Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poland Sponsors Invest in Learning

Through the generosity of Global Volunteers' Poland classroom sponsors, the students of a small village elementary school are enjoying field trips, new teaching materials, school supplies and books to learn English this school year. We're so grateful for sponsors' commitment to ensure that the students have resources for their intellectual and social development, and that their most important growth years are successful!

The first semester has just ended, and the students are beginning the second one. The eight students of Grade 1 will continue to learn the letters of the alphabet and numbers up to 100 (in English, of course!). They will also practice their penmanship, reading, adding and subtracting. The 19 second grade students are "branching out" with their English lessons; telling time, days of the week, months of the year and seasons. Grade 3 has 12 students, and they're finishing the first level of their education while becoming very involved in school life -- with dance, music and special celebrations. The five girls and five boys in Grade 4 are developing nature interests, and greatly enjoy field trips to the forest. Meanwhile, the 17 fifth grade students had the highest average grade in the first semester in the entire Cisie school! They're really looking forward to working with the next team of Global Volunteers! They are planning to prepare a play for their colleagues from Grades 1-3 soon.

The students of Grade 6 are preoccupied with preparations for the National Examination Board competence exam which will enable them to graduate and move on to secondary school. They understand how important English is for their futures, and truly value the times they have to learn from Global Volunteers' native speakers.

We have exciting upcoming plans for the classrooms as well: In March, we'll begin to set up a brand new English language lab with audio equipment, desks, chairs, white board, bookcases and bookshelves purchased with sponsors' funds.

All of this is made possible with assistance from Global Volunteers, and the students and teachers are very grateful. We look forward to many more volunteers to work with us in 2010 and beyond. Please learn more about our programs here:

Dorota Wierzbicka,
Poland Country Manager

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why I Volunteer.....

A few years back I was going through a rough period in my life. I had just finalized a divorce, albeit an amicable one, it is still somethingthat impacts a person emotionally and physically. I was at a crossroadsin my life as I had moved half way across the country away from my family when I got married. I had a great job and had good friends, but was far away from where I grew up and where my family was. I usually take a big trip every year and often it involved either hiking some big mountain in some far away country or working with organizations like Earthwatch, where you join on scientific expeditions.

After my divorce I decided that I wanted to do something different and needed a chance to be alone with my thoughts to help me figure out what direction I should go in next. I was looking into other Earthwatch expeditionswhen I came across the Global Volunteers website and knew that this was what I needed. In particular, the trip to Costa Rica looked amazing...great scenery, helping to build a community center and a place far away to take my mind off of things.

The Costa Rica trip was a very memorable one in that in helping others, I learned an awful lot about myself and what is most important to me. The local "ticos" where not only warm, friendly and open-hearted, but they also have an extremely strong sense of family.
Everybody contributed to the well being of the family and community without complaining and without reserve. The members of the local communitywould wake up, perform their farm responsibilities, join us for 6-8 hours in painting/constructing a community center and then head back home for more farming. They cooked us fantastic meals and made us feel like we were part of their family. When the trip was coming to a close, we all traded gifts and many tears. It made me realize that family and community is something that should be at the top of everyone's list and clearly the right answer for me was to move back home. Moving back home was the right answer as I am closer with my family than I have ever been, am now re-married and am happier and more satisfied with my life than ever before.

It is said the experience is not aboutwhat happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you. My experiences in Costa Rica helped me to cleanse my soul and inspire me in a way that I didn't expect, but am ever so grateful. Global Volunteers is a special organization and will always be special to me. Since Costa Rica, I have also volunteered in Australia with an Aborgine group and look forward to more trips in the future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thank you so much for all the work that you do!

What an exciting adventure my husband, Tim, and I had as members of the 92nd Global Volunteers team to Lima, Peru! We worked at the orphanage - PPA (Puericultorio Perez Aranibar)! It is a life-changing experience to leave the comfort of one's home in SE Minnesota and travel to another continent and experience a life so different from our own. Yet, even with all the cultural differences and the poverty, the same wonderful human spirit shines through.

