Team 235: Off to a great start!

Our team gathered at the Warsaw airport around noon on Saturday, July 20.

Some of us boarded the trusty yellow van that belongs to Reymontowka, while others rode in a car with Marek, the director of Reymontowka.  Once at Reymontowka we were warmly welcomed with the bread and salt ceremony. This ceremony symbolizes that visitors are welcome and also that they will be well cared for during a visit.
We found our rooms that will be our home for the next two weeks and then gathered in the Red Room for dinner. Following this meal we played the name game as a way to meet each other and then each volunteer did a short introduction talking about our families and any previous Global Volunteer experiences.
After a short break we gathered in the work room. Dorota provided us with an overview of the schedule for the next two weeks. She then told us a bit about the history of the house. Then we did a tour of the grounds, enjoying the flowers and seeing the amazing wood carvings that are everywhere on the Reymontowka campus.
Quiet reigned after dinner as we unpacked and got settled, and probably some also grabbed a nap. A few went for a bit of a walk around the Reymontowka campus.
At 6:30 we gathered for supper. One volunteer asked, “Do we eat like this every day?” Her question means do we eat such delicious food every day and the answer is yes!  After the meal, most all disappeared to catch up on sleep.
On Sunday we gathered for breakfast at 8 AM. Following this we all went to the work room to begin orientation.
Dorota began by describing the history of Global Volunteers working in Poland. We learned Poland was the first place in which volunteers taught English, teaching in village schools in the fall of 1990. In 1991 the first summer camps were organized at Reymontowka using Global Volunteers as the English teachers. The official host for the Global Volunteer program in Poland is the county government of Siedlce. We may find that some of the campers come from other locations, but that probably means they have a Siedlce connection, such as grandparents who live in Siedlce. Dorota also briefly explained the Polish education system, noting that our campers are still in a population who began 1st grade at age 7.
Next we discussed the Global Volunteer policies and procedures. Dorota also answered questions regarding health and safety concerns. Dorota introduced the team journal and noted our journal entries would also be placed on the Poland blog within the Global Volunteer website.
The next task was the establishment of team goals. After input from all volunteers, the following team goals were set:
1.       To enhance children’s futures through development of English skills;
2.       To immerse ourselves in the Polish culture in order to share with our home communities;
3.       To grow personally and professionally through service;
4.       To make fun memories and build relationships; and
5.       To serve others to strengthen international understanding and good will.
Our next task was identifying the characteristics of an effective team. The following are our team’s ideas: communication, team work, honesty, trust, determination, patience, understanding, flexibility, cooperation, respect, willingness, compassion, creativity, ambition, sense of humor, and fairness.
We discussed special skills we might have including singing, drawing, and making crafts.  Dorota provided an orientation to the teaching materials found throughout the work room.
The next morning activity directly related to our newly formed team goal of immersion into the Polish culture. We first drove to nearby Kotun. We visited the grocery store purchasing some Polish treats. Then we started for Zeliszew, a place where volunteers may go to church if desired. On the way volunteers were amazed to see and photograph a stork’s nest.
We arrived in Zeliszew just as mass was ending. We got to experience the Polish Catholic tradition of the blessing of the cars. We admired the beautiful wooden church in this village.
Our team at the church

After dinner we met Sylvia who will be the program assistant.  She gave us a great Polish lesson.

Next we gathered in the tent and introduced ourselves. Then the campers were briefly interviewed to assess their English skills. Afterwards Dorota and Sylvia conferred and placed each camper into a learning group. Soon we all gathered again in the tent to meet the students assigned to us. Each volunteer met with their students for 5-10 minutes in order to get to know the students and their abilities just a bit.
Then it was time for the evening meal. Afterwards we had great conversation about what we have already learned in such a short time about Polish culture and history. Our team and its work are off to a great start.
Journal prepared by Lori
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