Poland Volunteer Featured in Community Magazine: Judy of Woodbury, Minnesota was recently featured in her community’s magazine, highlighting her several Global Volunteers service program including two in Poland!
Woodbury Magazine Article
Retired science teacher Judy T. of Woodbury decided to try a volunteer trip in 1997 for the opportunity to travel, use her teaching skills and do something worthwhile. Trepka has taken six two-week trips, serving in Greece, Romania, Spain, Hungary and Poland (twice). “In Crete, Greece I helped restaurant and hotel workers with conversational English skills, and in Iasi, Romania and Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary I taught English to students, ” Judy says. “On my two trips to Poland, I helped business professionals improve their English skills as well as a retired University of Warsaw professor recovering from a stroke who had lost his English speaking skills. I worked with him for two weeks, 5-6 hours a day, and by the end he could speak English again. The Polish students told me ‘It’s a miracle, and his Polish is better too!’”
Judy traveled with Global Volunteers, a St. Paul-based organization supporting more than 100 host communities through year-round volunteer service, including caring for at-risk children, teaching conversational English skills, assisting local health education efforts and completing a wide array of local projects including painting, landscaping, building playgrounds and improving public works. “As is often the case with these programs, you get more than you give, ” says Judy. “And you’ll learn more about a country and its people than you will as a casual tourist. You’re expected to put in at least a 40-hour volunteer week, but the weekends are free for exploring lovely out-of-the-way places that organized tours never get to.”
Some highlights for Judy: seeing local World War II statues throughout Crete’s small villages, and enjoying paella at a restaurant in Rota, Spain in late November, “a magical time when every business and institution brought out unique, exquisitely beautiful nativity scenes, ” she says. But her true highlights were the cultural, human experiences gained through volunteering.
“In Hungary, the students would immediately rise and remain standing when I until I told them they could sit down; I had never experienced that as a teacher before, ” says Judy. “The food in Reymontowka, Poland was cooked with fresh produce plus milk and meat from the three-generation farm next door. I’ve never had a drink I enjoyed more than the fresh black current nectar served at breakfast.”