rooms that can accommodate families volunteering together. Each room is equipped with 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.
Volunteers serving in Zakopane
Villa Cztery Pory Roku guest house is located in a secluded forested area with a view of the Western Tatra Mountains, where you’ll fall asleep at night to the wind whispering in the pines. You will be accommodated in double occupancy. Single rooms are available for an additional fee. The property features a large garden filled with flowers, a playground with swings for children, as well as two regional log cabins where guests can barbecue. The villa also has a large dining room as well as a bar. The facility is equipped with wireless internet. Photos of Villa Cztery Pory Roku are available here.
Volunteers serving in Siedlce
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 are going to 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.
Volunteers serving in Zakopane
Volunteers on the Zakopane teams fly into the Krakow airport where they will be met by the Global Volunteers Team Leader as well as the Polish camp staff and students and transported to the camp in the Zakopane area on a large bus. Classes will take place onsite. You will also be transported to the airport on the last day of the program.
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.
Two hours from Zakopane is the celebrated city of Krakow, the capital of Poland from 1320 to 1609, and still a center of learning and culture as well as major industries. A popular attraction here is the Jagiellonian University (Krakow Academy) founded in 1364 and which counts Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II among its alumni. Lose yourself in Krakow’s narrow, winding streets flanked by centuries-old buildings, explore museums teeming with art treasures, sip a bracing cup of espresso at a sidewalk café, or browse for take-home treasures at the lively outdoor markets. Nearby and notable as well are the 1,000-year-old Salt Mines, housing an extensive collection of mining art, elaborate underground cathedrals, and curative baths. Many also decide to spend a day at Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp only 90 minutes from Krakow where millions of Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and political dissidents were killed in World War II. It’s a sobering, unforgettable experience, possibly the most moving site in Poland.
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