Hello, My name is Giorgi, I am from Georgia. I have just finished my EVS in beautiful city of Krakow, working in special need school with disabled people. During my staying here in Poland I have learnt and experience lots of things! I can honestly say that now my life is divided in two parts: before and after EVS.
Hi, I’m Bruno, 28, from Portugal. In this post I will share my experience meeting a Paralympic team in Kraków and having fun playing Boccia with students from a special school.
On the 22nd of April, me and other volunteers agreed to meet with physically disabled athletes who had just finished the marathon happening that day. We had the opportunity to interview the winner of the race, Rafał Szumiec. Even though I had to wait for a transcript of the recorded interview to actually know his replies to our questions (was held in polish), it was very empowering to peer into the mind of a person who suffered a crushing blow that would defeat lesser men, but not him… the finishing strike was his to deliver.
Rafał was a professional cyclist before the accident which robbed him of mobility from the waist down. So this was a man with a love for competitive sport, who was driven to excel and not resign to 2nd places. This defining features remained unchanged after the accident.
This strong willed man shared with us that his main concern was how to rebound quickly and return to competitive sport. He adapted to the whims of fate and got proficient in other sport modalities, namely handbike, mono-ski and wakeboard. He’s since participated in several competitions all over Europe and co-founded VeloAktiv, along with Katarzyna Rogowiec, a sports training group for Paralympic athletes, where mutual support, camaraderie and tough training sessions take place.
The fact that he achieved 1st place in Cracovia Marathon was not at all surprising, given his dedication to what he does. I saw in him a man that has come to terms with the fragility and unpredictability of the human condition, but nonetheless able to draw forth from a soul not at all diminished, but forged by fire.
Sometime after I had the chance to participate in a school event where volunteers and special needs students came together to play Boccia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boccia). It was certainly fun to play in 2 vs 2, without any need to “hold back”, since these students were well versed in the game and also due to this being a sport where mobility is not quite so important as intuitive understanding of the physics at play. In this way, with assistance from another person and with the aid of a special launching ramp, the student can give instructions regarding positioning of said ramp and finally “throw it” where intended. One of the students, Konrad, was particularly good at it and it was a joy to be paired with him.
All in all, I believe everybody got something out of the experience. Games in general are (mostly) always a great way to bring people together, foster co-operation and realize individual contribution as complementary to team effort in the pursuit of common objectives.
Due to the limitations these students have to live with, there can be a tendency towards isolation from the “outside world”, so I’m sure they appreciate opportunities when they can interact with people other than their immediate circle and transcend interpersonal barriers with something as simple as a game of Boccia.
My name is Guillaume Libralesso and I am from France. I grew up in Grenoble and lived in Montpellier, the best city ever in France, comparable to Alicante in Spain. My EVS started in the beginning of July, it was a really peaceful time and I did some workshops. School started in September and I will finish at the end of April.
Here we are in a special school for autistic children (Centrum Autyzmu i Całościowych Zaburzeń Rozwojowych w Krakowie) and I learn a lot because I never worked with autistic children before.I studied about autism but I was not really an expert. You can say that every student is different, you can say that they all have an autistic syndrom but actually it is impossible to put them in cases. I tried that because for me there were some cases to put children but in reality you cannot do so.
My advice for new volunteers In Krakow: Try to enjoy a lot. It all depends on you and you have to find your own role. You have to try a lot and don`t be scared. Try to find your way and try to communicate with people.
K: What would you never write a song about?
K: If you had to write a song about sports, what would be the 1st line of it?
G: Why? Why so much suffering?
K: Are Polish people strange?
G: For me sometimes yea. Sometimes they look so sad.
K: What surprises you most about Poland?
G: The difference to my country. It`s a diffence of people, a difference of history. Sometimes it`s difficult because we (our countries politics) are different about immigration, integration, multiculturalism. Also about how I can speak with people, about polite distance. I mean I need to learn to not shock Polish people, for example when I`m singing in a bus I can the the faces of the people. Then I say “oh, I`m not in a right way“.
