Even in Corona times we will not stop meeting new people, may it be via Zoom, Skype, or any other video messenger. So did we with Dawid Wojtyczka from the Equality House, or DomEQ, in Krakow.


The EQ-House is a place that was founded in 2016 to create a place that is offering a safe space for the LGTBQ+ community here in Krakow. LGBTQ+ is the shortening of the words Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, and every other sexual orientation which there is e.g. Pansexuality. 


By meeting Dawid we had the chance to talk with someone who is working in the DomEQ (Equality house) so, he could give us some insides into what the organization is doing and what they are standing for.


When one lived in Poland for a certain time, one will realize that the LGTBQ+ community is still facing a lot of problems in this country. Either through the given laws by the government which makes it impossible to marry for two partners of the same sex or to change your gender in a less complicated and expensive way. Also, due to society’s high percentage of Christians homosexuality is something which is rather frowned upon than accepted or even tolerated. 

Exactly for these reasons exists DomEQ. With a team of Lawyers, Psychologists and other supportive professionals DomEQ supports people who are threatened by either social exclusion, live in fear of physical violence due to their sexual orientation, or need somebody who is representing them in court if it comes to matters like the acknowledgment of one’s gender. 


But besides that, DomEQ gives way more than just simple support. It is a place in which members of the mentioned minority groups can meet without fearing to be frowned upon or being called names. A place in which heterosexual, transsexual as homosexual people stay together to celebrate what makes us stay strong, even though it might not be after the typical model of Adam and Eve, but Adam and Steve.


Dawid showed us, that trough these easy things such as watching movies together, doing a BBQ, or any other thing, as small as it may seem to us, we are contributing to society by laying an accepting and powerful fundament on which one can build on.


Of course, we did not only talk about the situation in Poland, as a matter of facts it would be quite foolish to pass the opportunity to have a look at the other countries, where each of us volunteers originates from, to see how their societies and government is dealing with mentioned people. We found out that Belgium and Spain (after the Netherlands in 2000) were the first countries that passed a law which makes it possible for everybody to marry, not looking at their genders but at two humans who want to be together. 


Sadly, we also had to learn, that there are worse places to be part of the LGTBQ+ community such as Turkey and Egypt. 


All in all,  it was a fairly interesting and uplifting meeting. To see that Poland is moving forwards towards an open and accepting society gives one joy and makes one look forward to the day on which same-sex marriages and partnerships are accepted, tolerated, and part of our everyday life.


Rethinking Refugees- A meeting with Sindhuja

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal, and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.[1]

It is important for your understanding to define the term “refugee” first so that you know on what base we were talking about this topic together with one of the founders of “Rethinking refugees”, Sindhuja Sankaran.

Rethinking Refugees is a nonprofit organization in Poland, especially active in Krakow, which set its goal to educate Polish citizens if it comes to the ongoing refugee crisis. Furthermore, they want to raise awareness of a multicultural society by organizing events and meetings between a group of minorities and the Polish society to break down prejudices and prevent e.g. the rise of Islamophobia.


One this one evening Sindhuja took some of her precious time to meet with us the volunteers in which she showed us what is happening currently and how we can try to change something in our society at home and in Krakow.


The first situation she decided to have a closer look at, was the terrible situation in the refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos. Sindhuja spent some time there and as a professor for Psychology she gave us not only insides on the hygienical situation in these camps, in which more than 100 humans have to share only one bathroom, but also on how this inflicts the mental health of the people who are living there.

Though the situation of the refugees in the Mediterranean Sea is still commonly known, maybe not as detailed as Sindhuja presented it to us, but also not something we were not aware of. If you investigate further, leaving the European continent we were quite surprised though what else was happening.

Not a lot of people seem to know about the situation the people of the Rohingyas found themselves in.


At first statelessness mind sound like nothing too bad, maybe you gain some freedom, traveling around without having any government which you are staying representative for. Though the thought of traveling is already bursting into nonexistence. Without citizenship of a certain state you are screwed. How do you want to travel without any passports, ID, or something similar to this? Furthermore, all government institutions are only working for citizens. You are nothing in front of the state, meaning you will not get any help from them because you are not existing.

The Government of Myanmar is using this current technique to control, suppress, exploit, and finally persecute the people of the Rohingyas, without facing any intervention due to their lack of citizenship.

Because of this situation Myanmar is one of the countries, besides Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Somalia, which rates highest amongst the countries which’s people are fleeing their country.

Even though there are so many terrible things right now happening abroad, Sindhuja showed us ways of how to help these people and the ones who are facing racism or other phobias in our society. May it be meetings in which you just gather to talk and to eat with each other, informational events to spread awareness, workshops, and theater classes in which the local community interacts with mentioned humans.

That is another thing at least I learned during this meeting. We are not only speaking of “some refugees” we are speaking of humans like you, me my neighbor, or my grandma. We are just lucky enough to currently be in a much better situation, but you never know when the leave will turn.

