Dina’s blog

“The Green Mountain” – so far so good…

Posted on May 21, 2012

It’s always been surprising how unexpected situations bring you to new places, people and cultures. Before one month I didn’t know all this summer I’m going to spend in Zielona Gora („Green Mountain” in English).

While I was in Leipzig, I received attempting newsletter from youthnetwork about urgent call for EVS volunteers in Poland for very interesting project. As I didn’t have fixed plans I sent my application and CV to this project..and believe me or not, within few hours I got accepted and within less than 1 week I was in Zielona Gora – shaking hands with my project coordinator and Baptist church pastor Mariusz, getting know this place, colleagues, people, working… and I have a feeling I’m much longer here than 3,5 weeks. It’s been so dynamic, interesting, active, maybe sometimes a bit stressful… but definitely a lot of fun and meaningful experience!

I’ll make some highlights, about the most memorable impressions and interesting things/events have been happened so far.

  • “The Journey. Going together realizing our dreams…”. It is name of my EVS project. I think Mariusz did amazingly great job making it work and getting support of EU Funds for taking volunteers from different countries. It makes church communities and local people every day life more interesting and great opportunity for me to be part of it. And the title really fits to this project – I feel like I’m realizing some of my dreams.
  • I’m living in the flat, which is soooo in the center that better location you can’t even imagine. Everything is close. And the flat is very cosy – I have big room with big mirrors (nice advantage if you arrive one of the first 🙂 ) The kitchen is a place where I can catch wifi and cook delicious meals and often meet my colleagues – David (Portugal, arrived 3 weeks before me) and Eva (Hungary, arrived 5 days after me) and where we have “laptop sessions”, serious and not so serious discussions and laughs. We’ve been getting more and more as a supportive team for each other and “family”. 🙂
  • In the first day I got to know Mariusz and his family – they are all very polite, hospital, warm and supersweet! Of course, when you meet Paulina – you just want to scream how cute is she!! 🙂 In few hours spending with her I got her as a good friend and the next day she run to me and gave me the warmest hug ever. My heart melted. 🙂 If I look now – I feel like a small part of this family during this project, they give me this feeling and I really appreciate it.
  • On Saturdays we have day care room for smaller children – aged between 4-10 years, we think about outdoor and inside activities, give them small milk and biscuits breaks. The kids are much fun, some of them more shy, difficult, some more brave, but in the end they all are warmed up and enjoying time together. We speak in English (a little bit Polish) with them and try to understand what they say in Polish. So this is some small English-Polish language exchange and I have a chance to remember all games which I was playing in childhood and try to do it together. It’s 4 hours job, quite responsible and acquires a lot of energy :). We appreciate much if other volunteers come to help us, last time we got Ania and Kinga, which was really great support.
  • Every Sunday we have church service with lot of worshiping songs, speech, prays and after it coffee and cake. This community is really small, but everybody is like part of big family – supporting when necessary and it’s always nice to have some chat after service. On the first Sunday I made small presentation about myself and my country, which made even more others come to me and get to know me – so I could speak in languages I know, cause English is not too common here, especially among older people. Some people know German or Russian better, so we had really multilanguage conversations. 🙂 I felt very welcomed. One Sunday I saw baptizing ceremony for girl Paulina – she was all in white and to get baptized the pastor and girl went into swimming pool (which is secret place under floor) to get water overall body. I felt goose bumps during the ceremony, it was emotional.
  • We went to Gdansk for the conference with Mariusz and David. On the way we stopped to see the biggest Jesus statue in the world. It is huge and we made few pictures. I heard one story the locals have some jokes about this statue – it is only 2 years old and people are counting time – “before Jesus” and “after Jesus” was build in this city. 🙂 It’s worth to see it! We arrived in Gdansk really late and went to school where the Baptist youth conference took a part. We met Mariusz brother Piotr (Pedro, Peter 🙂 ) who is a fluent in English and sometimes helped us as an interpreter. People around were interested that we spoke in English and were communicating with us. David learned new word in Polish – zabca (small frog in English), so he could get some special attention from girls. 🙂 We went to Gdansk center and spend there few hours walking around. I was impressed about buildings, port and great atmosphere in the city, I found it very attractive. After delicious ice-cream we went back to school and did the workshops about EVS. Mariusz told about what is it and how it works, but me and David told about our experience, tried to give good statement to young people to use this opportunity. There were few other workshops around like salsa, creative recycling material second use in interior and others. After nicely spending our afternoon we went back to Zielona Gora. On the way we stopped near sea side for some quick look to sunset. 🙂
  • 1st of May is official holiday and we went for a lovely hike in National Park which was 1 hour drive from Zielona Gora. We were together close to 20 people from the church – adults, kids and even dogs. It was educational forest path with small check points for children and families, 5km walk in this hot weather was cool! Everybody was enjoying much and after we went to the lake, making barbecue, picnic and kids were even swimming. When the majority of food was finished the thunder and hard rain surprised us. Then it was time for us to leave a place. 🙂 We went to one family’s house for coffee and cozy conversations. Yeah, I’m still impressed about Polish amazing hospitality. 🙂
