Exploring children's high curiosity, teachers' friendliness, and school's happiness for Christmas
Today is exactly one year since I began a very long journey for the first time in my life across the continent. This important moment has become part of a life story that has been deeply affected throughout my life span. A valuable experience in Central Europe that will continue to be remembered.
At the end of August 2018, I decided to apply for winter project for AIESEC Global Volunteer in Poland. This project is "International Kindergarten 4.0" intended to conduct workshops and training for kids which will encourage them in their further education. To actually make this happen, volunteers should prepare six weeks implementation plan which should consist of: cultural track, practical English track, SDG's track, self development track, games and other activities. It has been held on 10 December 2018 - 18 January 2019.
To find out more about this project please open this link and if you like to know why did I choose AIESEC for my volunteer opportunity, just read this page.
Departure from Indonesia
Before my departure, I attended an Out-coming Preparation Seminar (OPS) held by AIESEC in UKSW, Salatiga. I met some Indonesian volunteers who planned to go to Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. We were given brief knowledge of AIESEC, build up Indonesian nationalities, practice some roll dances from various countries, and prepared our departure. Other than that, we were introduced to other AIESEC member.
Welcome to Poland!
Finally, I was here after a long preparation for approximately 3 months. I landed in Berlin on December 7, 2018 and headed straight to Szczecin by bus. Previously I traveled from Indonesia to Singapore and met other volunteer from Vietnam. When I arrived in Szczecin, I was picked up by my buddy, an AIESEC member and another volunteer from Brazil. I decided to change the euro to złoty Poland immediately. Next, I was taken to the dorm to have a rest.
On the next day, I joined the Incoming Preparation Seminar (IPS) conducted by AIESEC in Szczecin. I met all volunteers from Brazil, India, Vietnam, China, Egypt and Colombia. We signed the contract, followed the preparation material before going to school, made our expectations, performed Polish roll call, got in touch with AIESEC in Szczecin's member and had lunch together. I was impatient for my very first volunteering abroad at school.
During the project, I stayed in the dorm with two other female volunteers from China and two male volunteers from Colombia (separate rooms, of course). Other volunteers live in their host families. I went to school at 8 a.m. and went back around 3 p.m. I went to school by tram which took around 15-20 minutes. I would love to share all of the stories, but I could not specify everything. Following are the highlights activities and moments in the first school, Szkoła Podstawowa Nr 65 in Szczecin, Poland .
Exciting Presentation Session
The presentation session is an exciting and main part for me. I presented a lot about Indonesia. Starting from geography, culture, food, animals, weather, Indonesian currency, national fabric and "wayang". I was surprised by the high curiosity of the children. They love to ask anything, even the ones that sound weird. If you want to find out frequently asked questions by children during my presentation, please check this page.
While in class, I was assisted by teachers to translate English into Polish. They were very patient to help children understand what I was saying about. The presentation was alternated with my partner, Juan, from Colombia. We collaborated to show videos about the landscape of each country. At some moment, the children asked to play the video they wanted to know more about.
The children were also enthusiastic about sharing their stories about Poland. Moreover, they always comment on Indonesian and Polish flags that have the same color but upside down. Some even commented that the Polish flag was there first. They showed videos about traditional dances and tried to teach us to dance.
Another interesting thing is that Juan and I became "celebrities" for about two weeks. Since our arrival at school, children have been surprised to see strangers with different skin colors than they are. So they always ask for photos and try to talk to us. For me, this is a very impressive thing where children can find out about other parts of the world and interact with new people who look very different from them.
Helpful Buddy and Partner
During the project, I was assisted by a buddy, Eryk. He is a Polish and also a member of AIESEC. He picked me up when I arrived in Szczecin, taught me how to take a tram, helped to translate when I did not understand any Polish' words, took me to school on the first day, helped to exchange money, answered all my questions about this project, and so on. The important thing is he was the first person I contacted when I faced a problem during the project.
At the first school, I partner with Juan from Colombia. We collaborated together in class during our presentation. I have to admit, he speaks English so well. So he helped me a lot when I forgot certain words in English. He also helped during my presentation, which if I had difficulty organizing the class with my low voice. When I run out of coins to pay for the tram, he covered it for a while. He took a very good care of me during the project .
Wonderful Christmas Eve
It was the first time I celebrated Christmas abroad, quite a distance from family. But I feel the warmth of the family in this school. They involved us to prepare decorations and appearances for Christmas Eve. Me, Juan, the children, and the teacher together made gingerbread to share. We also decorate a Christmas tree together.
There is something unique about celebrating Christmas in Poland where everyone will hold a thin white cake, then break each other's cookies and say "Merry Christmas" and their wishes. After that, they will eat the piece of cake that they got. This is the tradition that I first saw. Very warm and peaceful. I see people hugging each other and expressing their love for others.
Children's performance on stage is also an unforgettable thing. Some sang Christmas Carol, dance, drama and played musical instruments. All children received prizes for each of their performances. Juan and I were also given the opportunity to sing "Feliz Navidad" with the children and the teacher while dancing together joyfully.
Felt the Snow in Gdańsk
Believe me! This city is not only beautiful but extremely charming. I fall in love with this. I went there on weekend December 15-16, 2018 with Helen. She is a female volunteer from Vietnam. We went to the old town, visited the museum, and walked to the top of St. Maria Basilica church by climbing 400 steps to see the whole city.
Since arriving in Szczecin, the snow has not dropped yet even though the temperature is around -1 ° Celsius. However, when the trip to Gdańsk it was quite heavy snowy. Finally, I could feel the snow for the first time. Helen and I took some pictures near the river with a view of pirates and buildings which is look like in Copenhagen. The wind was strong but we still walked around happily.
Nice and Weighty Lunch
I always had lunch with Juan and teacher in the school canteen. What's interesting for me is that there is always warm soup every day. There are also main dishes such as pasta, potatoes with vegetables, fish, chicken, and rice. I like it all. Somehow everything feels right on the tongue. That made me fall in love with Polish food. Besides being delicious, the portion of their food is quite large, it feels twice the portion usually when I eat lunch in Indonesia. I have to eat quickly since I have to continue the class.
At the end of the project at this school, the principal, teachers and children gave me a nice certificate and T-shirt that written "We All Love You Claudya" and put signatures by the children and teachers. I feel grateful they accepted me so so well. All of this are unforgettable moments of my life. I was accepted as a family, not a stranger to them.
I love being able to share with children. I really appreciate their enthusiasm, their curiosity, their efforts to learn something very different than before and their respect for new people. Big love and hug to all of you in Szczecin!
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Thanks ever so much to read my story. I would like to continue the story in the second part. Stay tuned! Please leave your comment below if you want to know more about my volunteer experiences. Happy day!
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