We should not forget that we are not talking about numbers or diseased people, but of individuals who have dreams and visions. People seeking a better, or sometimes just a life.

It will take some time, but if we are staying persistent and keep on going, we are contributing a huge part to the creation of an equal, accepting, and tolerating society.



The Founder of the Special Schools

Let me tell you of a woman whose compassion leat to the foundation of the well-known special schools here in Krakow. A woman not afraid to take matters in her own hands, not fearing any obstacles. A woman who never intended to do something like this and ended up in a different profession than she ever thought.

Quite a while ago Maria Orkisz had a talk with a concerned mother, dealing with her strong physically and mentally impaired daughter. It was about the struggles of this mother, how everyday life was affected, and the feeling of maybe not giving her daughter the best she could have if it comes to her education.

This was the moment when Mrs. Orkisz realized, that besides specific communities, which take care of these children, teenagers, and adults, there has not been any other institution that provides in a professional way suiting education for these humans.

Driven by the feeling of having to help, to do something, Mrs. Orkisz decided together with the help of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in her heart, that if there is no such place yet, she will make one. Laying the first brick which builds the Special Schools we know today.

We as the volunteers had the honor to meet Mrs. Orkisz via Zoom. It is more than just an “I have heard of her meeting” because the special schools are the biggest hosting organization that IB Polska is cooperating with.

Meanwhile Mrs. Orkisz is a dainty woman in higher age nevertheless she is on fire if it comes to her life which she dedicated to the less represented part of modern society.

The meeting with her made us aware of what an amazing person is sitting in front of us, by her being a perfect example of how one can bring change to the world by persistency, passion, and fierceness.

We could see that Mrs. Orkisz spoke directly from her heart by the sheer amount of things she had to tell, and don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to listen to her, but everybody’s listening-endurance is gone somewhen, making it quite hard to focus after a crazy long time. It makes one feel glad to see older people, who are in such an advanced age, full of energy, and still ready to fight for what they created.

In the end we even met her husband Mr. Orkisz who shares his life with his wife.

Thank you again Mrs. Orkisz for being such an inspiration if it comes to commitment, faithfulness, and love in person. It is people like you who are carrying society and especially you who gave hundreds of students a beautiful experience even though their impairments. Leaving us with the urge and motivation to do something in our society, in our countries.



News form Anna – ESC Volunteer in Spain

Hi! My name is Anna and I am currently working as an European Volunteer in Malaga, Spain.

My adventure with European Solidarity Corps programme began when I decided to apply for a project.  After my successful selection process I came to Malaga in October 2019 and started my work at IES La Rosaleda, which is a secondary, vocational school. I work with another volunteer from France. Our main tasks include: coordinationg ‘’speaking sessions’’ in English and French, so the teachers and students can improve their language skills. Secondly, we are in charge of posting content on the blog and documenting our activities. We organize presentations and events promoting european mobility and Erasmus+, we visit classes and give mini presentations concerning holidays and different events. Moreover we helped during the Erasmus+ selection process, as we run the English interviews and prepared info-packs for the students.

A big part of our project is hosting visits from the international partners of our school. We enjoy having guests at our institute, showing them our projects and mobilities. It is a good oportunity to make new connections and create partnerships.

The whole ESC experience is super international, as I live and work with people from various countries. I am fortunate to live close to the city centre with 4 great flatmates. We share a lot of our cultures and experiences. When it comes to the coordination of the project I am also satisfied, I haven’d had any major problems since arriving to Spain. I can count on the constant support of my coordinators at schools, who are very helping and understanding.

Living in Spain, especially Andalucia, is super different than living in Poland. The mentality and style of life of the Spanish people is something I had to get used to. The language barier was a problem at the beginning (I left Poland with the A2 level) but I quickly improved. Malaga offers many great opportunities to improve the language, like exchanges and language meetings. As ESC volunteers we also have an access to the OLS language platform.

Malaga is a very beautiful, historical city itself, but it is also a great place to live to explore the whole Andalucia. I am so thankful that so far I could have visited many nearby cities and villages. It has been a great opportunity to know the Spanish culture more.

So far I am enjoying my experience as much as I can!

Poland- Now we are the old hares 4

After mentioned event it was time to relax and what else could be more relaxing than having a picnic at a lake enjoying the probably last warm rays of the late autumn sun before rain, wind and coldness take over the rule.  We decided to meet all together in a park which is more or less next to Krakow. From our flat your able to just walk there, thus we did so or at least we tried. Emelyn, Kübra and I started our journey to Zakrzowek, a former quarry and now that it is filled with water one of the most visited places by locals and tourists. The reason for that is not only its perfect location but also the fact, that police won’t control that much over there who is drinking in public and who not, resulting in a gray zone where people gather and have a cold one together.

