Very Special Mothers Day in cafe BUSZ

 

We organized all together an event for mothers of disabled children. It was held in a picturesque place that it was about to open for customers – cafe BUSZ. We were first in that new place.

We were around 10 volunteers and our goal was to interact with children while their mothers had cosmetic tratments.

I was satisfied with taking part in such activities cause my experience in working with disabled children is small. I think the work with vulnerable people requires attention, empathy, inner energy but I was doubting whether I could have such features.

I started to observe how another volunteer Zeynep was communicating with one guy, using gestures. Later i had found  – it was a Makaton. I asked Zeynep to teach me simple signs and repeated after her. So I had learnt main gestures from Zeynep and used them with Maciek, a sunny boy around 10 years old.

We were playing quiet long trying to knock down pins. How much fun we had!

 

During the whole day I didn’t have any doubts or fears of playing with children. I know that actions are repetetive and very simple but your trophy is smiles on their faces.

Due to this little but decent experience I can say that I dont have any fears or prejudice about people with special needs.

I’m totally sure that they are more than we know about them. They can teach us patience, tolerance and love.

text by: Anna from Equal Volunteering project

 

Rethinking Islam impressions by Maram

My first impression about the event is that it was done professionally. The panel was really interesting and the ideas that were discussed were really important.

On the first day there was a movie by the Lebanese director Nadine Labkeh, I didn’t attend however I heard it was a really good movie. On the second day there was a panel presenting different topics which was really interesting and I think it was planned really well.

It was also very interesting for me that there were people from different backgrounds and different ages coming to attend to know more, there were also volunteers from different countries helping for the event which in my opinion the event wasn’t going to be successful without them.

Afterwards on the same day there was the traditional iftar, which is the name for the meal that Muslims eat after fasting for approximately 15 to 20 hours depending on where you live where they fast of food but also of drinks even water, pretty tough right!!! But they believe in the benefits of it spiritually and health benefits too, in general this happens during Ramadan so fasting for everyday for a whole months and because the event was done in Ramadan time, they celebrated this with lots of people and cherishing the beautiful tradition, even the food was so delicious and there was a lot of Arabic variety which made a really nice atmosphere, the place was also a great time for networking and meeting open minded people.

On the following day there were different workshops that you could choose from and at the end there was a panel discussion.

I believe that this conference was really a success and I think it will be an opening to a whole new thinking about the other.

Text by Maram, volunteer from Egypt

Among young journalists

Last week  I had a pleasure to participate in classes provided by Staromiejskie Centrum Kultury Młodzieży in Cracow. I was invited  as a guest to journalism classes where children learn the basics of journalism and media knowledge. I heard that for the past weeks they have learned what an interview is and they were preparing to conduct and give an interview. This day was a big day for them, because they had to do their first interviews. I was a bit surprised that the guest that was invited to this special day – was me!

At the beginning, the teacher introduced me to the young students. They looked a bit nervous, but for sure not more than me. Then I was asked to tell a bit about the life of a foreigner in Krakow and about my volunteer work. Some children could not resist asking questions in this moment, they were so interested. After that students got into pairs and came to me pair by pair to ask me interview questions that they have already prepared during last classes. Some of them were so interesting. They asked me if it is difficult for me to learn polish and work with kids with disabilities that can not speak spanish or english, they wanted to know what I like the most in Poland and what is my favorite polish dish. Some kids asked what are the differences in the teaching system in Spain and Poland and where children are more polite in schools – in Poland or in Spain.

At the end everyone thanked me for the interview and it was really nice. Even some students wanted to ask additional questions apart from the interview, because they were curious about life in Spain. I saw all children very interested and focused on the work of a journalist.

They did a good job and I hope that in the future they will become great journalists!

Author: Javier Aldana

Meeting between generations in DPS Helclów

Today EVS volunteers Maria from Greece, Josie from Germany, Aurore from France, Maram from Egypt and Zeynep from Turkey visited a place where old people with disabilities live (Dom Pomocy Społecznej im. Helclów w Krakowie). At this interesting meeting the volunteers did some activities to present their countries.

Team of Volunteers ready to action!

Specifically, Aurore from France and Maria from Greece showed to people traditional dances from their countries and put traditional music.  Also Maria and Zeynep make a presentation. At these presentations they showed photos of their countries and they talk about customs and habits typical for Greece and Turkey. People seemed to enjoy it and I think it was a nice opportunity for them to meet people from other countries and listen about other cultures.

Also music was in the event! Josie sang a songs and played music and some people were given an instrument and they have to play music too. The people enjoyed it and they seemed very happy.

Last but not least volunteers cooked a traditional meal of their countries and people who were living at the center tried it. Specifically, the volunteers prepared chalva, Turkish cookies and tiramisu. In general, it was a nice meeting. Both volunteers and people who were living there enjoyed  it.

For old people it was a nice chance to meet people from other countries and spend their day in a creative way and for volunteers it was a nice chance to meet people at a different age and see how works the organization who hosts old people with different kind of problems.

The more you know about different things from you the better you become!