Working with a Global Volunteers' team is so unique because the volunteers come from around the States (and with this team - even Canada!) to volunteer together to wage peace. We first get to know one another through a series of questions about team work and goal setting so that when we begin our work, we know one another better.

The work in Lima at PPA is so worthwhile because at the orphanage the children need the love that the Global Volunteers bring and the staff appreciates the help. Each team builds on what the former teams have done and sets the stage for the next team coming in.
Gratefully, Bonnie Rietz, Peru volunteer

Sunday, February 14, 2010

(Marek Blaszczyk is Global Volunteers' long-standing host representative in Poland. See his interview on You Tube here)

We are proud to have had more than 2500 volunteers teach English in our country and each one leaves a small part of their heart in Poland!

Global Volunteers has worked in Poland since 1990. Next year we will celebrate our 20th anniversary in a close, fruitful partnership. Bud Philbrook came in 1989 and went to the Polish Parliament where he met members from our region – the Siedlce District. "Bring your volunteers to Siedlce," our representatives said and help in our small villages. In 1991 I found out about Global Volunteers and invited the volunteers to stay at Reymontowka.

The idea of teaching of conversational English came from Poland. 1989 was the time of changes in our country (we changed from communism to democracy) and Bud Philbrook asked a Parliament member how Global Volunteers could help. They said we have enough hands to work but we need to speak English. We wish to work more closely with the western European countries and the US. We need to speak English.

Bud Philbrook said we can’t promise to send teachers but we can send people who speak English. Since that time the program has grown and been very successful in Poland and in other countries. I know people who now are about 40 who started learning English about 20 years ago through Global Volunteers. The best students got good jobs and they are changing Poland.

Poland is a good country, a part of the European Union and NATO. Global Volunteers stay in a small farming village of about 100 people and now nearly everyone speaks English. The cleaning lady at Reymontowka who learned English now runs a business in London. That’s how the volunteers have changed the people. Many young people – we are an open country now – can work in other countries. The children who learn English get good jobs and they can travel around the world. I think last year the first person from Poland volunteered in India.

When volunteers first came to Poland they taught business and technology to unemployed people. Global Volunteers never told us that you have to do something this way or that way. This is very important to us. That’s why next year we will discuss how we can do more with Global Volunteers. We will introduce the organization to others through the 20th anniversary of Global Volunteers in Poland.

Global Volunteers is very famous around the Siedlce District (in eastern Poland) but Global Volunteers is not known all around Poland. We will use this chance to tell about it at a big conference in October and we will invite people from other countries to attend. In time, Polish people can and will volunteer in all parts of the world.

Remember, we still need volunteers in the Siedlce District because everybody doesn’t yet speak English. But, we are proud to have had more than 2500 volunteers teach English in our country and each one leaves a small part of their heart in Poland.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Why I Volunteer.....

“Challenge is not a curse or a punishment, but an opportunity to shine. If life were easy all the time, we would not deepen in love, compassion, and wisdom, or learn how to sink a pipeline into the well of true strength within us. Often we do not know how powerful we are until we are faced with a challenge that draws forth our greatness.” -Alan Cohen

People ask why I spend my annual vacation time volunteering abroad. The secret truth is that in helping people to build better lives through self-reliance, whether it’s teaching English/math/computer technology, loving orphans, or constructing playgrounds, one develops equally in return through the local community’s demonstration of genuine kindness, enduring strength, and motivated spirit despite their lack of materialistic conveniences and pleasures. Global Volunteers summarizes the benefit well in their Philosophy of Service: “By serving others, we honor the human dignity of those we serve while acknowledging our own dignity in the process.” I am forever grateful for the opportunities made available to me as a result of Global Volunteers’ twenty-five years of genuine and impactful service throughout the world.

Thank you, Dank u, Merci, Gracias, شكرت أنت, Grazie, Danke, Σας ευχαριστούμε