  • Every Wednesday we have ICE – international club of English with children which are more than 12 years old. In the beginning I found it a bit confusing, as I have never had previous experience with teaching. But this how it works – I try with some funny exercises, games, get to know their English level and adapt tasks to situation. Learning by doing. David has a nice muppet – frog – so it’s also nice way to make attention and conversations and get positive feedback from kids. Indeed, not only from kids. 😀
  • On Fridays me and Eva are visiting program’s “Older sister, older brother” family with 6 children. They are foster family for 4 small kids, the smallest is 3 months old (but recently he got adoption parents, which are great news!!). The kids are amazing, they are cute and love to play with us. The parents are eager to know about our countries, languages, so it’s nice cultural exchange as well. They are really hospital, we always get great meal and coffee. And they say the kids get positive influence from our visits, so I think it is the best present for us.
  • Once in a week we have Polish lessons – so far 3 lessons. I find Polish a bit difficult, but it’s fun to learn, Patrycja and Marta are trying the best for teaching us this language. I see Eva and David really motivated to learn Polish,  I guess for me it’s good to know some basics, basic phrases and the best way to learn is to spend time with kids – they are great teachers. Another good way – to go out with Polish people which don’t speak much English.
  • We have cooperation with the organization which deals with kids and families with social difficult backgrounds in Zielona Gora and now they are involved with us in the same program “Older sister, older brother”. Lukasz and Agnieszka – coordinators – greeted us with ice-breaking games and big friendship. Right now two volunteers come with us to the families to spend time with kids, so the project would be with continuation after we leave Poland. Lukasz and Agnieska are great, they invited us for theater dance performances and also we had some nice game’s and tea evening together.
  • Once a month we help with a charity – distributing food and clothes, this is EU Funds supported project for all local people which need this support. I really like this job, gives me a really good feeling to help people, to be in contact with them and see charity process in general.
  • We were in the primary school with Eva and did presentations about our countries, promoting ICE and summer English and outdoor activities camps we are going to have during July and August. We tried to make presentations very attractive and easy to understand and in the end kids were asking funny questions. The teacher Lukasz supported with translation, so children understand everything completely. Even I had to talk 4 lessons the same stuff and it was a bit exhausting – I really enjoyed it!!
  • The Lutheran priest (we are living in his apartment) asked me if I could do some volunteering also in his church. We are talking in German, it is funny, cause my German is kind of poor, but somehow we understand each other. So mainly I go on Thursdays, where people from church gather in chapel and sing together worshiping songs, I have to play piano (!! quite a big challenge, as i haven’t done it for a looong time !!) and sing together with them. Next time I’m going to teach them songs in Latvian and English. 🙂 On Sundays during the service some children come to chapel and we do together creative workshops. The first time I got great support from Ania – local girl which knows English very well. She breaks language barrier between me and children and it is very helpful.
  • We were all giving interview for 96.00FM student radio http://radio.uzetka.pl/. In the beginning seemed very difficult for us cause of lack of sleep and tiredness, but after Alex made us a coffee – we were ready for great time and talks. 🙂 The interview was in non-formal way, he was asking what do we think about Polish people, culture, what are we doing here and why did we choose this place. The time run fast and it was the first time for me to be in radio studio – loads of fun! After radio we went to legendary milk bar and ate pancakes. Really cheap and tasty – recommended!
  • Two days we were in another school (where Mariusz kids are studying), giving English lessons for kids from the 1st to 6th grade. We played some funny games with them, so they could speak, listen, sing with us, try to understand and do it with playing. The most popular got banana song (which is energizing everybody) and “ha ha” game, where nobody can laugh, which is pretty difficult task 🙂 I got a lot of positive emotions during days at school, children were curious and with different reactions about what we do and what they have to do – but it was awesome and I could understand also my abilities to work with kids during these lessons better.
  • On Friday we had Portuguese evening – David was cooking nice meal and we were playing table games in Mariusz place. Compliments to David, the dish was very delicious, even it was fish. 🙂 I like the game “Uno” – with special Mariusz family rules – yes, he likes to create all the time something new. 🙂 After volunteering around I really start to like table games more and more – it’s much better than watching dummy TV shows. 🙂
  • We got lucky to be out in Museum’s night – seeing some German fairy tales performance, tasting German beer, going to art gallery, decorating plates in workshop, painting, seeing torture museum, wine museum, tasting Zielona Gora wine (which is not possible to buy in any shop), Eva even managed to give small interview for local newspaper. 🙂 Afterwards we went to beer garden with some crazy company. 🙂 I think with every day our daily life gets more and more interesting and full of surprises. 🙂
  • We have two lovely mentors – Monika and Marta. Yesterday Monika and Oscar invited us for games night. We had great conversations about life here, we tasted their self-made wine (which was gorgeous) and played “domino” and “jungle speed”. I managed to win domino (this version is much more interesting than usual one) 4 times on the row for surprise for everybody and myself. 🙂 The “jungle speed” is more how fast can you be and what is your reaction. It’s crazy game, can get lot of accident kicks, but you can imagine how much fun it brings. 🙂 Monika and Oscar have lovely flat in beautiful place and we enjoyed their company a lot!!

Zielona Gora is really green and pretty city with lot of opportunities for me, Eva and David as volunteers. I’m really thankful every day to God for this opportunity to be here. To be continued…

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

How did it start?

