Hey, this is Ondra from the Czech Republic with the final article about my volunteering in Our Good School in Katowice.
The begginings are always a bit difficult and it was the same for us volunteers who decided to leave their home in the covid time to seek a better fulfilment of our lives than sitting behind the computer screen. However, the whole autumn and winter were affected by all the quarantines; I am positive that for majority of us received more professional experiences than they would have while staying in their country.
My long-term project was for 11 months, out of which I stayed 2 months in the Czech Republic due to the quarantine and my entrance exams for the university. Even though my project was a bit shorter, in the school I managed to build strong relationships with the children and the teachers. What helped me a lot was a school event to welcome new pupils in the school where I was taking photos with my Canon camera. After that, I had many opportunities to capture a normal life of children in the school. Once I brought printed photos that I took to make an exposition in the school corridor, after two weeks I gave those photos to children. More than 250 people saw the gallery from final day of school celebration. So, I feel like those photos might have made some impact on the life of people in the school.
I would say that my position in the school was somewhere between pupil and teacher. I didn´t have as much responsibility as a teacher and at the same time I played with children, spoke with them and tried to cheer them up. I was especially with second class called Olchy (year 8-9), their teacher Agata could speak fluently English and was incredibly passionate about education. I learnt a lot from her problem solving inside of class and she gave me insight into Montessori education system. She asked me if I am staying for a second year in the school because the pupils were so sad when they heard I am leaving the school and they told her I was here before she came to the school. I was happy to hear this as I reciprocate their feelings and I will miss a lot all of them. The school has been definitely a highlight of my volunteering stay.
Another part of my project was learning the Polish language, which I managed pretty well as at the end, I can have a normal conversation with native speaker without them having to adjust to my level.
I learned the language by talking and listening to the children in the school. After approximately three months, in my head I started to create polish sentences. The similarity to my language was also helpful and in my free time at school, I used to read polish books. I was also passionate about writing my articles and reflections about the project, making videos is another of my hobbies. Therefore, overall I was very satisfied with my working experience inside of this EVS project.
In the end, I would like to mention my life with volunteers from different countries inside of a big flat which wasn´t always easy. I found out that making friends is more difficult than I thought and it depends on our cultural background. I spent my time by traveling with different types of people and met for us exotic cultures of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. If you plan traveling to Poland, I recommend you to go to the amazing sand beaches on the Baltic shore, or the mountains in the south. As for cities, I like the best Wroclaw and Gdansk. For now I have seen almost the whole Poland and I am looking forward for visiting more countries outside of Europe, for example Georgia or Mexico where I have my friends. Concerning my career, I will continue to study at university in Brno.
Ondra, volunteer from Our Good School in Katowice
(the project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps)