czwartek, 21 grudnia 2017

Check the Czech Christmas

Wesołych Świąt!

Christmas time is knocking on our doors and I am going back to see my family for the holidays. But before I leave I would like to present to you some Czech traditions and what Christmas looks like in my family 😊

Soo, where to start?

The main holiday for Czech people is the 24th December, we call it Štědrý den.

It should be a day of fasting (for some it means not eating at all, for some just avoiding meat) and there is a saying that if you manage not to eat, you will see the Golden pig (Zlaté prasátko). And Kofola (the Czech version of Coca cola but a bit spiced and much much better!) made a joke out of this saying in a commercial, it has been more than ten years and they have been playing it during Christmas time ever since, it has become probably the most popular commercial ever!


If you don't want to starve until dinner, you can cook a simple dish called Kuba, made from groats and mushrooms.

But be sure to keep enough space for the most important meal, the dinner - Štědrovečerní večeře. 

The protagonist here is carp fish. There are more traditions connected with carp than only the dinner so lets starts from the begining. A week or so before Chrismas the streets get flooded with barrels of fish where you buy a living carp or have it killed and unboned on the spot. Some people who buy alive, later put the fish into a bathtub, which is an old habit kept from the times when people did't have fridges.

Carp meat is cut into horse shoe shapes, deep fried in the triple layer crust (flour, egg, bread crums)
and served with potato salad as the main dish. The soup is also made from carp and you can use pretty much everything that is left from the fish so typicaly you make broth from the head and little cut offs together with root vegetables and later you add also the roe and milt 🐟😉

Me and my mom don't like carp so we prepare a different fish so there is only one traditional horseshoe carp on the table
And it goes even more "zero waste" because you don't even trow away the scales, you wash them and give to all family members to keep them in their wallets because they are supposed to bring you money! 💰 (You can also put them under your plate during the dinner)

Then comes the time to open presents. Normally "Ježíšek" (baby Jesus) brings them before the dinner, when the children are in another room and rings the bell, they run to the tree trying to see Ježíšek, but he is always gone. In my family we first eat and then all sit around the tree, eat some Christmas cookies and open the presents one by one throughout the whole evening.

Some people go to the midnight mass, but my family is not religious and we are lazy to move after all the food 😆 Instead we attend a midday singing in the town next to us where my aunt, uncle and sometimes also my cousins sing. It is a nice gathering where you meet many friends and acquaintances, wish them "Veselé Vánoce!" and drink some grzane wino.

There also many traditions for predicting future done during Christmas, some more known and popular. For example you can cut apples in half and if you see a star, everything is ok but if you see a cross inside, then you will die the next year. Not very positive. Or single girls kick shoes behind them and if the shoe is pointing in the direction of the door, she will get married and leave the house, if it is away from the door she will stay one more. Something similar works also with little boats made of nut shells with candles inside, if your boat separates from the others you will probably travel somewhere, if it drowns, bad things happen.

Some people celebrate only the 24th, some people also the 25th, some (like my family) even the 26th!

On the 25th we meet with my aunt, uncle and cousins for lunch either in their house or ours (depending on where is my grandma staying, because we take turns who will have her on the 24th each year😊), we drink some better champagne, eat stuffed turkey and open another round of presents.

On the 26th we all go to my grandmother's little flat and we eat goose with dumplings and sour cabbage. I love this meal so much!!! 😍 After that we go together to light candles at my grandfather's and a few more graves. Also we have a little tradition to light as many candle as possible at the INRI cross (the one that are already there). And that's it!

Ok, now I need to catch my bus home because I don't want to miss all of this!

I wish you all "Wszystkiego najlepszego", enjoy the holidays and see you in 2018!!!


czwartek, 7 grudnia 2017

What have we been up to?

Hello hello hello,

we are back! Last week has been very busy. We're been preparing for two events which have succesfully passed as you can see...

On Sunday we went to Pomiechowek to take part in the ArtBAZAR, organized by the local culture center - Pompa Pomiechowek, where an EVS volunteer from Spain, Susanna, works.

Susi as a raindeer

We had our FIYE stand there to spread awarness about volunteering and we also prepared some Christmas related intercultural games. You could learn how to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in many languages, find out who brings presents in different countries and see how the traditional Christmas meals look.