The kids surprise me a lot, me coming to the Center of Autism and this kid speaking better English and French than myself. Comparing to France we cannot speak any languages.
K: Tell me three emotions to describe your work as a volunteer?
G: I feel I`m very useful. I can feel the love when I`m with the kids. It`s a lot working with behavior therapy and so on and I try to be passionate. I try to find my way. I try to give passions and love to kids. Sometimes I feel very useful, for example last lesson with Ania (name changed) because we can speak with people and can improve their language skills by talking English or French. Sometimes however, I`m just waiting for the end of the lesson and being useless.
What feelings I feel? It`s a lot of feelings, sometimes my work is very important, exciting, also boring. I feel love. One kid is very touching me, because he can`t speak and has problems and I try to help him.
They are different but in the same time they can give a lot of things to normal people.
K: What`s your favourite food?
G: It is Japanese food.
K: What`s your artist name?
G: I don`t have. When I was young my nickname was Marcel but today I`m just Guillaume and I try to be Guillaume.
K: What do you plan to do after your EVS?
G: I never plan nothing! I want to stay until September in Poland, maybe find a job just to have money to stay.
K: Dziekuje bardzo for the interview!
G: Thanky you too!
volunteer in EVS project “INTERvolunteering”
Hello there people from all the world! Here is Peppe again with a short story for you.
New day, new experience. This time we focused in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, no, not North Korea, I’m talking about Italy of course, magical land of Pizza.
Thanks to Nicholas, Mara and I had the chance to go in his school for their Italian day. Nicholas is volunteering in a kindergarten so we met super cute children (Mara wanted to steal a couple of them).
First they had a little performance showing us their flight travel from Poland to Italy, after that they started to do something very Italian…playing with pasta ahahah.
After that we had some activities together. First we talked about Italy, they made also a map without Sicily L…then they showed us their skills with Italian language, earing “Buongiorno” or “Grazie” from them was priceless, our hearts were melting, I don’t know how can Nicholas be still alive with all this cuteness around every day, is too much.
Later we played some Italian songs with guitar for them, it was very funny cause Mara and I never tried before but children were very interested, they also asked us to play more and finally we taught them an Italian song for children, they really liked it, and we had the chance to be kids again.
MOST IMPORTANT THING: we prepared together some pizza! They were very nice and happy and pizzas looked really good at the end but we didn’t have the possibility to eat it cause it was too late and we had to go, ask to Nicholas about the taste…bastard…but they prepared some present for us, we are still waiting for it Nicholino.
See you soon people from the world.
Even though English lessons are full of interesting materials, games, videos and songs, sometimes it can be very tiring to to learn all the grammar rules that are written in the plan. After few months of being a volunteer here in school, I noticed one interesting thing. Students who are playing computer games are very good in English for their age. They were more confident to start a conversation and their vocabulary is wider. Maybe their grammar knowledge is not the best, but they are not afraid to talk and to make mistakes. We all know that the mistakes are one of better ways to learn. Over time, with help of computer games, children can develop other skills, like memory, fast decision-making and social interaction.
There are also other ways to learn English. Listening to music, reading books and articles, watching films and TV series in English is great way of learning language. In fact, that’s where most of my vocabulary comes from. I like watching TV series and that’s how I learned a lot of English phrases. Also, my pronunciation got better. Besides this, some songs helped me to remember some grammar rules and how to spell some words. For example, I was looking for the lyrics of the song “Soldier Of Fortune” so many times that I had to learn that the word “Soldier” is written like that, not “Solider” which I thought before. Thanks to the song “Simply The Best” I remembered that article “the” always goes before superlative.
So, my advice to the children would be to watch their favorite films, TV series and cartoons in English, to listen to the music in English and to try to understand the lyrics and over time the improvement will be visible.