As we kept on walking, guided by our best friend if it comes to going some place you don’t know , called google maps, we must’ve taken a wrong turn because we ended up in front of a gate which prevented us from going any further. Behind this metallic construction which lacked paint while rust started to creep up it’s irony bars, we discovered a boulevard like street leading to a small settlement with houses which all looked the same. Not doubting that google maps was showing us the right direction, and let me tell you that if it would have said that we had to swim through the Baltic sea and conquer the south and north pole to arrive at the lake, we would have done it. Sometimes those advices make you some kind of blind, maybe out of ignorance or over trust, but also because if you go wrong and somebody is screaming that you should get off his yard or he will fetch his riffle you can say:

“ Ohh I am so, so sorry, I thought that would be the way, I guess Google did not update its maps for some time. Have a nice day.”

Leading to the neighbor complaining about the youth nowadays and that you should open your eyes next time. The fault though is now not directly yours anymore but Googles because they gave you a wrong direction.

As we stood there, wondering what to do, Emelyn decided to let actions speak rather than thoughts by grabbing the bars with her hands, her feet were clenched between the free spaces and she started to  climb up the gate, because it was the right direction. As she proceeded to reach the top of the gate, observed by me and Kübra, thinking if we should return and take another path, we noticed that a car was coming towards our direction. We could not see which kind of or out of which reason it might come this way, because the part of the street we were standing at was surrounded by forest and right after a turn. While warning Emelyn and her panicking jump down from the gate, while she lost her package of cigarettes on the other side, we prepared to confront whoever was coming, practicing our lines, that we are tourists and don’t know where to go blaming google for having us led there. When the car turned around the corner, we were shocked. The blue stripes on the side, in it the word “Policja”, which decorated this sprinter made us swallow hard. It was our friend and helper the police. Of course all by itself we are lucky enough that we don’t have to be afraid of the police but it is still really shocking if you see this kind of transporter, in it for sure at least 6 officers, coming at you, in a small piece of forest. As they stopped the windows turned down and we started to see the face of one of the officers, asking us what we are doing here.

Thank the Lord that we practiced our lines, telling in the most innocent way possible who we were, and where we are from leading to the excuse of being tourists. The officer was really nice though telling us that we turned one turn to soon and gave us some directions. Until now they had no evidence that we even tried to get over that gate thus trespass this small settlement but then Emelyn thought that it would be a good idea to ask them, if they could get her cigarettes which lay on the other side of the gate. I mean the police is supposed to help you isn’t it? Then they might as well fetch your cigarettes.

Surprisingly the officer got out of his car, unfolding his baton to compensate the shortness of his arms. It was not enough though so he started to shout the name Hightower, like the one in the movie Police Academy (pretty sure that I was the only one who understood this reference of the three of us) and the door of the police car opened, revealing four other uniformed officers. One of them responded to the call, unbuckled and a 2-meter guy stood in front of us, making me understand why he was called Hightower by his colleagues. I don’t know what the other cop did with the package of cigarettes, if he pushed it further away by accident or because he was so worried about Emelyns health that he did it on purpose, but neither this huge guy, packed with muscles and wrapped up in his uniform making him an easy target for thoughts which lead to a slippery slope of them into situations which seemed quite inappropriate for the moment.

As he reached for the cigarette, unable to get them too, they decided to give up, announcing that it is better for Emelyns lungs anyway and they got back into the car as we commenced walking back to the street.

In the end we managed to reach the lake and meet the other ones. Everybody prepared something special for this feast, may it have been tuna sandwiches, lasagna or the offer of a beer. It was amazing and looking at the pictures now makes me wish back the time when we were at this lake. Though Theo was missing due to the visit of his family. The attentive spectator will notice that in this picture you can see a new face which belongs to Seyma (Sheyma) from Turkey. She arrived shortly after the senior’s eve and lives together with Rocio and Anthi.

Seyma is a really kind girl with a passion for Germany including its culture but also its language which is something you don’t get a lot as a German. Spanish, French or Italian are the languages everybody thinks of as most beautiful due to their sound and so on but if it comes to German which sounds like starting an engine or the rattling of  marbles which are getting crushed in the washing machine, people usually step away and complain about its harsh sounds. That’s why I felt and still feel flattered, that somebody likes my language that much.

Though enough of the language talk and let’s capture some of our Guapas and Guapos in Emelyns camera, resulting in an extraordinary and funny photo shooting which its result is shown in the bottom of this post.


leftto right/ backround till foreground
Seyma, Fabian Sebastian(me) Dylan
Pia Rocio Anthi Maria Kübra
Gvantsa is somehow missing
Pia, Fabian and me
Maria and Rocio
Seyma and Gvantsa

Poland- Now we are the old hares 3

The following week we were invited to take part in a project of a special kind. Our organization Internationaler Bund Polska, yes, it is a German name due to it’s founding back in Germany. Of course, not the Polish office was founded in Germany, but the idea and the concept of the Internationaler Bund institution originates in Germany. Anyway.

Mentioned Project was about dancing with seniors. If you think about it the first time maybe adjectives like “Cute, slow or lame” might come to your mind, but believe me what awaited us there was everything but boring.  This group of elders rented a place in Tychy a city near to Krakow but besides a factory for beer nothing seems really worth a visit there and the city by itself is also not what I’d call a beauty.

