Szla dzieweczka do laseczka

Meeting in Centre for Social Inclusion in Tychy



Centre for Social Inclusion in Tychy is the project of IB Polska and is active since 10 years.

On August 11th four EVS volunteers and Natasza – coordinator from IB Polska office went to Tychy, which is about 1 hour distance from Krakow. The meeting supports cultural exchange between the people of Tychy and the diverse EVS volunteers.

Social worker Paweł Świeżko and the manager Bartłomiej Szymczyk welcomed us and explained their mission. The social centre supports unemployed people (however, unemployment in Tychy is only 3%) and also they set up events for local seniors in order to create a regular senior club and promote social contacts amongst the Tychyerians. About 1300 people get help through food support. Students have the opportunity to do an internships.

First we met people suffering from unemployment due to different reasons. Beatrice prepared a presentation about unemployment in Italy, which is about 40%. She explained that particularly in the South of Italy unemployment is higher than in the North.

The presentation was followed by discussion and the Tycherians are highly interested about the situation of our home countries. Also, we talked about refugees in Europe and realized again that there are huge differences in dealing with refugees in Europe. Polish borders are closed. Italy has to deal with many, many people who fled from war or hunger. Germany is not located at EU border. But this is another pair of shoes.

The volunteers are asked about what they mostly liked about Poland. The answers: Girls, Polish cities (Gdansk in particular), the EVS lifestyle in Krakow.

Later that day we met the seniors who welcomed us warmly and the atmosphere was very positive. Guillaume presented France and Xabi made a video about Spanish culture and the country. We danced and sang and ate food that we prepared. We have eaten delicious Spanish self-made Tortillia di Patatas, French baguette and cheese and German Rote Grütze (also self-made of course).

The seniors prepared traditional Polish “Szla dzieweczka do laseczka” song for farewell, they sang with a lot of passion.

What I like most about that day? The world is a small village. Pawel and I found out that our grandmothers were born in the same Polish village in the North of Poland. Maybe they know each other, I am excited to find out, but we will see. 🙂



article and photography by

Katharina Becker

(EVS volunteer)

Meet Laura

EVS is always about sharing experiences in multicultural atmospheres, but if you apply for this kind of projects, one of the possibilities about accommodation is to share flat or dormitory, almost always with people of other countries and cultures. Of course is not only about share flat, that also involves sharing practically all your live, since the moment that you wake up till the one that you go to bed 24h/7 days, during all your project.


This is my case. I am Laura, from Spain and nowadays I am living with Julia(Ukraine), Dyliana (Bulgaria), Sofia (Italy) and Thomas (France). Can you imagine what it is like? At least I will tell you what it suppose to me.

It is said that you cannot know how is something until the moment that you live it. Before starting my EVS I was thinking how be to live with people of different countries and cultures that mine, as in all the new experiences, fears , could it be curiosity and expectation were in the same level, always in my mind. You think so many things that language differences seems to be the least important problem.

Then , after one intensive day of farewells, luggage, trains, planes and feelings, you arrive to your flat trying to do your best and not stand out too much, this idea stays for more or less the 1st hour in a “welcome party” Time runs, and you really start to feel comfortable and after 2 months living abroad , you need to express nationalist feeling. Yes, suddenly you start to appreciate your country more than in all your life: your food and dishes are the best, your music is the good one, even the greets, your schedule of your voice tone. Between laughs your days are based in discussion about which country is the best, why you cannot cook pasta with chicken , give two kisses to all the people , or speak loudly all the time. Although there is a lot of differences between cultures , you always can find a common point, something that represents us all. In our case it has been , for example our love for sleep and for the famous “siesta”, always present in our flat.

After the fase of “countries fight”, more known as “negation fase: No, your country is not better than mine” starts the one of “acceptation: okey, maybe I can take some very good things out of your country”. So, your little brain starts to open , step by step , and it is when you begin to see that (surprise) you are not the center of the universe! and that other cultures can contribute to you a lot of things. It is amazing when a world of possibilities is opened in front of you and one day you discover yourself listening French rap , reading Italians writers, loving Ukrainian sweets or saying Halo in the telephone. Your menu is international now and you have new expressions to use in all the languages. Inside of you so much things are changing: you start to know how much we can learn about the differences and how important are for our development , you understand why people is different and why they have distinct ways to live and how important is the culturalization in that. You know that differences are not the same that problems, and that you can live, share and have fun with people that have not your lifestyle. And in this way you start to know more yourself, cause is only when your are surrounded by different when you realize, at the same time how different and unique are you.