Posted on May 14, 2012

If you do the job or activities what doesn’t bring you anymore satisfaction and happiness, you have to change something in your routine or life. So simple. 🙂 You can quit a job, look for another one, look for some other hobbies … or get in inspirational travel (volunteer) break to fulfill yourself with different emotions, freedom feeling and unbelievable experience. I did it. And I’m happy I still can do it. 🙂

Half a year I’m doing volunteering in different places – the first one was with 14 adorable huskies in Austria – training them, doing court runs, sleigh runs, hikes, making orientation hikes with youngsters from youth centers and being supportive for kids from social difficult backgrounds in animal assistance therapy. Huskies are extremely friendly dogs and it’s so easy to get touched with them. I really miss them a lot, their own unique character and pure love. Every day to meet them, go for hike or bike ride – it’s like a gift, personal therapy and great outdoor sport. www.snowdragons.at – in this website you can see this place where I was working.

As I love nature, mountains and animals I decided to do some breath-taking experience in Alps – in organic farm. This family is making organic cheese business from cow and goat milk and are followers of „slow food” movement. I had a chance to milk goats, make 10 different kind of goat and cow cheese, bake bread, make another milk products as butter, yoghurt, sour cream, take part in biomarkets, to wake up every day with saying „hi” to Alps and be part of well harmonized family with strong traditions (like eating always together). And the cheese – I have never eaten so much good cheese in my life and generally, so much good and healthy food. Even oat flake’s I grinded from oats in special manual machine. I hope I can upload soon photos as well to give some overview. It’s so cool to see how they make barters/exchanges with products with neighbors, so they are almost self-efficient in food. Isn’t that wonderful?

The third volunteering was in Leipzig – in the most alternative and artistic East-Germany city. I really fell in love with this city – full of parks, arts, artists and architecture. I did volunteering in alternative-style house, made order from chaos, made garden really pretty, prepared the rooms for exhibitions. I heated my room by wood, which sometimes was a little bit challenging, but I enjoyed this process. Even I was there only couple of weeks, I had many beautiful moments like barbecue with candle lights, seeing all Leipzig from roof top during night, picnic in the park with guitar playing, jazzy nights, kitchen concert with superb Canadian food and Canadian musician and South – Italian culture night with folk dance learning. So many impressions and vibrations.

These first three volunteering jobs I was doing through workaway.info – it’s opportunity to work in different places around 25 hours a week and get free accommodation and food. Great chance for backpackers to travel cheap and stay in the places for longer period and doing quite interesting stuff.

In the next post I’m going to tell where I am now and what I am doing right now and last 2,5 weeks. 🙂Image

 Summer camp and around that…

Posted on August 20, 2012

During my stay in Zielona Gora I have met people which have take really important part of my life here and now I realized it’s so sad to meet these friends only now – close to the end of the project. One of these friends is Karolina. Actually I met her in the beginning of summer in one conference. She came and started to speak with me, while I was caring about the kids. I realized she is very motivated to speak in English and eager to meet foreigners to practice the language. We exchanged with e-mails and wrote to each other for some time and then she came to Tandem night. Last week it happened to meet her almost every day (we try to make our last weeks more interesting with various gatherings with her and other friends) and every time she came to us with an extremely delicious, beautiful, self-made cake. Isn’t that wonderful? I see how special, natural and warmhearted she is. On Saturday after marvelous wedding ceremony in our church we, volunteers (yeah, we have new, cute volunteer from Portugal – Sofia!!), were honored to see and take part, Karolina invited all of us to her house. We had a picnic outside in her cozy garden and afterwards we visited winery „Julia” of Zielona Gora, heard the stories how they grow grapes and make wine, in the end we tasted 4 different types of wine. I most enjoyed the white wine.

After we were playing badminton, enjoying beautiful time together… Yesterday in the morning Karolina called me and invited me for the trip to Lagow with her husband. I had to be ready in 5 minutes and I was. 🙂 The temperature outside reached almost +35 degrees, but we didn’t care much – we had such a good time visiting one of the most beautiful village in Lubuska land and Zoo, having refreshing water dances. Her husband was very patient that we spoke in English, but sometimes he understood what we are talking about and it was nice he got involved. We were walking in the national park and I really felt special connection with this girl – she has gone through many hard times in her life and this amazing positiveness and spark in her eyes is amazing.

Last week has been special also with Spanish night – Andres was making very delicious Spanish meal and doing music therapy session – special musical activities for integrating people, feeling the music and it’s positive affection. In the summer camp we were also doing this and everybody simply loved it.

It has been some while ago we had summer camp. It took part close to Kolobrzeg – tourist city which is located near the Baltic Sea. It was more than 10 days long camp, we went there without big clue how everything is going to happen and how we will realize it together. But Mariusz has 10 years experience in organizing camps, so we felt we are in safe hands. 🙂 We went with many ideas together and were ready for hard work.

I got cold in the beginning, so my first days in the camp started with loads of tea drinking and visit to doctor. But I don’t like to sleep and do nothing, so I tried to take part in most of activities. The weather was extremely kind with us and first days many hours were spent in the beach.