Who would bring those boys gifts in Sweden, Italy or Greece, hmm?

We also got on the stage to sing Jingle bells in Spanish, Italian, German and Czech. You can watch the video here.
Stefan from Costa Rica, Jenny from Germany, Christina from Czech Republic,
Ilaria from Italy and Susanna from Spain singing

On Tuesday was an important day! Do you know why? It was the international volunteer's day!

We went to Zespół Szkół im. B. Prusa w Pułtusku to present volunteering to the students. They decorated Christmas cookies, we packed them and Sylwia later brought them to institutions which help the community in Pultusk!

After decorating the students participated in workshops about volunteering with Sylwia, Grzegorz and Sveta.
Presenting the results

At the end I was supposed to have a presentation about my previous volunteering experiences but it didn't happen after all, there was no more time left. Hopefully some other time ;)

This event even attracted the TV that was there filming almost the whole day. They also made an interview with Johanna about her volunteering here. You can see the final video here.

The star of the day
Seniors from Senior Wigor also appear in the reportage, you can watch them getting their cookies on Tuesday, the other institutions had to wait until Wednesday but now everyone already have their cookies 😊🍪
Cookies in the day-care center

For more pictures, you can check out our Facebook.


niedziela, 19 listopada 2017

Meet the new voluteers

Dzień dobry,

We have a new volunteering season, Pułtusk is welcoming another four EVS volunteers and we would like to present ourselves to you...


Moin, my name is Liza, I am 18 years old and I come from Hamburg, Germany. I arrived to Pułtusk in the beginning of September and will stay until end of July. For my EVS I am working in a kindergarten with children from 5-6 years. So far, living and working here in Poland is a really nice experience. I don't really know what I want to do after this EVS but I am sure this year will help me to figure it out. Personally, I like to read, travel, cook and eat, clean and to spend  time with my friends here in Poland.


Hallo! My name is Johanna and I am from Austria. I live here in Pułtusk for two months while I work at the senior center and the day-care center. I'm 19 years old, so I just finished school last summer. I don't know what I want to do in the future, so hopefully this experience will help me a little bit. My hobbies are reading, riding horses, playing the guitar and watching TV. I also like to eat and cook.


Cześć! I am Gizem from Turkey and I am 22 years old. I arrived to Pułtusk on October 5th, it's been almost 2 months and I will stay until end of August next year. I am working at the kindergarten with kids aged 5-6 years. Before I came here I graduated at university at the department of psychology. I chose a project with children because I love to work with them and I love them! Also I want to work with them in the future so it is an amazing opportunity for me. I like to travel, meet different cultures and learn new languages so I am so happy to be here 😊


Ahoj! My name is Christina, I am 21 years old, half Czech, half Greek. I lived most of my life in Prague, recently I started travelling on my own and I love it! 💚
I arrived in Pułtusk last week and I will stay until November next year.I work in the culture center and FIYE office. I will be also in charge of this blog for the following year.
I am interested in democratic education, community living, self-sufficiency, sustainability, environmental issues. I make my own cosmetics and cleaning products 😊 I am trying to adopt handicraft skills like sewing and crocheting. Also learning to play easy songs on the guitar, 'cause I love music!🎵

We are looking forward to all the experiences that this voluntary service will bring us!

Do widzenia!

środa, 23 sierpnia 2017

My experience as a workcamp leader

Dzień dobry everyone!

I'm Tuğçe. At the beginning of July (from 2nd to 15th), I was leading the workcamp Przedwiosnie 01, in a centre for disabled people in Warsaw. I had the privilege of working with 6 awesome international volunteers from Ukraine, Spain, Mexico and Czech Republic.
For our first day of workcamp, we explored the old town of Warsaw and we were joined by the local volunteers, Iga and Kuba. We had an awesome first day. 

For the next two weeks, we had many trips to many places such as the beautiful Łazienki Królewskie Park, Praga and other beautiful places of Warsaw. 

And of course to one of the most beautiful cities of Poland, Gdańsk! 