I’ve just past the meridian of my EVS, and I cannot imagine how I could live before without all this experiences and people in my life. To life in a international flat opens your mind and your heart till unsuspected limits, now, not only your English is a mix between 5 languages , you become a person with one nationality and five differences ways to understand, to see and to love the world.

Meet Andres


One of the best ideas I ever had in my life was to join this wonderful Project. I needed to spend some time away top ut in order my ideas and it’s being perfect. It was even more attractive when you hear everything’s for free. Now let’s be serious. I met here some of the most beautiful persons I have ever met, people that made me feel really great and that have been really great with me, not only from my workplace or my organization, it was specially the other volunteers I met. It is always hard to leave home, even more if you spent all your life around the same places as in my case. I met here such professional people here  from who I learned a lot, and not only that, I found here a big diversity of people, and also made friends that I know they will be there for all my life. In addition to that, I also participated in activities that made me improve a lot my skills and made me grow as a person, like the two trainings I had and some workshops.

On my On Arrival Training in Warsaw I realized what could I expect from this experience, how to make more interesting the work being creative and organizing different activities, to set some of my goals to reach in this time. It was also a great opportunity to meet other volunteers that are also participating in different projects all around Poland, which also could mean a great opportunity to travel around and discover more about this nice country and be hosted for free!

On my Mid-Term Training, this time in Toruń, I found it even more interesting, at least for me, because all the activities we made were focused in making us think about how we were developing ourselves during our projects. I really had to think a lot about my feelings and thoughts I already did during all this time, such a big amount! I realized that the goals I set during my training in Warsaw are getting closer and closer, something really surprising because in a beggining I thought that maybe they were a bit too high and difficult to reach, but I have been reaching them without realizing!

In few words, during this time I developed myself in a way I could never imagine I became such a new person, not only because of me, also from which I learned from the people that surrounds me day by day and that is something i will never thank enough to averyone of that people.

After this experience, I will be back in Spain, ready to set and reach new goals with my new me. IMG_20161027_104052DSCF5185

Meet Anna


Hello, my name is Anna, I?m from France and I?m 23 years old.
I?m a social worker graduated in France and despite of the wealth of training and the desire to work at this job, it?s perfect indispensable to acquire other experiences with different audiences before entering the professional life, but also to engage in volunteering, learn a new language, discover a country and meet new people. The choice to enroll in a program abroad was motivated by the opportunity to consolidate my knowledge, but also to test and confront a different audience of its culture and his situation. That?s why this year I do my EVS in Krakow, in Poland for 10 months. I have specifically chosen this country for obvious personal reasons: I?m of Polish ancestry and the daily life in this beautiful city forged with history has allowed me to flourish through the many outings, visits and meetings that I did, but also to get closer to my origins.

I work in a special school for disabled children at the age between 7 and 13 years old, 5 days a week. My role is to help teachers and support children in their daily lives. I participate in class time, going out, accompanying children to the toilet, helping them to eat … I learn methods to communicate with them in order to integrate them into society. This work is sometimes difficult, but particularly interesting and seems
to be the logical continuation of my experiences. Indeed, it?s for me a moral step above all to give time and energy to children who bring me a lot of love and joy in my life.

I built my experience in Poland on values of union and multiculturalism and this project allowed me to open myself to another culture and develop my curiosity. The European Voluntary Service appeared to me to be an evidence to fill this desire for enrichment, both personal, cultural and relational. It’s a very rich experience !

Meet Jac

IMG_207822I caught the volunteering bug when I was aged just 17 and I have continued to be a volunteer until this day. I do it because every one of my volunteer experiences have been different, the location, the job, the people, the food etc. You get a chance to work on projects that interest you without needing to have the necessary qualifications to work in that specific field. Hell, let?s face it, I?ll have plenty of stories to tell the grandkids!