By Natalija from Serbia
Hi everybody, I’m Giuseppe (Peppe), a new volunteer here in Krakow with IB Polska. I will tell you about my wonderful experience that had place some week ago, the Spanish day!
Everything started when Natalja, a Serbian volunteer, asked me to take part of this event in her school. I know, Giuseppe it’s not properly a Spanish name, as you already notice I’m Italian, but she asked me in order to play some Spanish song with the guitar, of course I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Our “team” was composed by Carmencita, Maria, Rafita, Ildelfonso, Esti (all from Spain), Hanna (Iceland), Natalja, and me. At the beginning of the day we had a super competition of Tortillas the patatas, which was the best part for me eheheheh. The kids in the school prepared 21 different kind of Tortillas! It was a pleasure for me to taste all of them, ok maybe not really ALL of them, but don’t say it to the kids ;D
It was very funny for us to see the faces of kids asking for our grades, promoting their tortillas and speaking with us in English, personally a girl also touched my hair ahahahahah, ops sorry jajajajajaj.
The tasting phase was complete so we had a short meeting to decide the winners of the competition, after declaring the winners we passed to the second phase, songs! We went for the most famous actual Spanish songs…yes…that one…Despacito and Bailando.
Also in this case the kids were very excited, some of them sang even louder than us and after that they shared some Polish songs played with the accordion, the sound of it was amazing and we all were fascinated about it.
It was beautiful for me to see different cultures merging so well, cause yes we had a lot of fun but it’s not only about eating some delicious tortillas, it’s about seeing the prejudice and the racism going away to make space for happiness, joy and peace. Tortillas de patatas is the best for it 😉
Our project Act2Activate went to the village Giebułtów for a special day. The school organized a language competition of the English and also German language.
We, volunteers, contributed by organizing the Living Library as well as making a presentation about Kassel. We arrived by bus in the morning and were welcomed warmly by the teachers and students preapring the language competition. The students prepared some stories and presentations to show to the audience. The topic countries of this years competition were Scotland and Austria.
Furthermore our two German volunteers had the opportunity to present their home-city Kassel and give some fun-facts. After a short break we became books. All of us, telling a different story. And that`s exactely what is the aim of the Living Library: People become books and tell their audience what`s inside of it. Students searched the contact to us, even though in the beginning they were a little shy. In the end we`ve had some interesting conversations and a positive outcome. We are happy to come back some day for another event.
Voluntary work can always be a good idea, especially if it is not in the city the person is born in.
Due to this fact, we as EVS Volunteers in one primary school in Krakow, had a great experience doing this extra-voluntary work on the Language camp in Siedlikow, Ostrzeszow. Together with two Ex- volunteers, Paul and Ildefonso, we had a chance to be together with 35 teenagers up to 15 years old, and 3 amazing teachers. The whole event started on Friday evening, and finished on Sunday afternoon. At first, every volunteer had a team of approximately 8 teenagers, and during the weekend we had a lot of different interactive competition games. At the end the teachers were collecting the points of every game and there was a price for every person
During the second day of the weekend, we went for a short hike in the woods close to the school. There we made barbecue, had a lot of fun and the teams were making videos for a very popular Christmas song. And the last day, but not the least, we went for a short excursion to one very beautiful city, especially for Christmas time, Wroclaw.
To sum up in few words: a lot of happy faces in one place, good vibes, positive energy, great atmosphere, friendly teenagers, and teachers providing with pleasure everything a volunteers and teenagers need.
Happiness is doing small things, with great love.
Natalija from Serbia
Marija from Macedonia
The second Friday of October volunteers and interns played the city game “Explore Krakow”. They formed four competing groups “Die Glücksbärchies”, “People”, “Stereotypes” and “Boo”. Starting from Wojewódzka Biblioteka Publiczna w Krakowie in Rajska 1 they interviewed Poles, met challenges and finally became rewarded with Zapiekanki at Plac Nowy in Kazimierz where the game ended after more or less 150 minutes of exploring. We officially announce the 1st place with 500 points: “Stereotypes”.