If I’m thinking now about what happened in the camp – it was big cocktail of all emotions among participants and organizational team. You could meet everything – starting from anger and misunderstanding until happiness, love and tears in the end leaving the place. It was quite big school for me and I think all volunteers and everybody made this camp so special and unforgettable. Even sometimes I felt totally out of energy and I thought it’s all enough – there were some moments which gave me extra strength to continue and better.

Every day in the camp was filled with many activities. I’ll try to memorize and mention most of them:

  • Camp song/dance – integral part of making our day. We created movements in the first day of the song “Friend Like That”by Hawk Nelson and everyone was involved to dance and sing it every day. 🙂
  • Energizers, ice-breakers, games – we had them a lot. Every day different, attractive and most of them in English. Piotr was our angel – translating in both languages, so everyone can understand. This was English camp, so we were also focusing to the games and workshops in English
  • Bible study and worshipping – every day was fulfilled with singing – Mariusz (sometimes with additional help from Andres and Piotr) were playing musical instruments and all together we were singing. Mariusz was leading Bible studies, the theme of this camp was „the Journey”, so they were together exploring the travels in the Bible. All participants were divided in 3 smaller groups according to age, every group had a wonderful leader – Ania, Magdalena or Piotr. Ania was together with her husband and 5 years adorable daughter – Olivia. She was unbelievable social, smart and cute girl, took part in all activities. 🙂
  • Video of the day – David was collecting pictures and small videos and making nice big video about every days activities. He put big effort to make them and everybody was really appreciating his work.
  • Going to the beach – as weather was very beautiful and sunny, most of the days we were visiting beach – swimming, skim boarding, playing games (flags, games with balls, card games, water balloons etc.), the most attractive competition was sand contest – children in teams made beautiful figures – we saw how creative they are. The winner team made mermaid, it was really pretty. http://dinsytravel.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/dsc01846.jpg
    The most fantastic time during the evening – to see how sun is falling down and get colorful perspective.
  • Outdoor sports. There was opportunity to play different kind of sports – football, volleyball, basketball, rugby. One day we organized Olympic games (with special Olympic flame) – funny sports, where the team (with name, moto) should be really integrated to succeed results. One Sunday we had military day – we were playing laser paintball. It was only day when it was raining, but somehow that gave special effect. 🙂
  • International days. As we are volunteers from different countries, we organized educative and entertaining days for getting know better our countries and cultures. Andres was organizing Spanish day – he was making “abanico” workshop, together we made big “piñata”, where later kids have to get surprise – candies falling out of it.

Later he was making music therapy session, which everybody really enjoyed and felt emotionally much more integrated with each other. Eva was organizing Hungarian day – showing some interesting movies, teaching Hungarian song, some small language exercises and traditional dance. David was representing Portugal and showing some videos about his country, telling some most important facts, teaching game and in the end gave some roosters to paint and make designs, cause rooster is one of the most common souvenirs to take to home. Latvian day was leading by me (yeah, I was in national costume again 🙂 ) – I showed nice video about Latvia, and made quiz with small presents, in the same time it was presentation about Latvia to know more facts. I showed also small cartoon from „Avarijas Brigade” series. In the end I taught few traditional Latvian dances and games, it was pretty successful. 🙂

  • Sugar cubes – on the wall we made big poster and everyone put an envelope with their own name. During all camp everybody could put some nice messages to each other. It was very succesful project, everybody could delight each other with cute messages.
  • Room inspection – during all camp we had very strong competition between rooms. 5 rooms got evaluated by strict international team – us. 🙂 Every day we were checking, how clean are the rooms and we gave bonus points, if the rooms have made decorations. The girls and small guys were trying really hard, sometimes they did amazing things just to get higher score. Cause of this competition we were arguing a lot with evaluation team, but in the end it was all very good. 🙂
  • Workshops – we had various kind of workshops – creative – to paint, make some jewelry, create nice design books, paint and create different frames. Photography workshop was leaded by special guest, shadow theater – leaded by David.

  • Movie night – one night youth had opportunity to watch a movie to the big screen after evening program.
  • Karaoke night – very powerful night with karaoke in English, Polish, Spanish and Portuguese. Everybody was involved in singing and dancing. I gained a lot of energy during this night
  • Excursion to Kolobrzeg. We were visiting city two times, enjoying tourist beach, visiting aqua park, attractions, climbing to the tower, enjoying free time wandering around, dancing Belgium dance on the pedestrian street (our favorite dance).
  • Barbecue – we had a small barbecue in the garden. Just on time before thunderstorms.
  • Treasure hunt – in the last camp day we had nice activity organized by Magda. We were two teams – one team is making signs, directions and giving tasks to do for another team. So, the second team should follow the signs, do all tasks and try to catch the first team. It was very good game and advanture for integrating the team.
  • Talent show – the last evening’s closing was a party – talent show. In the beginning we decorated the room together beautifully. Participants could perform with different kinds of talents – some were singing, some playing musical instruments, some were juggling with balls, playing theater… and some were playing jokes in Japanese and Chinese restaurants. 🙂 This was very emotional evening, I saw sad faces with tears, because it was last one. Everyone got a poster on the back and could write to each other lovely things or wishes.