I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting Multiple sclerosis when I was 25. Naturally, I was devastated but it really made me reflect on what I wanted from my life – to travel more and see what I want to see in the world before my disease progresses too far.  At the time, I had been working for a multinational bank for eight long years and so after saving up a decent amount of money, I decided to quit my job to go traveling whilst my mobility allowed for it. There?s a stigma attached to working for free at my age, some friends think that I?ve lost it and genuinely worry for my wellbeing and future – How will you pay your mortgage? Will you get a job again? You just have to be a bit more responsible and make sure that you have a bit of money behind you and then go for it! Now don?t get me wrong, it would be great to still be earning money however I can appreciate that some experiences are worth more than their weight in gold.

On my EVS here in Krakow, I work Monday to Friday 8.30 ? 14.30, where , I work in a centre that runs workshops for people suffering with mental illness where to my surprise some of the participants speak English and I?ve had some great conversations with them.

I decided to apply for this EVS as I am considering going to University as a mature student when I eventually return to Scotland. The experiences gained here in Poland would put me in a good stead to gain a place at University to study social care. My main struggle in Poland has been learning the language if I?m honest! However, I do understand a lot even if my pronunciation is diabolical at times…

Meet Silvia


I?m Silvia from Italy and I?m 22. Studying was all I?ve done in my life, and even if it was what I wanted and it gave me a lot of good memories , I?ve always known It wouldn?t be enough. Travelling was the best part of my University life and after that I wanted to challenge myself in other ways. When I started thinking about what to do after University I already knew the answer: EVS! Why not? New people, new country, new languages. New me.  I wanted to get out of the box of my comfort zone, to open my mind, try myself in something I?ve done before but in a different way. Evs gives you a lot of chances, but you have to be open to catch them. It?s up to you. But if you learn how much power you have then you realize how important this experience can be.  What I had before Evs was quite a lot, and something to be proud  of. And I?m not saying that what I gain from Evs I could not gain from other experiences. But this time is giving me so much! I?ve started Evs that I was an open minded and very friendly person and yet everything I was is changing into something I like more. The challenge of a new life, the difficulties with stranger languages, problems with different cultures and all the lovely or strange people I meet everyday are part of a life that Ii wouldn?t change. Slowly, the problems are not problems anymore and I can appreciate all the things around me that make me grow and make me stronger. But Evs means also family. The one you left home of course, with all your parents and friends that you know will be there for you anytime.  And the one you built during this time, not less strong.  People you don?t know and you love the day after. People you maybe can not understand or people who have different ideas or life style, but you?ll love anyway, sharing with them your dailylife and great  experiences.

Evs is something made to involve and connect young European people. It?s an EU project, founded by European institutions. During the time I?m spending here in Krakow I?ve realize   that institution?s effort to unify Europe can be great, but most of responsibilities are up to us, to grow u together and be friend regardless our differences. We don?t have to change to be similar, but to accept us and live together, and maybe we?ll realize that it?s easier that what people usually think. And maybe if we can do it during our EVS time, what can stop us to do all the time? What can stop us to be that kind of Europe we clearly are not yet?

Meet Yassamine

Hello, my name is Yassamine and I came from France. I wanted to make myself useful and travel so, the idea of the European voluntary service seduced me immediatly.

What I learn is to be patience, determined and to share.

Why sharing?

Well, it s easy: Because  if we are not ready to give a little of ourselves and to receive a little from the other we can’t grow up, we live without conviction.

Well now it’s time to tell you a story

once upon a time in a country which is Poland is a small village named  Wiekowicie approximately 20 km from Cracow, there is a farm called Farma Zycia.

No no no they do not take care of cows, sheeps and compan.

This farm is used to receive people with autism, essentially adults.

Why? How?

Actually the autism is one of handicaps very vast and every person reacts differently

But strangely in contact with the nature these people evolve very quickly.

They learn how to react every day , but also to enjoy art (painting, ceramic, garden center) everything becomes simpler when everyone makes an effort there..

This story is my story of voluntary service.