To get there we had to take a bus and let me tell that I absolutely love to go by bus together with friends, even though people might look at us for being to loud. I don’t know what it is, though being together in a vehicle for more than 1hour always lights up a spark, making me feel tremendously happy, thus laughing a lot. And as we all know laughter are highly contagious.

As we arrived in Tychy, we nearly missed our bus because Emelyn and me were late making us have a sprint to the bus stop at 10:00 am just to get it in the last second, we entered a kind of meeting hall equipped with tables, chairs and tons of food. The middle was free of any obstacles and on the stage, they put up a DJ desk ready to play the latest hits of 1955 we joked.

Our party “evening” in senior slang, or afternoon in Youngsters slang started with presentations of several dances of the seniors which were preparing themselves since a year just to show of the dance moves they learned in that time, making our mouths drop open of astonishment and envy.

Those grannies and grandpas were awake, for sure alive and had the energy even we were missing. There was no such word as “break”, especially not for us boys. As soon as you sat down one of the grannies came and invited you to dance with her, because such handsome young men must have all the energy of the world. I guess nobody can say, that they danced together with a group of maybe 30 seniors or more Macarena or the YMCA perfomance, neither to go down with them while listening Reggeaton.

Within these grannies were two which defined the word weird anew. Weird thereby is to be put into the context of amazingly entertaining and joyful but also graving for the male volunteers. It is for sure another experience which I didn’t expect to make during this year to sway in the arms of an 65 year old lady, which is looking at me with her moon sized eyes telling me stuff in Polish I don’t understand, while I am starting to sweat due to the heater which was turned up to “Finnish sauna” and made the room feel like you’d dance through the Arabic Desert with Aladdin’s Jasmin on your side after she divorced from her Husband 20 years ago.

Of course, the Dj also played some of the songs we suggested and putting up Becky G’s Mayores in which she is singing about her affection against the older ones of our society you realize that you are living her dream she is singing about. What a life and time we are living in.

After we left that party somewhat around 9 you could see the exhaustion of each of us, creeping back into the bus, trying to reach home as fast as possible to shower and sleep. This time on the way back we were laughing less, therefore the darkness and ever repeating monotony of orange streetlights and racing cars made you lose every kind of time feeling and started a long conversation between Fabian and me. Those are the moments when you are in a car which should never stop. When you wish to just go forever on that ride, so you don’t have to get out of this cozy seat.

But we arrived back in Krakow, safe and sound, knowing more about each of us afterwards.

What an amazing event- and they grannies were already asking for the next one.


dancing YMCA with the seniors

Poland- Now we are the old hares 2

Eventually we managed to get to Rocio’s and Anthi’s flat all together, loaded with pizza and other snacks, because sometimes you got to enjoy life to the fullest. It is always amazing, when we meet all together, at least for me and not having that one week made me realize that I really missed those moments. Emelyn will, in faraway future, say the same to me, that is that every time we are together, she is looking around into all the faces, seeing them laughing and arguing which makes her and me too unbelievably happy.

That was exactly how it felt like being there in that moment, sharing food and laughter not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow but just living into the moment by appreciating everybody’s attendance. You know that there is the moment when of course everyone has to return to his flat but until then you try to take in as much as possible of that moment, trying to burn it into your memory.

Though to say that we did not think of tomorrow at all would be a lie because on the next way was Marias birthday. I have never been a big fan of my own birthday, always trying to get somewhere else, avoiding the awkwardness of people celebrating you. If it comes to other birthdays though, I am all on fire, trying to let them know how much they mean to me and showing them how happy you are that they were born at this date.

However, Maria did not want that we make out of her birthday such a big deal which is fine and to be respected. Though at least something had to happen, so we decided to reserve some places in one of our favorite bars if it comes to birthdays. Domowka is in the Jewish quarter Kazimierz in Krakow and because of the sheer endless amount of table games they offer for free we always enjoy spending time there, talking, playing and drinking.

Furthermore, we decided to prepare a little something for her, meaning a small book containing some personal words of each of us as well as enough space to create some more memories and put them in there later on. We did not have enough time, or we did not manage to make more time because I don’t know why, so we had to buy a small cake from Awiteks.

Awiteks is a chain bakery and fairly common in Krakow. Pia is a big lover of Awiteks so-called bread while Theo and me, as the Germans we are, can’t even consider this more than a white fluff lacking any texture or low and behold fiber. We might not be proud of much but if it comes to bread, we are not taking anybody’s shit because we know we have the best one in the world.

Anyway, we decided to get a small cake there but as everybody knows we have a quite picky eater here and asking somebody what kind of cake he wants for his kind-of-surprise party would degrade the kind-of-surprise to a no-surprise, duh.

As we met in advance to prepare her book and the cake, sticking candles into it and lighting it up, I met another volunteer who I did not know before, called Pamela.

Pamela arrived in the beginning of the week, making the time Pia and I spend away into 7 days in which we welcomed all in all 4 new volunteers!

