First-time Global Volunteer Ken Higgins was excited to teach children in Poland after his wife served on a Ghana Global Volunteers program in 2012. “I wanted to be able to help others in some fashion and experience a different culture. Based on Debbie’s recommendation of Global Volunteers, it seemed like a good organization to attain these goals, ” he said. He joined a summer language camp to teach children in Poland, and quickly concluded “the children of Poland gave and taught more than we did.” His report lends perspective to this reflection…
Journal entry by Ken:
It is 9:45 PM. The students have gone home. They are clearly what brings real life and joy to Reymontowka. Tonight was an evening filled with varying emotions for me, and I am sure many that were a part of the camp. On Monday when we began rehearsing for the final show, the kids began to speak Polish. I requested that they speak in English. Our team leader Dorota then explained they were talking about including me in their presentation possibly and they did not want me to know. I watched them rehearse our “final show” all week, offering help from time to time. I understood they wee going to perform alone. The other volunteers also planned to be off the stage for their class presentations.
When it was time in the program, my group took the stage and did the first of two songs, Count On Me. As they do most things (I admit I am biased), they did a great job. As their second song began, one of them walked over and took my hand and brought me to the stage with them to sing the song. At the end we all came together in a group hug. I would have cried had I not been so surprised and really overwhelmed. I know we all came to teach children in Poland and we all worked hard. I am sure they learn plenty. Yet, I cannot help to think those 61 children (8 particularly so for me) gave and taught more than we did. Their enthusiasm, energy and interest is hard not to feel.
It is so amazing what they are able to do at such a young age, working largely in their second language. While they could be loud and enjoyed having fun, there was not a single time any of them were anything less than respectful to us and maybe more impressive, each other. The more advanced were patient and helpful with the less advanced. All, advanced and less so, always always tried. From time to time, even often, they would struggle to find the word to complete a thought. They never stopped trying. Based on my effort to learn Polish, this is by no means an easy task. They put their heart into everything and by doing so it was hard not to do the same.
I am sure I was not even remotely the perfect teacher, and that is something to work on, but among the lessons I will leave here with is imperfection is sometimes far better than doing nothing from fear of not being good enough. Of course, then there are the adults that gave me their support and friendship. The other volunteers have given so much back to the world. Sophia (a 17-year-old fellow team member) has a lifetime to do the same and I have more than a few years, with God’s blessing, to help.
It is also hard to imagine these two weeks without our team leader Dorota and her assistant Iwona. I have definitely never met two more patient or supportive people. They kept us organized and made us feel like family. I am glad I was here to teach children in Poland, and my world crossed paths with all of these people these past two weeks. Home to the love of my life tomorrow.
How can I teach children in Poland?
Visit Global Volunteers’ Volunteer in Poland website page to learn more about service opportunities. Or, chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance and other program details.