This story began with many concerns (the unknown), fears (the language)

then has continued with determination and the link with the others

and now it is a lot of happiness of sharing with the others (autistic essentially but not only)

This adventure is only the beginning of a bigger future.



Meet Simone

simone2After having finished my studies I wanted to expand my view of the world and gain some
new experiences. The idea of volunteering abroad is something I immediately fell in love with
because participating in social work in a country whose language I don?t speak and I don?t
know much about seemed like a big challenge, but it also pledged numerous adventures and
the great chance to grow personally and professionally.
Different ways of life, cultures, social matters and issues of ethnicity and identity intrigue me
much. When I heard of the project ?Youth for diverse Europe? I therefore felt that I have to
take part in it. To me, working in an environment with people from any side of the planet,
from heterogeneous social backgrounds and with different abilities is a very enriching
experience because there is a continuous process of knowledge and experience sharing which
broadens your mind. Amongst others, that is a reason why I decided to do the EVS.
Besides, it offers lots of prospects for gaining new competences. For instance, improving my
language skills is a big aim because language is an important tool in order to create a link
between people and to understand why they act like they do. This applies particularly in view
of the fact that in today?s globalised world multilingualism is more vital than ever.
During my EVS I work for an association, which aims to strengthen Jewish identity and helps
raise awareness of diversity and anti-discrimination issues. One of the many projects realized
by my hosting organization is a venture called ?Anti-Semitism is not an opinion?. I think this
project provides a great chance to break down prejudices, to put the own ideas and
perceptions into question and to think about social constructs such as culture or identity. I
consider that in the moment we are living right now, differences are widely seen as barriers
and things that should be feared. That is why it is particularly important to pay attention to the
benefits of diversity which is not really hard when you meet so many lovely people from all
over the world who make every day special and filled with fun.

Meet Paul


My name is Paul-Cristian and I’m from Romania. Actually I’m from the heart of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca. I?m 24 years old, and at this moment the Vice-president International relations in ASTRU CLUJ. – Greek Catholic Youth Association from the Eparchy of Cluj-Gherla.

I came here not because I felt the need to do something new, but because I wanted to grow in all the ways possible. I wanted to make a difference around me and in my own life.

Before coming here I was working in my volunteering activity with youth and children.  And here my growing process starts because here I work with mature people with mental disabilities.  To be sincere I was expecting to be more difficult but what I can say for sure is, that you know how to work with children you know how to work with every single person.

I really like this city and I can?t wait to have more time after WYD (World Youth Days) Krakow 2016. To visit it and find more interesting places and events. This is what I like this EVS (ERASMUS +)  project, he does not limit you, but he actually give you an open door to do more and more and the possibility of getting involved in all the volunteering activities you?ve always dreamed of  being part of.

In this EVS (ERASMUS +) I?ve got the chance of meeting great people, of learning cuisine of beautiful countries from Europe. But not stopping at activates for this EVS project I got the chance of making friend from all the continents of the earth.  I really feel until now that I made a great choice.


Meet Balazs

14249039_1157288314328508_1448506664_nI will tell you a story. … Have you ever heard this hit? I have. Rather let me tell you what was in my suitcase when I arrived to Cracow, Poland.

First of all, every good story has some dates. So it started on 2nd of May 2016. and I was angry then because I had my 26th birthday which meant I could not travel cheaper anymore. 5 days later I moved to Poland.

Before that I packed everything in my luggage and started to check what I have. There was  my underwear, my shirts, towels and my fears as well as my 300 English words that I already knew. Yes, the rest and the grammar forgotten somewhere in the dark past. My fears were real because I have never been abroad even for vacation. Besides, do you know what does this mean if you were born in Hungary? Exactly. You’ve never ever seen any sea or ocean. Eventually, it wasn’t a big problem thanks to the other awesome volunteers.

Here is another unimportant data: 07th of May 2016. I got off the bus in Cracow to work with disabled adults. I just occupied my new place and my first way guided to a house party where everybody spoke English. Nowadays I call it good experience, but back then I thought I wouldn´t leave my safe flat anymore.