Beside our trips, we also had an awesome time in our workcamp with the lovely patients and workers of the centre. The patients were so eager to work with us and the workers were so nice to us. Everyday from 9 to 12.30 and 14.00 to 15.30, we had various types of work. From 9 to 12.30 everyday, we had a day for each country and cooked its traditional dishes. I cooked a turkish salad called kısır with a yoghurt drink 'ayran' and a turkish dessert called revani, while others cooked other delicious dishes. Since making a dessert is fun, I wanted to do it with patients. And they were so eager to help me too. 

In addition to cooking, we helped them with their workshops and daily activities from 9 to 12.30. After 14.00 we had our own time and prepared activities for the patients of the centre. We did various kinds of games, songs, dances and mini quizzes about cultures. 

On top of having fun and learning something in the workcamp, we made great friendships. Each of us tried to teach the others something from our own countries. We had great relationships with the patients and some of the workers. I can say I was definetely lucky to lead this workcamp. 😊

poniedziałek, 21 sierpnia 2017

Project "Intergenerational garden" - Part II

Dzień dobry everyone,

Two weeks ago was already the end of our “Intergenerational Garden” project (FIO - Mazowsze Lokalnie) and we celebrated its success with a sunny picnic in the garden of Senior Wigor. Here is a quick summary of the last few weeks of this project!

Workshop number 3 (Tuesday the 11 of July)

During this workshop, we finished assembling our pallet benches and tables and created flower pots out of apple boxes, to later plant strawberries, lavender, roses and so on. For this workshop, we had a nice group of seniors, adults and youth. My parents, who were in Pułtusk to visit me, even helped us with the flower pots!

We then had an informal gardening meeting with the seniors to plant lavender, roses, strawberries, etc and we were very happy with the result! 😊

Workshop number 4 (Tuesday the 25th of July) 
During our fourth workshop and a couple of informal meetings afterwards, we created five bird houses and five bird water feeders with plastic bottles, as well as golden coasters and jar lanterns .

Celebratory picnic (Tuesday the 8th of August)

In order to celebrate our project, we decided to organize a picnic with all the participants. Of course, we used all of our “creations”: pallet benches and tables, coasters, pillows, lanterns and we decorated the garden with balloons, pictures and bird houses. For the occasion, we gathered the seniors and volunteers who helped with the project. We were also very happy to welcome the deputy mayor of Pułtusk, the director of the social care center, a journalist from Pultuska Gazeta Powiatowa and of course the director of Senior Wigor.

After lovely thank-you speeches and presents, I presented the results of the project and gave more information to the seniors about how they should use their new compost and bird houses in the future. We then played games such as crocket, darts, tin-throwing game, board games, etc. and finished the day with a barbecue and dances. 

The project in numbers:

2 tables made with pallets

6 benches made with pallets (3 new and 3 restored)

5 bird houses (3 small, 2 big)

5 bird water feeders

6 flower pots made with apple boxes (lavender, strawberries, roses, etc)

Pillows for the garden benches

Decorations: golden coasters made with magazines, lanterns made with jars

4 official workshops and several informal meetings

More than 45 people involved

16 seniors

17 young volunteers and 10 workers and other participants


In addition to the creation of DIY garden furniture and decorations, the “Intergenerational Garden” project also enabled the participants of all ages to exchange and to learn a variety of new skills and knowledge, which they can reuse and share with others.

This project was also an important part of my EVS, as one objective of my own voluntary service was to develop exchanges between seniors and youth. It was a lot of hard work and I discovered the multitude of tasks, skills and details a project of this scale requires. Among many other things, I learned how to apply for a grant, to defend a project again a jury, to recruit volunteers, to organize workshops, to think in details about tools and budget and of course, how to build furniture. It demanded a lot of organization and energy and I am very, very thankful to my coordinator Sylwia for guiding me through the running of the project for the past three months. And of course, a huge thank you to everyone from FIYE, from Senior Wigor and to all the volunteers who helped in this project! Bardzo dziękujęmy for making this fun adventure possible!

Na razie, 

środa, 19 lipca 2017

Tuğçe's presentation on Turkey at Senior Wigor

Dzień Dobry! Hello!

It's Tuğçe. My project is coming to an end. And I've been working in the kindergarten but it's now closed for the summer holidays. I wanted to meet the lovely seniors of Pułtusk and asked to go to Senior Wigor with Julia for one day.