When Maria entered the café, we all sat there, screaming our best wishes to Maria accompanied by hugs, kisses and tons of joy, climaxing in the moment she had to put out the candles.

When the like childhood smelling, grey smoke arose in the room we handed here over the book and ordered the first round of beers, teas and much more. Though I guess we must’ve been quite loud, not that anybody said anything, but we always are and especially if we celebrate something like a birthday thus accompanied by loud laughter and screams expressing how happy we are.

Speaking of birthdays and parties lets focus on an inevitable part of these. Dancing.

Gvantsa next to Fabian, in front of Theo (black glasses) and Pamela in the backround,  left of Dylan also wearing glasses
Maria and me at here birthday

Poland- Now we are the old hares

Gvantsa found us immediately after we left Galeria Krakowska, a place that awakens panic in me. Always overcrowded, thousands of stores and in the end, you just hang out there because you are bored, watching people passing by while thinking of their stories.

It is quite an amusing thing to do and come to think of it, isn’t it fascinating to see a city less as a place far away from nature and older days, but a gathering of stories of thousands or millions of people. Somehow you are connected to a lot of them, playing just an unimportant role in the background, but for this time you shared the same story with a stranger. Maybe the woman who is running after the bus just had a fairly important job interview and now that she missed her ride is desperately thinking about what to do to be there In time, so she can pay the rent and someday travel to Jamaica because she watched a documentation once and now it is her dream to lay at one of its golden beaches while enjoying a cool drink. But life hasn’t been nice to her and she is struggling to even keep her head over water, living from day to day thinking of how to spend her money wisely.

Of course, we will never know, though it has something magical, to see a city as a place were dreams come together and you never know if you are the reason somebody is achieving it or not. Maybe you are the one person which has a blue jacket and this guy says to himself, that if the next person I see wears a blue jacket than I’ll tell her that I love her and by doing so, he sees you wearing your brightest blue, giving him the signal, that destiny seems to favor his plans. You will never know because he won’t tell you but maybe you are the reason somebody else married, later on, had kids or just had an amazing relationship for a while.

Speaking of colors. It is really hard to not see Gvantsa in a crowd as a result of her neon orange jacket. This girl is somewhat of a model, with her beautiful brown eyes and curls, falling down to her shoulders. Usually wearing her slightly bright chestnut-colored coat and her black glasses, if itis not raining. I have to say though that I kind of pitied her a little bit, due to my mood which was explosive and loud, going from one topic to the other in the speed of Eminem’s “Rap god”, out of joy and relief to see the other ones, after one whole week.

While we all saw each other again, falling into their arms and hugs, not planning on ever leaving them, I realized how precious those people already became to me and I had no idea how even more important they would become to me over the next months. While embracing everybody’s attendance, though we thought nobody was there in the beginning, a new message popped up in the group chat, creatively named “The Shitty Ones”. I don’t know why or what drove us to choose such a name, only that it was not going to be changed for a long time.

The message was from Asser, the volunteer from Egypt, who arrived 1 day before and was now waiting for us at Poczta Glowna. We decided to pick him up and then go to the flat of Anthi and Rocio, because they have a living room, and believe it or not but to have a living room is a real rarity in volunteer flats, making the kitchen the new living room normally.

There we were supposed to meet with Kübra too because she would come directly from my flat to this one. Turning around the corner at Poczta Glowna we saw an Arabic guy standing next to the tram stop. His deep black and madly curled hair were held in form by some spray I guessed, while his dark eyes found ours.

Asser is a fun guy who always has a story to tell dealing with him or his country. Also, his English is perfect so that there were absolutely no communication problems from his side to ours. As a matter of fact, nobody of us speaks Arab, and the ones who think that Turkish and Arabic have anything to do with each other, let me tell you that they absolutely don’t.

They might have influenced each other through lending words but the grammatical structure as the use of sounds is way, way, way off from Arabic.



Welcome to Poland- Welcome to On-Arrival 2

Being sick is always a pain in the ass, even more when you are participating in a project which is supposed to be quite entertaining and active, so there is only one solution for this problem. Mama did not raise a weakling, we got to go through it and give everything we got.

The first real group activity was a tour through Warsaw by a former ESC volunteer and his dog. Saying dog might let some hearts beat faster, but this precious little fur ball was not in the mood of being touched and frankly I totally understand it. Imagine you do this tour every freaking week with your owner and then all anew a group of wild volunteers appears, and 20 pairs of hands try to pet you. The tour was fairly interesting, and we learned a lot about the city and how destroyed it was, while constantly getting told that Warsaw is nicer than Krakow. It Is definitely not and every person living in Warsaw knows that.

While the week kept on, we did some workshops about the Polish language, being a volunteer and what to do when you start feeling homesick. On day though was more special. Botan, a Kurdish volunteer, had the anniversary of birth, so called birthday. For that Pia, Yolanda and I went to a bakery in the morning, buying a muffin while desperately looking for candles to stick on top. After a while we found them, entering the room cheering and screaming, wishing all the best to our fellow, resulting in a joyful cheer when the smoke of the blown out candle filled the air of them room, recalling memoires of own birthdays and cozy Christmas afternoons.