The ?next stop? was Warsaw, the capital of Poland. It was the part of my project and I had the best week of my life there. It was so impressive to meet another people from different parts of Europe, to find out that the Italians more or less can understand the Spanish and reversely, to learn that the Warsawians don’t like so much the Cracowians and to realize sometimes the hot chocolate is more expensive than 1 liter of beer.

I experienced what a pleasure is to be a Hungarian in Poland during the soccer European Championship. One time after the Hungary-Iceland match we were in the queue to pay with a huge Hungarian flag on our back when an unknown Polish guy came and said congratulations, it was a nice game. I watched the finals at Gdynia where I swam in the sea for the first time. Try to imagine how does it look like when a 26 year old child -I mean a man- see a real medusa for the first time. Obviously I will not tell you what happened when I saw the first pirate boat in my life.

Two months later I held my first workshop in English. I started to learn Spanish, met a guy who forgave me even if I didn’t ask for his forgiveness. Kayaked on the biggest river in Poland,  Wistula. (Keep calm I didn’t tell them our river is three times larger.) Saw an old woman in the park who trained her squirrel. The scariest thing was that the squirrel obeyed her. And felt on my own skin when the east block fall in love with the west between two rains. So this is the turbo version of my first 4 month of EVS.

Now maybe you are curious why I gave that title. A few days ago I was sitting on the toilet at my workplace when one of our teachers came and knock on the Heaven’s door and asked me: Kto to jest? (Who are you?) So what should I answer? Guys forget the movies, Poland is THE country where everything can become a reality. Don’t forget, dream big and make it bigger! 😉

In the End(re)

Change. That is the key word of society and civilization. Without change innovation and developement can?t be possible. Neither inside or outside. It was also the keyword for my life as a child. I went to 5 different schools in 3 different places, two different continents during my childhood. When I just started to make a group of friends I had to move and this happened until 2001, when we moved back to Budapest, Hungary. There I stayed for 9 years, too long of a period for a journeyman like me. I needed change, I craved for it. I was never born to stay in Hungary. So I decided to jump into a new challenge, embark on a new journey. This time though it was different. In the period I spent in my country I developed a bad habit of not finishing l, not following through with my goals, one of them being to learn polish, which I started and stopped at university. So that?s what I decided to finish, but since school was not the best place to study, I thought I would try to live in Poland. And that is when I met EVS, and applied to go to it. So it happened that I did not get accepted to that project. I would have helped blind children in Laski, but I guess I was not considered good enough.


One year later an other opportunity came up. My sending organization showed me a few planned projects in Poland, and one of them caught my eye. I had a chance to work with children in Krakow and I took it since I wanted to work with them after the year is done. This time luckily I did get chosen, which made me very excited. Like with everything I do in life, my excitement as turned into motivation and drove me to create half-baked plans and fantasies on how I will change the childrens’ lives with my fantastic programs and activities. I wrote up many activities in my head an on paper what I can do with the kids. I also wrote up what I wanted to change in myself.

Back in Hungary, I was not out-going, I was a gray shadow of myself. The problem was, I had an urge a craving to be THE MAN, to be that person everyone turns to when they need help. But the proper tools, the skills I needed were not in my possession, and my ‘understandable’ speech was not helping either. Anyway I decided to dedicate the ten months for this. Well my motivated self did at least, in the outcome was not so good. Even though I got a lot of opportunities to get help, in the end, subconsciously and consciously I chose the easy path and a slow mellow death to the motivated me in the lukewarm pool of comfort, familiarity and nothingness. As it happened, I chose to jump back into the Jacuzzi where I stayed too long already and was uncomfortable, than follow the uncomfortable path to a deeper, more fulfilling ocean, the vast collection of skills.

I am grateful for life for giving me the help that I would have needed to get to the ocean. My project was great, and the people I was with even better. In my flat, I lived with 3 other volunteers at least, two of which I could have used to help me in my goals much more. With a brief detour I would like to mention that all the volunteers were great, had an impact on me and I will cherish them, but these two had some skills I lack so much. First my colleague, a goal driven, ambitious young girl from Ukraine who loved to share her thoughts. Her attitude should have rubbed off on me. The second a great leader, creative, demanding and unique roommate of mine, a person named Mouslim. They were the ones I could have taken a lot from, but I threw them away in my mood of mediocrity and nihil. The others are a colorful bunch, have many great traits and I had great times with them.