Volunteer got smal hand-made gifts from Seniors

Author: Maria Vezyrea from Greece

Tortilla Festival @ School number 11

On Wednesday 20th of February, a couple of volunteers were invited to School number 11 for the Tortilla festival. It was a joyful event with lots of tortilla, fun and music…

In total, three classes participated in the Tortilla festival. The ultimate goal was to make the tastiest tortilla. In order to do so, the class was divided in small groups of two to four people who then prepared a tortilla at home and presented it at the festival. The jury, consisting of volunteers, then tasted all tortillas and graded them. We must admit that we were surprised by the creativity of the participants! While some tried to respect the traditional recipe, others added some surprising elements like vegetables, meat or even decoration. They were all really delicious and ranking them was quite hard! In the end, we were able to decide on a top three, but not after some debating and discussion between the volunteers.

After eating the tortilla’s, it was time for some musical break. Joao took out his guitar and started playing and singing La Bamba, twice. The first time, only Joao and a few volunteers sang, but the second time all volunteers, students and teachers sang loudly. It’s a fun song to sing and I’m sure some people were singing it all day long as it’s a real earworm!

Below, you can find some impressions from Julieta and Javi, two Spanish volunteers:

Julieta: It was a funny idea that makes children engaged to be part of the event and learn about Spanish culture through it’s cuisine, there was also music by one Spanish volunteer which helped creating the atmosphere. They all did a very good job with their tortillas and sometimes it was difficult to decide.
We end up full of tortilla but we had a great time!

Javi: Yesterday We were in the omelet festival which was very very fun. The children were excited to present their tortillas. First we learnt the history about “Tortilla de patatas” and the children explained how they cooked the tortillas and with what ingredients. Then we went to try those spectacular tortillas of all flavors and shapes. It was a great day in which the volunteers enjoyed a lot with teachers and students.

Text and pictures by Pauline, volunteer from Belgium.

 

 

Visit in Jewish Community Center

On the 7th February, about fifteen volunteers came for a lecture in the Jewish Community Center organised between the center and Internationaler Bund Polska. They got the chance to meet rabbi Avi Baumol who told them about the history of the Jewish community and also about his own story.

Firstly, he talked about himself and his own belonging to jewish community. Born from polish parents in the USA, he came to Poland to teach judaism to people. In fact, many people, jewish or not, want to know about this culture, this believe, according to him. Nowadays, and after everything that happened in the jewish community in the past, there are still many jewish people in the world. Even though they are not so visible, and some of them, according to the rabbi, don’t tell their children they are jewish, we assist to a « reborn » of the belief and the proudness to be jewish.

Then, came the time where volunteers could ask questions and exchange thoughts with the rabbi. Here, a good exchange between them happened. Between his own past and the jewish community’s one, volunteers learned more about the jewish community. Their past in history, also during war, their believes, how they practice being a jew.

And it was more interesting in the fact that, coming from differents countries, differents religions, the curiosity and interest is still the same. This afternoon was about sharing knowledge and stories about jewish community to those people, the volunteers, who now will be able to share it in return.

 

Text by Sarah, volunteer from France.

Nativity Scenes

On 4th of February, volunteers went to the Historical Museum of Kraków to see the exhibition Nativity scene (exhibition still visitable until the 28th of February). Here, they learned about this Krakowian tradition, where Krakowians created a competition to build nativity scene, called szopka. Then, people were invited to choose the most beautiful one. In that exhibition, you can admire some of them. Ones with lights inside, some with little caracters in motion. During this afternoon, volunteers could learn more about Krakowian past and traditions.

Pictures and text by Sarah, volunteer from France.

 

It was a real adventure!

Hey! I’m Anna, a volunteer from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. I work in the kindergarden but i want to tell you not about that right now. I’m an internet-addicted and once it helped me)) I saw in our evs group Ib polska about english camp in Ostrzeszow (still can’t pronounce it). So I was the first who left a message.

An organisator, English teacher Kasia, contacted with me and told what it would be, she told me about our activities and conditions. Kasia added that they provided everything: food, tickets, sleeping bags. The last word called an image of living in a tent outside. Also she told to take “outfit that you can use it in the forest”.

I was travelling with previous volunteers. In Ostrzeszow teachers collected us. Teachers organised family polish dinner. It was incredible and so tasty!

Next day we had a presentation about our country at school. I had 4-5 lessons. I started my presentation with questions about Russia. I was totally surprised cause even hildren 8 years old knew my president. Also a lot of children said that  it is very cold in Russia. They didn’t expect to see palms which i showed them.

After lessons we went to school where we spent the remaining days. We slept at the gym. Not outside. For sure, everybody was laughing at me cause I took a yoga-rug, a lot of warm clothes didn’t image how it is possible to sleep outside in the end of October.

We were separated in 4 bands/ first evening we knew each other better. Next day we had a task like orienteering. We were running in a forest and searching for points that we had on a map. After we fried sausages on the fire. In the evening we sang, danced, laughed a lot.

Next day we moved to Poznan where participated in a workshop. We made polish croissants, explored city and gave a lot of hugs each other. Im looking forward for our next meeting this spring.

 

My EVS encounter with ABLED

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.

Italian Day! (Cuteness day)

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.

 

 

Tortillas de patatas Day!

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!

DSC_0221post

 

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 😉

article by

Peppe

Living Library in Giebułtów

giebultow_10

 

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.

 

 

 

article by

Katharina Becker

photography by

Natasza Romaniuk