One memory which I will probably never get out of my head for it is way to amusing is when Guilia, Pia, Iliana, Yolanda, Maria and I stood at the subway stop in Warsaw, putting the phone into video mode and tried to sing the Chorus of the song “Miłość Miłość w Zakopanem” which goes: “Miłość Miłość w Zakopanem”- duh- followed by: “Do dodo Doo”.

Six people means each of us one word. After trying several times to get this right we finally managed, ignoring the weird looks some of the other people gave us.

Concerning Warsaw’s Subway system let me just say that it is amazingly cute, like coming back from a trip to a certain big US-American city this summer I was used to endless stops and even though you start in the city center it takes you at least 45 minutes to  the end of the train stops. Warsaw is a little bit different and way smaller, so the most lines had somewhat 10 stops and it took us 15 minutes to go from one stop to the nearly end.

In our last night we actually prepared ourselves to go out and have some fun drinking and partying but nope we did not. While seeing the pictures of the other ones in Krakow having fun with the new volunteers who arrived in our absence, we were in Warsaw, sick and tired sitting in the cold in front of a certain establishment our beloved boy visited as their whole On-Arrival group.

This does not mean that we didn’t have fun in this night, actually we had a lot, playing the game 21 and failing so hard every time that each one of us has been constantly drinking. We finished our On-Arrival with the feeling of having spent a nice week somewhere else but the knowledge in our heads that it might have been more exciting to stay with our amazing group of friends in Warsaw. At least we made some new friends in Wroclaw and Lodz which came in handy later on.

On our way back from Warsaw I realized that I run out of tissues, making it really hard to breathe if you are having a cold, resulting in the usage of my big towel to clean my nose. Disgusting I know but if you are going to be in the freaking bus for 5 hours you ain’t going to soak in the already way to dry and warm air of the bus trough your mouth.

I don’t know why Pia had this negative conviction, that none of our friends would be waiting for us at the bus stop, making me say all the time that they are going to be there to pick us up for sure. When we entered Krakow, I was already desperately looking for the other ones. First with a smile and the convinced knowledge that they will be there. After searching for a while this smile turned upside down and the ones so powerful and strongly build thoughts began to break down as nobody was there waiting for us. But we didn’t have time to be mad, not yet. Due to the closure of the toilet in the bus Pia and I had to follow natures strong call first before anything else could be discussed or one.

While I was standing in line a message popped up in my phone. Theo was asking where we are because they were here, making my heart jump out of joy and happiness. They were there, just late. As we left the toilet area and met Theo and the others at the entrance of Galeria Krakowska, hugging each of them for a long time because hugs are healthy and one of the most beautiful ways of expressing love towards other people, we met a girl we did not know before. Gvantsa from Georgia and Kübra from Turkey, Emelyn’s and my new flat mate.

Kübra ( we will later reveal when this picture has been taken)
Gvantsa and Emelyn in Baccarat

Welcome to Poland- Welcome to On-Arrival

The first introduction of the volunteers took place in a big circle in which each person said its name and where he or she was from. Names like Pia, Sebastian or Francesco are quite easy to understand, and I guess also to memorize but if it comes to names like “Garcien” it gets way harder! First of all, French people tend to speak less clear I’d say than in other languages, mumbling away endings and conjugations in their language. When Garcien said his name the general reaction was a raising of the eyebrows and an impulsive movement of the upper body into his direction, reaching with your hand to your ear to make you understand better the said name and accompanied by the question if he could please repeat.

But actually, not even that was really helping and after the third try we just stopped asking and kept on with the next names. The ones who instantly stuck into my head, due to the character I connect with them were Martha, a livable and expressive Spanish girl. Guilia from Italy as well as her friends Iliana and Maria from Cyprus and Greece and last but not least Moritz.

Moritz is actually a really nice person if he speaks in German but as soon as he is speaking English it seems like somebody pressed a button into “mean mode”, making him complain all the time, coming with a certain flair of arrogance because one is not doing what the others are doing because that is embarrassing or to childish or whatever. All by itself this kind of behavior is not always bad, but it is not that we were behaving like 12 years old, more like we just wanted to have some fun and a good time. You will reach this goal by changing your mindset into not taking yourself too important and letting yourself go, we had that once in the beginning but anyway.

As we went to dinner, my attention fell onto somebody else. Her name turned out to be Yolanda, and don’t judge me. Just because everybody said their names 30 minutes ago, does not mean that I instantly remember all of them, especially when you have to focus on names from tons of different nations! Anyway, as we stood in line to get our well-deserved food, she was asking me where I was from, followed by my answer that I’m from Germany. The next answer to that was, quite frank as Germans are, that she is also a fellow citizen of my state and yeah, she could hear that I’m from Germany. It is not, that an accent would be something bad, it is in fact enriching and if you start talking with somebody you instantly have a topic to talk about. BUT I would not say, that telling somebody that he has an accent in the first two seconds of conversation is a really helpful and sympathizing thing. Though what did I care she was really nice, and I did not think too much about it. What is amazing is her talent for drawing, like guys that girl is amazing at what she is doing.