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My project was also one of the best. In there I practically could have done anything I wanted to. My ?boss? was ambitious, thoughtful, creative and her colleagues as well. They would help in any way they could. The possibilities were endless. They made many diverse and unique events and competitions for the kids. We went to museums, plays, did sports events, thought them about other cultures, anything you name, we did. They pushed me, yet I did not push myself hard enough and backed up sometimes at a challenge. To everyone witnessing my free-fall into the nihil, sorry, to those who are reading this post before, or during your EVS: don’t be like me. Use your time wisely and creatively, initiate and live your dream (or just create it first if you do not know what it is).

Meet Mari(a)

Hello! I’m Mari(a), I come from Spain and I am going to try to sum up my last eight months volunteering at the Special School nr 11 and living in Kraków.IMG_20160602_123621811

I always say that the best adventures are those you don’t plan in advance. And in this case, it happened to be true. An autumn night, bored at home, I was checking facebook and by chance I saw a post from an EVS vacancy that looked nice. “I’ll ask, why not?” I thought. Some weeks after I was in Kraków. Oops.

If I have to describe my experience shortly, I would say it has been a tornado of feelings. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I felt down, I felt euphoric. Sometimes all of them at the same time -yes, that is possible-. When you don’t have your best friends to speak with next to you -as Spaniards would do, meet for a coffee or a beer and have the longest conversation ever-, you have to figure it out somehow, so in my case I started to write a diary.

IMG_20160623_102019488So I remember how I woke up on the first of December, I had my breakfast with instant coffee (the worst creation ever, but this is Poland), and I spent my first day in the school. I would like to say it was great, but actually it was a huge disaster: people didn’t know English, everything was so unusual, I understood nothing. “Just look how we work today” they said. So many thoughts came to my mind: How am I going to communicate here? With signs? Google translator?! Where am I? What will become of me? Will I even survive two weeks? And I came back home as tired as if I went to three triathlons in a row. But it seems that I have finally survived.

RIMG1947Even though at the beginning I had mixed feelings towards the school, at the end it happened to be a very thoughtful and nice experience. I have learnt a lot from teachers, assistants, students, and volunteers. A lot about myself and my limits, my skills, my strengths and my weaknesses. A lot about Poland. A bit about life.

We have been doing many different activities in the school during all these months. We even created our own performance and we had our premiere! And we have eaten so many cakes. I have tried every single cake in Kraków, I am sure! But it is not all about the activities we did but about the environment I was in, in my opinion. I could have been a volunteer in a similar place in my hometown, but I am sure it wouldn’t have been the same.

I can’t forget to say that I was so lucky to share my days in the school with three other great volunteers who made my days better, who I shared so many coffees with and who hugged me when I needed a big bear hug (and when I didn’t need it as well) :))

But there is a volunteer life out of the school. And it is just great. I remember how I met all volunteers during the volunteer’s day and after all, so many things started to happen so fast. Impossible to explain in here. Suddenly plans popped up, so maybe you were at home and after ten minutes you were heading to some event, some dinner, some costume party, some whatever. Always something.

Because the volunteer life is an other lifestyle that teaches us really useful skills (EVS teaches me something!): money management (you have to survive with 700 zl per month and you struggle to save money for partying and traveling), cooking (you taste and cook food from so many parts of the world), creativity (you create everything you need from recycled materials, buying furniture is so overrated!), and languages, of course. Plus extra-skills you learn from other volunteers, like decoupage, how to peel a pineapple -yes, that happened-, how to paint Easter eggs and even archery!

12717855_951302788251845_4171789093270771738_nAnd then, it happens that you are so busy doing so many things and, at all once, you realize those eight months that seemed such a long time are over. And suddenly every day you have to bid farewell to a different volunteer. And that is the only bad part of the EVS. But I am sure some of these friendships will last forever -we have already said we will meet when one of the volunteers will get married ;)-. Because without the volunteers, my EVS wouldn’t have been the same!

As a final thing, remember that to nie już koniec but it has just started :)!

Thanks for reading 🙂