Now that you know a bit more about us, let me tell you about our first three weeks in Poland, which were quite eventful!
Marie and I both arrived on the 1st of September and after a few days of settling in, meeting everyone, discovering Pułtusk (and some delicious Polish food!), it was already time to head to Warsaw for a two-day training. On the 5th of September, we took the bus to Warsaw and went to Helenów, a rehabilitation, education and welfare center for disabled children and youth. There, we met the four volunteers of this center, who were going to follow the training with us: Jaqueline from Germany, Simona from Italy (both EVS volunteers staying one year like us), Luciana from Brazil and Yi-Chieh from Taiwan (staying two/three months on an ICYE programme). Remember their name, you will hear them again! Indeed, even though they volunteer in Warsaw, they will also come to Pułtusk to help us with various events and we will do the same in Warsaw.
When we arrived, we were welcomed by the director who explained to us what they are doing at Helenów, before going for a Polish lunch: soup, kluski śląskie and meat with gravy. Yummy! We then started our training, led by Sylwia, our coordinator from FIYE in Pułtusk and Grzegorz, the coordinator of SPW in Warsaw.
After introducing ourselves and explaining our projects to one another, we learned more about each other through ice breakers and games and it really helped to make everyone comfortable.
We then learned more about our respective programmes, European Voluntary Service and International Cultural Youth Exchange, about Poland and its geography, and we shared our fears and expectations through collages and theater acts. I especially liked the last one and found it very helpful to exchange on those topics, as it made us realise that we sometimes shared the same fears or expectations and we therefore could talk about it and about how to deal with them.
We finished the day with an international picnic: Polish smoked sausages, cheese and sweets, Chinese tea, French croissants and pains au chocolat, Brazilian sweets, etc. Smacznego!
On the following day, we visited the center and discovered more about its various activities (classes, hippotheraphy, aquatic therapy, etc.), before learning more about volunteering and the competences that you can acquire by doing so: adaptability, new skills related to our work, independence, resourcefulness, new language, technology and internet skills, civic skills, etc. We also learned about the roles of each protagonist in volunteering. Finally, we had a brainstorming about activities to prepare for an upcoming event in which we were going to have a stand: Europe changes Warsaw. I will tell you all about it in the next article.
And to finish the day, we had a bonfire with all the volunteers, the coordinators and the mentors. We grilled sausages, bread and meat on the fire and had vegetables and of course a cake to go with it. It was a great way to conclude two intensive days of training, rich of learning, friends and food!
Stay tuned for the summary of our day promoting international volunteering in the beautiful park of Pole Mokotowskie, in Warsaw!