The best thing about this training is the evening when you are allowed to do whatever you want, as long as you are more or less fit enough on the next day to participate in the program. Next to Agrikola is a small bar where you can buy cheap beer and food like burgers and other fast food. This place eventually became our second home during this week, playing games, drinking together and having interesting talks about all kind of stuff which might be to intense to discuss right now. One of the most eager participants in those conversations has been Amanda. Beautiful hair and an ever-happy expression on her face made her a much-liked part of the group. I have to admit that we had actually some really neat moments in that place, protected from the rain and the cold fall weather which made it fairly unpleasant to be outside for to long.

Ans guess what happens, when you are a group of more than 20 people, already 2 arrive being sick and the weather around you is more or less supporting your body to stay healthy? Yes you get sick. Usually I’m that kind of person who never gets sick. I am running around in sweater 90 percent of the year, am pretty much resistant to cold and I think it comes from that toughness against cold weather and the fact that my parents probably fed us with dirt when me and my five brothers were children, that I can say that my immune system is pretty well developed and strong. But during and after this training? I think everybody had a cold or even more with on exclusion. My precious Pia. Intolerant against Fructose, Lactose and I guess food in general but a cold?! Not for her….


Welcome to Poland- dawn of On-Arrival 5

The next morning Pia and I met in front of Galeria Krakowska. Met in that case means, that I was waiting for her. I don’t know if it is a cultural thing or just me, but if there is an important appointment or meeting, I’m always at least 10 minutes before the agreed meeting time there. It is just to be safe, to get to know the surrounding maybe or to prepare for the next steps. In that way it is already guaranteed that you’re not late and that you won’t have to stress out because the bus is stuck in traffic because you took the Bus 40 min before anyway, in case you will be stuck. Organized through and through, prepared for every situation.

As Pia arrived I saw her the first time wearing glasses and they look amazing but you can tell her that a hundred times (in fact I did), you will always get the answer: “Oh no, I don’t like them”. The next steps were quite easy, I mean everybody should be able to handle the check in for Flixbus. During the trip the sky went from an inviting and calming blue, sometimes interrupted by a flock of cloud which run like sheep over the sky, into a threatening grey. The once so purely white sheep turned now into a grey tsunami which rolled over us, bringing wind and rain within.

Nevertheless, we thought, that the rain won’t get us down and that we just have to keep up a positive attitude. If there is no sun which shines, be the sun and shine. Even though destiny, fate r karma, call it whatever you want, decided to prove if we were worthy of being two suns shining in the midst of rain. To get to Agrikola, the place in which we were about to stay for the next week, we had to go by bus. It is not far away maybe three or four stops, but due to our moral standards and the fear of being caught we decided to get the tickets first before entering the bus. So, we stood in the rain, in front of the automat and waited until the person in front of us finished buying its ticket.

You know those people, who think of the ice cream flavor they want the moment they stand in front of the cashier. In that moment something must go wrong in some people’s heads, maybe an enzyme is released which prevents them from making a quick decision. This leads to a ten minutes showdown of how they don’t know what to take, maybe the same as always or a new flavor, cup or cone, one or two scoops. Yeah, we had a person like that in front of us, but just for the ticket automat. When he finally managed to get his stuff done, we approached the machine, just to be penalized by karma for making jokes about this man and comparing him to that kind of ice-cream-persons. It felt like 15 minutes in which we tried to manage to get our tickets but nope not for us. Standing in the rain, trying to work with this advice gave us the cramps. I mean we laughed a lot, but you are not drying through laughing. In the end we bought the tickets in a small kiosk which sold besides tobacco and small snacks also passes for the buses and trams. Now we started our training. Wet, tired and cold but happy and at least together.

Agrikola is a big sports complex with a soccer field, enclosed by a track cycle for athletes. The building next to it offers besides locker rooms also a whole hostel like part in which we were accommodated. Due to the experiences of the other volunteers which went there before us Pia and I expected to be in shared rooms, with their own shower and toilet.  As we got the keys to our rooms, because we don’t do unisex, we got some instructions how to go there. Being me I only listened to Pia’s description to her room, in case she would forget, leading to the situation that I went to her room and as soon as she entered I tried to figure out where I’d be supposed to go, walking like a lost child in the aisle of Target looking for a grown up to help me. In the end I went downstairs again and asked the receptionist, though I thought I would get a snack like you do when you’re lost at mentioned Target to stop you’re crying, but no apparently with 19 years one is too old for that.