They were even more lovely than I've imagined. They welcomed me very warmly and made me feel very comfortable from the beginning. I am happy that I've decided to go there. 

First, I started by making Turkish tea for them. I could tell they were very excited, which made me very happy. They were asking me questions and wanted to smell the tea. It was very nice to see that they are very open to any culture. 

After we drank our tea, I started my presentation about Turkey. Again, they were very excited! Even with my bad Polish, they tried to communicate with me and asked questions and during my presentation, I talked about Turkey in general and its traditions and culture. I had a quiz. I also wanted to show the real Turkish cuisine and we did a mix and match game with cards. Their reactions to the Turkish cuisine was amazing for me. For some dishes, they were very surprised but I think they enjoyed this activity. 

After the presentation, I introduced them to Turkish music/dance and they did the same with the awesome Polish songs. I really had a fun day and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did! 😊

środa, 5 lipca 2017

Project "Intergenerational garden" - Part I

Cześć everyone,

At the moment, one of the big projects of FIYE and our partner Senior Wigor is the “Intergenerational Garden” project,
financed by FIO - Mazowsze Lokalnie. You may have seen pictures on Facebook or Instagram but what exactly is it about?

The origin of the project
It all started with the Mazowsze Lokalnie programme, which offers grants every year for projects in the region of Mazowsze. Our partner Senior Wigor (where I volunteer) being so active, we thought it would be a great idea to run a project with and for them. After discussions and observations, we decided to gather the seniors and the young adults of Pułtusk in a common project: building DIY garden furniture out of pallets. Thus, there were several unused pallets at Senior Wigor and a lack of garden chairs and tables for the seniors during summer, hence the objective of our project. Furthermore, our association is often in need of a place to organize events for the young people of Pułtusk, such as language cafes or cultural events and this new sitting area could be used for those meetings, as well as for intergenerational meetings in the future. This is indeed a project that aims at creating a dialogue and exchanges of skills between two generations.

So after discussing with Senior Wigor, we created an intergenerational team,
composed of seniors and young adults, the Pułtusk Six, to lead and organize the project: Pani Wacława and Pani Wanda (two seniors from Senior Wigor), Kuba and Iga (two of our mentors), Lyubava (a Russian local student and volunteer) and me.

Our application got accepted in the first round and in May, Pani Wacława, Lyubava, Sylwia and I went to the second round in the city of Ostrołeka, to present our idea in front of a jury.

For this occasion, I learned to introduce our team in Polish and Pani Wacława presented Senior Wigor, before Lyuba finished by presenting our project in details. We also showed them how we wanted the garden to be with a huge collage that I created with the help of Marie and the types of crafts the seniors love to create. 

We were very proud and excited after the presentation and we must have sounded convincing, as mid may, we received the good news! Our project got the financing! 😊

The preparation of the project
After our project got accepted, we had to prepare the four workshops, during which we intend to build the following pieces of furniture: two tables out of pallets, three benches with back out of pallets, a compost, up to 10 flower pots made with apple boxes, bird houses and decorations: pillows, coasters, lanterns, etc.

So we had to advertise our workshops, recruit young people, buy the material, plan the programme of the workshops, and so on.

Workshop number 1 (Tuesday the 13th of June)

On the 13th of June, it was finally time for our first workshop. We cut, sanded and treated our future pallet benches and tables with a special product and sanded some more to turn apple boxes into flower pots. It was hard work but we were very proud of the results!

Workshop number 2 (Tuesday the 20th of June)

During the second workshop, our intergenerational group gathered again in the garden of Senior Wigor to paint and decide the shape of our pallet tables and benches. We also painted the apple boxes that will turn into flower pots and started sewing the green pillows that will go on the benches. Have a look!

Informal meetings

Inbetween our workshops, we also try to organize informal meetings at Senior Wigor to continue the work that hasn’t been finished during the workshops, for instance sanding pallets, treating the wood, assembling the pallets, sewing more pillows, learning how to make decorations, etc.

The third workshop will take place on the 11th of July and we will be learning about compost, creating flower pots, coasters out of magazines and finishing our garden furniture. 

Join us! Zapraszamy!