I appreciated having the weekend to reflect on my experiences to date. I continue to realize that coming to Poland is much more than just teaching conversational English. I must admit that I have been preoccupied with the flooding in my community and surrounding areas in Colorado. Thankfully Joanne is safe. Friends are finding ways to help neighbors. I look forward to getting back home and finding ways to volunteer.

I am hopeful that I am having an impact in Poland but hopefully my impact goes beyond just teaching English. The cultural exchanges will far exceed any impact I could have on improving the English capacity of these children and adults, although I know they appreciate the opportunity to practice their English skills.

I am probably the only atheist in my group but that is okay. For me the concept of god is not a noun but a verb. I respect the views of others but my sense of godliness does not come from institutional religion but comes from my interchange with people–these students, teachers and staff. That is true whether I am in Africa, Poland or anywhere else.

I realize that each of these children and adults are individuals with their own stories. I think of Joanna who stood proudly in class announcing her pride in being Polish. I think of the student, Dorota, who when speaking about her two year old baby, had a smile as big as this room. I think of the brother and sister who lost their mother to cancer a few months ago. Yes, they sometimes act out in class but I sense their pain and vulnerability. I can only bring them my smile and maybe my sense of humor. Hopefully I convey my love for them and even though I may never see them again. I think of the mother at the community center and her battle with family alcohol issues. Yet she remains so positive and strong. I think of Kamil, the autistic student, who always has a high five for me. And there is Patricia who upon seeing me coming insists on carrying my bag. And of course this trip would not be complete without thinking about my interactions with Poles throughout Warsaw and my fun tennis games with the manager and his friends. All these experiences and reflections take place even without knowing the language. Each of these experiences for me is godly and one I will never forget.

This report would not be complete without mentioning the successful community outreach program at the community center in Kotun. English lessons are being offered to the community and the response has been overwhelming. I am teaching four classes in the morning and two classes in the afternoon.

But now it is time to get ready for my next lessons.

Journal by Rene

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