Speaking of snacks. In the On-Arrival training one of the main things you are going to do is to eat. 08:00 am breakfast, 12:00 am lunch, the there are 2 breaks during the afternoon in which you are provided with coffee, fruits and usually some biscuits or cakes and at 06:00 pm there is supper. You might dare to thing that there could be another snack around 08:00pm but well NO. For me as a German it is fine to eat supper at 06:00, though it should be mentioned that we eat supper usually between 07:00 pm and 08:00pm, sometimes 06:30pm. The Spanish and French had more problems with that. Resulting out of their culture they are used to eat supper around way later times, which makes it possible to start sometimes around 10:00pm and finish at 00:00 (an extreme example as I think but yeah go and ask Fabian, he’ll confirm that).

After a quick lunch, in which we already got to know some new people and volunteers from Kielce, Rzeszow and Wroclaw the introduction began. We met in the project room and final got to know our two coordinators which would lead the workshops and accompany the whole training for this Week. Kasia and Wojtek. Wojtek is a tall man with long blond hair, he likes to listen to metal music and sandals are for sure something he enjoys. Saying that without any judgement but just to give you a picture. When he wanted the attention of everybody he always screamed: “Uwaga Uwaga” meaning, attention attention (duh). Kasia was a little bit quiet but definitely not shy. With brown hair which reached until the top of her shoulders.

Welcome in Warsaw.


Pia and me in the Flixbus

Welcome to Poland- The dawn of On-Arrival 3

I don’t know why the thought of somebody peeing next to a car disgusts me that much for it is nothing more different than peeing next to a tree. But anyway, we won’t lose time by talking about who pees how and in which way.

For their return of our three beloved group members we had the idea of baking some muffins and then afterwards going to their flat and hang out together, which worked out perfectly and seeing them again made clear that the whole group was completed again, resulting in joy and the long wanted moments to spite out mentioned tasteless gum.

But this deceiving happiness kept only on for 1 day, due to the fact that Emelyn and Maria were the ones which would go next to their On-Arrival training, leaving me this time alone in my flat, without anyone else. Most of the former volunteers might say, that this is one of the best things to happen but let me tell you that I am totally disapproving in that one under the condition that you like your flatmate. I enjoy every minute of being with Emelyn in our flat and knowing that she is not going to be with me for the whole next week made me nauseous. It was week celebrating kind of the return of your old gum, this time it sticks on your shoe and every step you take feels weird so you somehow have to change your pair of shoes or get rid of the old gum for good.

While Emelyn and Guapa, her new name in my contacts, were in Warsaw we had one last shooting with Ania, making us forget about the disgusting gum on our shoes and making clear, that the first volunteer was about to leave. The whole shooting was a blast and I guess Fabian went again out of his comfort zone. It was during this session that we realized that in one of Krakow’s parks, next to the Wawel-castle in fact, stands a statue of a dog, honoring its loyalty to his owner in Hachiko styled manner. It was the fairly sad story, nevertheless beautiful, of a dog waiting for its never returning owner, ending in the death of the dog (Yeah, I know we all wish our pets would live forever but we gotta face the truth here).

Surprisingly Ania is not only an expert if it comes to photography but also if it comes to making people laugh, meaning she is a laugh yoga trainer. Before everybody freaks out and asks now what laugh yoga is supposed to be, let me teach you something: Use google we are not here to explain you everything like come on.

But we are nice people, so I’ll explain it briefly. It is yoga for laughing, meaning you do exercise which are supposed to make you laugh #fun. In that hour of yoga, we celebrated the farewell of Ania.

Now it might sound way more like we were laughing and happy that she had to leave but no, totally wrong way of looking at it. We celebrated the time we had together which was filled of laughter and joy instead of this one moment of goodbye and sadness which was about to happen. Therefore, laugh yoga was the first part, going for a beer the second one.

Before I came to Poland I liked UNO, not the organization (it’s nice too though)  but the simple card game with the colors and numbers, malicious “take-so-and-so-much-cards” and direction changers, turning the whole game inside out showing who was attentive during the game and who not. But let me tell you that you can differentiate countries only buy the way they play UNO, their way of frying eggs or their diner time, making  it nearly impossible to find a all-satisfying way to play the game together, acquiring amazingly well developed skills in diplomacy and patience just to be crushed by the beer Ania spilled accidently over all of the cards when we were 2 rounds into it. I mean that was not bad and we did not care much but it was the first moment when I realized that this game is too exhausting and that people can be really weird if it comes to playing after new rules.

The rest of the night was really fun, topped but the waffles we got from the restaurant as a gift of the house. It is not difficult to make one happy by giving him just food, especially if he’s an always-hungry volunteer, living from its poor cooking skills, consisting out of noodles, eggs, bread and bought tomato sauce. Only one person would argue with that and that is Guapa, the pickiest eater in whole freaking Spain, Poland and maybe even Europe. But you know what? She was in Warsaw, so it is not important.  At that day we also met a new volunteer from another organization here in Krakow. Martha. Martha from Germany, first appearance made in Theos, Fabians and Dylans On-Arrival.

the dog and us
it is supposed to be the eagle of polands code of arms flag ^^