Let`s imagine 15 young people. They are in a library in Krakow. Running around but trying not to distract anyone (because it`s a library still). Eager to find this one painting. The artist name is Pawel Slota.
“Register and make a library card. (Trust me, it doesn`t take long and is free of course) After this you borrow one book (In the 2nd floor there are also foreign languages).” This task was also successfully completed by (most) of the rivals, as you can see here:
Next stops: Stare Miasto, Bania Luka, Collegium Maius, Tree of Independence, Ambassada, Wawel Dragon. What happened at the Wawel dragon is worth to show you, so enjoy this funny task: “Create a human circle around the Wawel dragon with each of you holding hands. The dragon is pretty big, isn`t it? Your challenge is to find people to support you to close the circle. Take a photo!”
“I was surprised that so many people supported us creating the circle” ~ said a volunteer from one of the groups. Also the interns from Germany are enjoying to get to know Krakow in an interactive way. “We are happy that the organization goes so smooth and that the cooperation is uncomlicated” said one of them.
However, in the end every group made it to the final task and everyone was rewarded by a huge Zapiekanka (Polish Pizza baguette) and they decided to “den Tag ausklinegen lassen” in a cozy Cafe (meaning having a nice and relaxed ending of the day in a Cafe).
The last day of September eight (ex)volunteers, Marija, Nataljia, Georgina, Pascal, Ilfonso, Rafa, Giorgi, Kathi and Natasza from IB Polska office visited and supported the Farmer`s Day (Dzień Farmera) at the Farm of Life in the village Więckowice. The farm is a home for people who suffer from autism – the only one in Poland. We were a pretty multiculti and balanced group of volunteers, representing seven different countries which are Spain, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, Germany, Georgia and last but not least Poland. Together we supported some activities for children and enjoyed the delicious traditional Polish food.
Chapter I – The Welcoming
For us the day started at Nowy Kleparz at 10 am. By public transport we travelled to the village Więckowice and the head of Farma życia welcomed us and showed us around the places. Everywhere people were busy preparing things for their stand of marmelade, honey, self-made porcelain-sculptures, cake as well as a barbecue. Soon the event was oficially opened and more and more people and visitors came. We prepared big papers for a game for children, it was supposed to become a print made out of human hands. We also ate a lot because we could try all the food such as sausages, salads, different cakesand coffee and tea for free.
Chapter 2 – The Mini-Run
After two concerts we started to prepare seven stations for the Mini-Run as a challenge for chidren, but not only for children – everyone was invited to try the run. 1st station – boule game, 2nd station – throwing a medicine ball as far as possible, 3rd station – throwing a basket ball into a bucket, 4th station – slalom-jumping race in sacks, 5th station – throwing small soft-balls into rings, 6th station – parcours on the playground and last station – painting the big paper with hands and feet prints (It was a lot of fun for the children to run over the paper with bare, painted feet) and also for us it was a great peasure to see the development of the print, not knowing how it will look like exactely in the end. Especially the small children enjoyed the fast games such as jumpin-race in sacks and parcours on the playground. Some of th autistic people didn`t like that so much honesty, but really enjoyed thowing small soft-balls into the rings. Pani Gea was also very happy to paint the hair of the children.
Chapter 3 – Human Print and Reward
After a while the children had enough of the games and we finished it. We became also a part of the human print and Natasza painted our hands in different colours. Fortunately we even had some time to explore other attractions such as horse riding, horse carriage riding, fire truck and a huge bouncy castle. The time was come to reward the chidren for their hard work and they received a certificate of participation as well as bags with some small prices and gadgets. We volunteers enjoyed the day and the sunny weather with fresh air in the countryside and would like to visit the farm again.
article by Katharina Becker
Hi, my name is Paulina, I’m from Poland and I’m 28 years old.
