Team Journal ~ First Day of Teaching in Poland!

Journal Entry for October 5, 2010

I went in to today, Tuesday, a bit apprehensive and sleep deprived – it would seem that for me, it does not matter which side of the desk I am on when it comes to ‘first day jitters!’ But, breakfast came and went, and next thing I knew I was headed with driver Roman and three of my teammates towards our students in the city.

We arrived and began teaching in a flurry, and wouldn’t you know it… everyone had a fantastic time. Mike mastered a few key vocabulary words with the younger crowd, while 28 year old Vicki wowed the 5th and 6th graders with her ‘Awesome Cheer.’ Jim enjoyed many reunions with old summer camp friends, and I seemed to navigate the teen students without so much as a cross word or stern look (simply one invitation to speak in front of the class to spotlight chatty Damian’s language skills).

The afternoon was also filled with activities as folks such as Vicki, Darlene, Bruce and Ralph prepped for their first afternoon tutoring sessions. Dorota and I even had the privilege to drop in on Darlene at her after school program, as well as Marge and Rob with their advanced students. And may I say, Rob’s kids were joyously enthusiastic – due in equal part to English and Pan Rob from Denver no doubt. 

As our first day of teaching draws to a close and we hurriedly prepare for lesson #2, I am struck by a number of things. First and foremost, we are all so privileged to be here. No matter the motivation or intentions, we are a dynamic group of unique, colorful, educated, worldly folks who truly have something to offer to and learn from the Polish people everyday. Speaking personally, I know I have already learned a great deal from our team, Dorota, our students, and countless others that have impacted our journey in ways both obvious and unseen.

I want to thank everyone for building my appreciation for this program and I wish everyone fun celebrations in the immediate future and more life-changing connections and experiences in the weeks to come.

In closing, please – for my sake if for no other reason, as I am leaving so soon – never pass up an opportunity in this wonderful country side. Whatever the offer may be… Play tennis with Marek, drink tea with the deputy governor and play football with your students. As Dorota so wisely pointed out last Sunday, our teaching is a means to an end NOT an end in itself.

So, make your volunteer adventure rich, bold, meaningful and unexpected. I expect nothing less of you all and will look forward to hearing your stories in the weeks and months to come!!

Stephanie Peterson, Global Volunteers Volunteer Relations Manager
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