Even this camp was sometimes stressful and we didn’t feel much organized – i felt I have gained meaningful experience and it was cool also the way it was. Youth and children got well integrated and got meaningful friendships (and it is the same for organizational team), they got more motivated to learn and speak in English, be creative and more confident. We were thinking with David if there would be second summer camp – it would be perfect and much easier with our experience so far. 🙂 I think it was unique we had very international and individual perspectives – so to make the camp more colorful and attractive.

After the summer camp we got one week holidays. I traveled to Wroclaw and Szklarska Poreba to see Polish mountains part and waterfalls – for me these were perfect holidays to be in peace and listen to nature, do lot of hikings, meet amazingly hospital locals. In the weekend my friends Dace and Massimo from Prague visited me and I can only say with every week the stay here is better and better and more with surprises and nice moments.

It will be very hard to leave you soon, Zielona Gora…

Summer idyll & feelings & sounds

Posted on July 23, 2012

„Time goes, that’s it”…. this song comes to my mind, when I’m thinking about the time right now – it runs really fast, I can’t stop it (even sometimes I wish I could), but from other hand it’s a good sign the time has been spent in good way and it’s idea is to enjoy every single moment.

July and August are the months for holidays and vacations. Our schedule is different – sometimes relaxed, sometimes more work. Right now we are preparing for summer camps and I guess it will acquire from us loads of energy. I’m really looking forward for this experience – the summer camp will take place near the sea, so we gonna have many activities outdoors with sports and many workshops. Let’s pray about good weather – now it seems more comparable to British weather – some moments hot and sunny, some heavy rain, thunder storming and then comes cold and windy. Unpredictable all the time. 🙂

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I will give some small overview about new things so far:

Tandem nights. Every Monday bunch of people come to Atelier cafe and speak with each other in different languages –  English, Polish, German, Spanish, Russian… It’s more like language exchange and socializing. One night we had beautiful surprise – Andres was playing saxophone to all visitors. Andres is our new volunteer from Spain, he plays some musical instruments beautifully and tries to improve his English (and it’s getting with every day better!).

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English for adults. We are teaching English to beginners and intermediate level. It is totally different experience and approach to teach, because it’s more serious and adults have different motivations. We were a bit arguing with David what is the best way to teach language for adults. But I think every teacher has another way to teach and all the ways can be acceptable and effective until it really works. This is a place for experiments. 🙂

Movie nights. Every Friday we have English movie night. It is on the big screen in the church, usually in English – with Polish subtitles. Right now we have seen movies: „Pay it Forward” and „Left Behind”. We try to choose the movies which brings some good message and I think… it’s really cool to watch a movie in the church…somehow it gives added value. 🙂

Bowling night. One Thursday’s evening we were playing bowling with friends and few kids from Foster families. We had a small competition and absolutely champion was Mariusz – he is very skilful! For me the first tour was not that successful, but in the second tour it was big progress. 🙂 By the way, on the same day I saw around 25 Latvians on the main street of Zielona Gora!!! It was some school’s orchestra performing on the street, but you can imagine my surprise. I wouldn’t imagine any Latvian walking on Zielona Gora’s street and then finally so many… it was funny 🙂

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Ochla attraction days. Two Saturdays on the row we had chilling days in Ochla park – with Foster families and friends. This is park with many opportunities for different kind of attractions – floated ones for jumping, crawling in the ball on the water, swimming, table hockey, barbecue place…. The smaller kids could visit Pirate island with searching for treasures, for a moment to be a captain for a pirate ship. I could see the sparks in their eyes, everyone had so much joy and curiosity about things which happened in this secret island. All of the kids are really cute, one my favorite in Veronika – she is really attached to me, always asking for me, hugging me, I really feel like I could be her bigger sister. For older kids and young adults the walking on woods were nice adventure and for some even challenge. I had some nice time on the boat with three Polish friends – Ania, Kinga and Monika. These days made these kids everyday life much brighter and in the end we could see how happily tired they are.

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EVS training in Kazimierz. Me and Eva went to wonderful place – Kazimierz Dolny. We had an EVS mid-term training, which took a place in quite challenging hill top – in the forest, beautiful hotel. The leaders of training were Ania and Marta – they let us to create all the training – what would we like to see, learn, practice, experience, share, talk about…. in the end we did so much. It was very valuable to meet all these volunteers, get to know how they are working, what are their impressions, problems, progression while living in Poland, expectations in future. Was pretty cool to share energizers, games, dances, some people were talking about their travels, their own countries, skills. The atmosphere was relaxed, the place was perfect for creativeness, good thoughts about the life in general, what have we achieved and what can we do for future. I understood it’s not only me who is confused about the next steps in the life, but mostly all of people there were not sure and still in searching process. We had workshops in groups, individually and… how we feel. All of us were really amazed by food – it was sooooooo good. In our free time we managed to go for concerts, have some small parties with funny games and visit beautiful town – Kazimierz Dolny. In our last training day we got information about future possibilities in different fields and also how we can fill youth pass, how useful is it. The greatest surprises were trip by boat and bon fire with food in the evening. I really fell in love with this place, with this atmosphere we created and people. I truly hope I’ll meet again some of them in future, it was really special time together.