I am a Technical and Computer Science Education graduated in Poland. I want to find my way in life. I want to share my experience and my skills with another people. I see more development opportunities in another country than Poland. When I studied, I was 6 months on practice in Germany. That was it! I feel good there, but I could stay only to the end of practice. I decided to find a some European project. That was EVS ,so new challenge. I didn’t know how it would be… I start my adventure with EVS in October 2016. I finding on IB-Polska website, 3 offers for voluntary work. I choose some project in Arche Neuenhagen near Berlin. So, great I’m near a capitol of Germany, the largest multicultural place in the world. I knew already Berlin, I was here in 2009. But Berlin is such a big city, so to get to know it well you must to spend a few years. In my work I was the only foreigner. I had a great chance to learn the language quickly. I could also develop my graphic skills. In my work place we organizes open-air concerts, events, courses, so I can make posters, flyer, concerts tickets. Two days a week I work in senior’s house. I prepare breakfast, help with cleaning and to keep senior’s company. EVS is a combination of gaining knowledge, learning the language and possibility to meet people from all over the world. Teach a patience, understanding, openness.
article by Paulina Krych
New country, new city, new everything
Don’t be totally scared (like me), even if everything seems so strange, people so different from you, language so difficult. Breath and think that, after a few days or weeks, you will be able to understand how things work there and that you will feel part of this environment.
Download as soon as possible an app for transport, it will be fundamental! With the time, you will know all (well, almost all) the tram/bus stop, a lot of streets and squares; but at first, fell into a mysterious new city, you will need something able to guide you wherever you want to go.
Buy a SIM card with a new number, and subscribe an offer for calls, messages and internet. If, unluckily, you will not have WIFI at home (but you can manage to have it), this will save your life.
New home and new flatmates
Before meeting your new flatmates, relax. They will be just the people that you will see every morning just woke up and every afternoon after the job; the people with who you will share bathroom, kitchen, toilet paper, money for all the stuff for clean! So c’mon, don’t be pressured 😀
It’s not important if they will become your best friends or not; the basis has to be a pacific co-existence under the same roof.
Speak about who has to do what in the flat (mainly regarding buy things to share and clean) and when. There is nothing worst than fight because of non-washed dishes or dirty bathroom! So, just divide your tasks.
Speak in general about anything you are uncomfortable with. It’s useless live thinking about what you don’t like in the flat.
Live and let the others live.
Speaking only about an experience in a kindergarten, my tips can be:
Prepare yourself to share a class with teachers that, maybe, don’t speak English (or don’t speak English so good). At first they can be worried to try to talk with you, but the things will get better with time.
Children don’t speak English, of course (at least, mine – they were 3-4 years old, so it’s pretty normal); and you don’t speak their language. Also, they will be so surprised that you can’t understand them; it was so hard, for me, let them know that I really didn’t understand what they said.
At this point, the main question can be: ok, perfect, and so?
Learn some easy words and sentences (not only “I don’t understand” and “I don’t speak Polish” – even if they were my favourites) to try to get a connection with them.
Smile a lot
Play with them, you don’t need words for that
Be ready to catch every word and every sound, because everything will be really useful during your stay among them (for example, after some time it was really easy to understand requests like “can you help me?”, “can I go to the toilet?”, “can I take it?”, “come with me”, “can you draw me a butterfly/flower?”, “can you read that?”
Ask them to teach you something
Try to teach them some words in your language or in English
Don’t lose your time doing nothing. You can be useful to a lot things, not only to play or build something or dance: help with the breakfast and the lunch, help children to get dressed, clean a little after meals (probably no one will ask you that, but they can’t not appreciate that :D).
Speak with your mentor or with your supervisor about any kind of problem
Enjoy the trainings, because they are amazing experiences!
Be totally open-minded, know as much as people, food, places as possible!
Write a diary in order to remember a lot of things that you could forget! It’s also a great help in difficult moments (trust me).
article by Laura Caruzzo