The on-arrival training started for us (Dylan, Fabian and Theo) on a Monday morning. We stayed the whole week in Agrykola hostel in Warsaw, which is the on-arrival hostel for all the volunteers from Poland. In this week 22 volunteers from all over Poland came together for 6 days to take part in the on-arrival training. It is to say that their countries of origin are distributed all over Europe, from Spain, France, Germany over Ukraine, Georgia and more.
The usual day started around 8:30 with the breakfast, after that the workshops were held. These workshops were led by two trainers, which created these workshops according to our interests and needs, thus every training has its own focus depending on the volunteers. In our case we had to write down all our questions concerning the next month and out of these questions the trainers modelled the topics and tasks of this week. Most of the time we dealt with the topics in small groups and in a non-formal way. For example, to find out more about the polish culture we had to do interviews with locals and afterwards present them to the group. The way of presentation was supposed to be a creative one, so we had some films, quizzes and even card tricks as a way of presenting a topic.
Every group told their own stories due to the questions which were made clear in the beginning by the participants of the groups, according to their field of interest and were supposed to make the polish culture understandable for everybody. It is quite challenging to work well in a group with people you know for 1 week, thus the coordinators had to strengthen the team building process by playing some ice breakers with us volunteers. For example, passing the hostel corridor by only touching a piece of paper, under the condition that there are only 29 pieces for the hole group… These games helped us first of all to get to know each other and of course improved the way we worked together. Which was also important for choosing the perfect bar/club for everyone in the evening.
Due to the fact, that the sessions were ending at 18:00 the whole evening is up to the volunteers and we had the pleasure to discover all the different places and amazing bars and clubs of Warsaw. Especially the region around Nowy Swiat is very recommendable.
But there were also two activities after the dinner organised by the trainers, at Tuesday it was a guided tour through the city centre and the other one is a surprise which is connected with old polish culture. We don’t want to spoil here any information though, so just wait for it and try it by your own.
But back to the normal training-day at Agrykola, which was departed in the main sessions from 9:30-13:00 and 15:00-18:00, including 2 breaks and a lot of nice food. Our topics were very different, from polish culture over polish language, feelings connected with a cultural shock, to problems which you must face during the ESC, our rights and obligations and much more.
Every topic was brought to us in a different way, for example we learned more about our rights and obligations through a quiz and the answers from the trainers. Some groups showed us the different problems and their solutions while being abroad as a theatre. Furthermore, we learned more about polish language through a self-made memory game. By the story of a superhero who had to fight against the evil powers of the Cultural Shock we gathered ideas how to deal with this phenomenon. And especially these non-formal ways of education helped us a lot to remember the tips and tricks for good. So, this was the first source where we got a lot of interesting information for our future.
Another source were the other volunteers, which had experienced other situations, been longer in Poland or are simply older than us and could give us a bunch of information for our stay here. In addition, it was a great meeting because all the volunteers were out of whole Poland and if you found some friends there you are welcome in many very interesting cities all over Poland and the world.
In the end we can say, that the on-arrival training was a very important and interesting experience and even better than we expected it to be. Particularly to meet all the new people, getting a big bunch of information about a lot of topics from the trainers and the volunteers, improving our polish skills a little bit, getting to know Warszawa(how its originally called in Poland) and learning more about ourselves, ending in heading back to Krakow with a totally new mindset.
So, for everyone who is going to face the on-arrival training in the future, just enjoy the week and try to get as much as possible out of it.
Text by Sebastian, a volunteer from Germany, participant of the project “reACTogether” but also the support of the project “Mobility for Solidarity”
The project “reACTogether” is organised within the framework of the European Solidarity Corps and financed by European Commission.