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Bikes and horses. Last weekend I went with friend by bikes to Przybek – small place close to Zielona Gora, near airport. The reason was to have nice time on cycling in the nature – as I really missed to do it. The second and the most important reason was to visit Adriana – another volunteer from Zielona Gora (our mid-term discover!!), who is working with horses. She got in accident one week ago and it’s hard to walk for her. But we managed to see all horses (they are gorgeous!!), see a bit environment and have nice chats with Adi. Her place is like small dream, only minus there are no many people and not too many options to socialize. We had a nice lunch in her balcony – near forests, airport and horses. Small idyll. 🙂 The night ended with Alex’s (radio Index DJ) Birthday party – local rock bands and disco/rock&roll music afterwards. Music was with very good taste, so I really enjoyed the party. 🙂

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Tomorrow we gonna start our crazy days in the summer camp in Kolobrzeg. 🙂 I hope it won’t only take away lot of energy from us, but also fulfill our minds and soul with great experience and feelings! 🙂

Taste Latvia!

Posted on July 2, 2012

Few days ago I came back from my holidays in Latvia. When I visited my country I just realized how much I miss it and how happy I am to be Latvian. Maybe sounds a bit proud, but, even I consider myself very European, the home feeling I get in Latvia – will nobody take me away, no matter where I’m going to live rest of my life.

Cottage cheese dessert „Kārumiņš”, kvass, black-rye bread – these were the first product I got into my stomach, which I was missing a lot.

9 days in Latvia flew away very fast. Again seeing my sister, 3 godchildren (Linda, Roberts and Emīlija), family, meeting friends, visiting my lovely choir, enjoying Old Town charm and alive concert in the main square, performing in 2 small concerts with singing in , taking part in  2 graduation ceremonies, preparing program (with my family) for Līgo/Jāņi (Midsummer festival), seeing my precious grandparents, waiting the sunrise after shortest night in the year with great company and glass of wine, making flower crowns, going to sauna, swimming in the river. It all just made wonderful holidays and strong desire to stay longer.

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But I had great reason to come back – my Polish family was waiting me here.:) And I had very important mission – to present Latvia – it’s food and culture. It was really nice I got opportunity to do Latvian international night after my holidays, so most of the products were from Latvia. I prepared grey pies with bacon, some Latvian bread and cheese, and for dessert back-rye bread dessert and sweet sausage from biscuits and condensate milk. Thanks a lot to my lovely colleagues – Eva and David for helping me out with food preparation and Ania for solving the problem with whipped cream.:) I presented Latvia also by wearing national costume, telling stories about Latvia, giving flag color bracelets for memory, teaching the folk song: „Bēdu manu, lielu bēdu”, showing the dances „Man krustmāte reiz bija..”, „Plaukstiņpolka”, „Ādamam bij’ septiņ’ dēli”….

I think people got a little bit taste of Latvian culture and food and I was honoured to show it.:)

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KoKo KoKo EuRo SpOkO

Posted on June 15, 2012

It’s been crazy week, Polish people are huge football fans and here in every step you can feel it (unusually loud), smell it (loads of beer) and see it around. Maybe because this year Eurocap is partly taking place also in Poland. Proud flags, faces, behavior and favorite topic to talk about. Near our house is specially built big white tent, where everybody with will of watching and supporting can get inside, watch the games, scream, wave flags, scarves, play drums…. and drink beer. Feeling inside is like huge Polish family. They have very funny country’s official anthem for Euro 2012 – Polish ladies dressed like nuns singing „Koko koko Euro Spoko”. Somebody is shamed of this anthem, somebody is singing it around, cause melody is sticky and easy to remember. 🙂 The nights are really noisy, especially after games with Poland. Somehow I’m really enjoying this atmosphere, even I’m not extreme football fan. Sometimes we go to Mariusz place to watch football together – small or big – everybody is watching and enjoying. Cause of football match we even had to cancel ICE on Wednesday – it’s really important for youngsters not to miss any match. 🙂

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Now I’ll change from „cup” to „cap”  – we had awesome activity last Thursday all day long. We were segregating the plastic cups – it’s charity event where kids from 10 schools of Zielona Gora are collecting caps and bringing to one place. Lukasz (the Project coordinator) with team is selecting all over the year and bringing to his warehouse. Then these plastic caps are separated (sometimes we found some interesting stuff like batteries, metal cups, coins etc.) and then these plastic caps go to selling and this money which is got – go to charity for wheelchair for disable people. The weather was nice and we were more than 10 volunteers – energetical, positive and with great team spirit! Between hard work we had some nice barbecue in outdoors, we could lay down on the blanket and even play guitar. The end result of selected caps – 3,4 tons, which is quite impressive amount and record of last years. 🙂 we are even in local newspaper, radio about this wonderful project which has been carried every year and gets more popularity. http://zielonagora.gazeta.pl/zielonagora/1,35161,11907076,Plastikowe_nakretki_czyli_jak_smieci_moga_pomagac.html

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Last Friday was special with conference where we also promoted our church and activities. It was long weekend, so school was filled only with young people – participants from protestant churches around Zielona Gora. The special guests were American couple which do mission and go around to different places to talk with youngsters. To talk about love, about relationship, men and women and marriage and, of course, everything from Christian’s perspective. Unfortunately i could hear only one lecture, but I got feeling this couple are really good orators and can inspire lot of people. I went to this church service on Sunday (it starts a little bit earlier than in our church, so I could connect). For big surprise I met some kids from day care room (they run to me and hugged me), i met the English teacher Monika and also Rieke. This service is really different, a little bit crazy, very positive and full of people which come to the service with a big joy. After I run to our church and there was a guest with very nice speech – also about marriage (the topic of the week :). Big thanks to Daniel – he is translating me the last services so I can understand about what pastors are talking. 🙂

I wanted to mention also the last day care room – the number of the children coming to spend Saturday noon with us – is increasing. And we are really thankful for our Polish helpers – this time we had Oskar, Sara (his sister) and Kinga. In the beginning we were playing together, but, as we had also very small kids-  we divided the older and younger kids, younger kids in the playground, but older – playing games with ball and other outdoor fun activities, which might be interesting for this age. 🙂

In the end we had crazy water games with balloons. Two balloons exploded near me, so I got pretty much spilled water and wet clothes. 🙂 But it was fun activity and weather was really perfect for this. 🙂

The number of families in the project „Older sister, older brother” is also increasing and we have more and more families to visit and do some small workshops with the kids. It’s really nice to see how kids are living, what is their environment, Foster parents and their reaction and adaption to me/us. Sometimes it’s sad to see parents don’t have too much time for them, so they stay alone at house and just watch TV or play games in computer. Yesterday we visited 16 years old guy – David – with small disability. In the beginning it seemed quite difficult to communicate and find a common language, but he is very special guy with lot of interests. We were playing table hockey (yeah, much fun and he is very good!), darts and Harry Potter playstation (i have to admit, im not fan of playstation). But it seems something very special for guy and it’s nice he wants to share it all. He is very talanted in handcrafts.

I invited girls – Kinga and Ania for small guitar session this week. They both play guitars really beautifully. I  miss my musician friends and singing, so this was something really nice – we were playing guitar, singing and in the end we had some cool karaoke party. 🙂

And, yeah, tomorrow evening I’m leaving for holidays – going to Latvia. My lovely goddaughter Linda has 1 year Birthday tomorrow. I really miss my family and friends, so I’m very excited to see them all very very soon!! 🙂

P.S. I cross my fingers for a Polish team tomorrow in the match – Poland – Czech Republic. 🙂 Go, Polska!

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Presentations, energizers and other animals.. this day at school. 🙂

Posted on June 4, 2012

David barely opened eyes today. Me and Eva either, but we had some small coffee in the morning which I really appreciate in cases like this. Fast fresh shower and we got out. We usually are late birds at work, but this morning we had to start our way already after 7am!! Still very cold outside. We packed with all promotional materials about camps, presentation and one of our mentor Daniel gave us also some pens and t-shirts with his company logo (http://www.wyspa-ogloszen.pl/), which we used as motivation presents for right answers to our questions about our countries. We went to Gymnasium Nr.10, where students are in the age of 13-19. With a big surprise from both sides we met in the school our friends Ania and Viola. But as we know, Zielona Gora is small city. 🙂

The teacher Monika was waiting us with big smile and warm heart, we were welcomed to the first class with another English professor. Without projector and visual presentation’s opportunities, but in this case Eva was using her informative brochures about Hungary, David – blackboard and paintings, I was just telling some short, attractive facts about Latvia. The most important and attractive part was playing games. The students really enjoy it a lot and we all together have fun.

The next lessons were more advanced – with projector, with more classes together. If I could choose – I would like smaller classes – till 20 students it’s perfect size. Once we even had 3 classes together and then it was quite difficult, not enough seats and place for interactive games, so not every student could take a part in our games, which was very pity. I know we have to adapt and find for other solution in these cases, but sometimes it seems really impossible. In the next lesson we organized classroom in better way, so the students have no choice to hide and everybody can take part in the games. Yeah, with every class we experienced different things, different levels of English and different reaction to our games. It was interesting to observe. They were interested in our presentations, especially when it came to sports and languages. The top games which made the most dramatical and funniest emotions was a rabbit game (with kissing), potatoes (Polish style) energizer and the „changing place” game, where they could speak the most. Some students were shy, some very smart and brave and this experience overall was really great! I think this was good motivation for students to study English more and be active!

We had one lesson off where we could eat Monika’s Birthday’s cake (yeah, we go in the right day 🙂 ), give her hug and speak with other English professors. It was informal, full of laughs great time!! We discovered they have really cozy teacher’s room (only for 11 English teachers, was the dorm room in the past) with couch, awesome teddy bear, nice posters on the walls and great atmosphere. Teachers had lot of stories to tell about Poland, students and life there.

Even we were leading many lessons today (now I can say I’m pretty tired) – it was fantastic experience to meet all these students, teachers, give them our stories, energy and smiles and receive the best – the joy about our job today. 🙂

p/s In the picture in cozy teacher’s couch with famous teddy bear (yes, teddy bear has underpants as well. 🙂 )

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Rock’n’roll!

Posted on June 3, 2012

This week we got a little bit more freedom. Monday and Tuesday we had off, so I could use it not only for cleaning, shopping and washing clothes, but.. also a bit more exploring city. I was really curious to get to local aqua park – which is with very good price (only 10zl for 2 hours) and… I don’t regret at all my decision to go there, even I didn’t have company. It’s relaxation center with many big swimming pools, many Jacuzzis, water streams and 5 tubes!! I got so much relaxed fun and laughs there…when it comes to water tubes – I feel like a kid and I want to try everything, even it means lot of water coming to wrong way – to nose, eyes and make a little bit uncomfortable. But I was extremely glad there! This relaxation park was visited by many people – lot of kids, adults, disable and elder people. Everyone can find something for him/herself and there were only happy people. I had some small talks with another visitors, some really want to practice English so much. 🙂

On my list was to see also Botanical garden and Amphitheater. Botanical garden is  small, but pretty and cozy, I saw many students working there. Amphitheater is in very green, huge park, which I’ll go to see all park more when I’m going to have bike. 🙂 Still waiting for having it! 🙂

On Wednesday we had some small administration work in the office and I was leading ICE (International club of English). My students were three around 14 years old boys. I find it with every time easier to teach and it gives me more confidence. This time I used travel topic and we could imagine where we could travel if we have plane, submarine, metro… one of guy said his favorite subject is English, it was good to hear there are really motivated students. 🙂

There was very big conference for all Foster families from Zielona Gora on Thursday where we took a part. This meeting was very meaningful for them (with president and other important representatives from city) and they could also get to know what we are doing here and about our Project „Older sister, older brother”, day-care room for kids. I think it was very successful and also I noticed I felt pretty good in front of this audience.

Eva made excellent Hungarian dinner event! I really loved goulash soup and cake. We gathered around 15 persons in Mariusz’ place and the Friday’s evening was really nice – with Hungarian music, food and loads of funny games. Next will be my turn, so I really hope I can manage very nice Latvian evening! Already have many ideas. 🙂

This week has been emotional – with many ups and downs. But it’s good to realize we are all humans and sometimes we have time for laughing, being happy and sometimes – for being angry, sad. And it’s always good to have someone to talk about it, when emotions are going over the limit. 🙂

Tonight I have rock’n’roll mood… even seems tomorrow we gonna have loooong and hard day at school with presentations, promotions and games – I feel it’s gonna be cool and already looking forward! But now – preparations!!!!

Let it rock and roll tonight!!! 🙂

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To take it easy – trip to Warsaw!

Posted on May 30, 2012

Lately I’ve learned a lot to be PATIENT. And take things easier way, as plans can change in the last moment.

Our trip to Warsaw started on Thursday. On the way we got in huge traffic jam and for avoiding it we chose another smaller road where we started to have some problems with car only 100km from Warsaw. I sometimes really admire Mariusz, how he can deal with these situations so gentle and with low-stress, „don’t worry” approach and I’m trying to overtake this easiness to myself. Even I know sometimes the things are going their own way and planned things sometimes fail, which sometimes give opportunity for new ones. 🙂

I arrived to Warsaw on Thursday at 8pm (the planned time was 5pm), which wasn’t that bad (we could stay on the road longer time) and I jumped out on the street where my dinner took a place. It was Indian restaurant owned by Singaporean (which has traveled almost 70 countries and has big story baggage to tell about). I ordered something really amazingly delicious – chicken in soft curry sauce and Indian bread. They brought me on the fondue type plate with candle inside.I was impressed. 🙂

My dinner mates were from Poland, France and Germany, time was running fast and stories about travels filling our minds and giving will to travel more. I stayed in French girl’s Aurelie place in students-shared big flat in huge room. Not the place gave me the meaning for this night, but conversations with Aurelie, how easy they went and how similar we were in thinking, we didn’t realize how fast time runs and fell asleep quite late. I’m already looking forward to meet her another time.

In the next morning I bought a new camera. My previous camera just stopped to work in Germany, so i think this was a good purchase in order to be more independent on my travels. 🙂

The main reason why I came to Warsaw was a conference in Radosc for Baptist churches. The place was in the middle of forest, fresh air, beautiful area and many birds with their daily songs. I truly can say I got the best sleep ever during my all stay in Poland – so calm and relaxing.

In the conference we were promoting what we are doing in the church, for local community and distributing posters about summer camps. We made a huge poster in previous evening and presented many colorful posters about camps. The participants of the conference were mainly pastors or other representatives from all Baptist churches in Poland. Many people were coming to our stand and asking many questions or just to talk. I had some nice discussions with Dutch guy, who was working there and responsible for technical stuff and also American guy which is married with Polish girl and lives in Poland and teach English for kids and adults. I heard many inspiring stories, made some nice walks in the forest and spent very precious time. I like to be in nature a lot. And peace sometimes is really needed to order the thoughts.

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Man sitting in the park under the shelter and practicing playing cello, heart-warming sounds.

Around 65 years old man told me he learned English by reading all Bible on English, indeed his English is quite fluent!!

On the way back we visited Mariusz mother and made her suprise – as it was Mother’s day. Ice-cream time. Roses. Coffee. I suddenly missed my family so much…

 

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