Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manor House Adventures

Today after the classes we went to visit the manor house in Sucha. It is being restored by the present director of Lacenski Park -- apologies to Polish readers -- an English language keyboard doesn't spell the name of the park correctly. The house has had huge restoration after the detoriation during the Communist days. It had painted designs on the ceilings of some rooms. This is a beautiful feature I've not seen in other old houses. The property now includes several other old houses moved from elsewhere in nearby Poland. All and all, it is was very interesting.

Then we stopped at a privately owned manor house. The caretaker called the owner in Warsaw and he said we could tour the house if we signed the guestbook. This is also a beautiful house. The present owner has been working on restoration for about four years. It is now nearly restored on the first floor with construction continuing on the upper floor and in other buildings on the property. It was interesting to see the blend of old and new. This house has beautiful tile stoves, and right next are Fisher-Price children's toys. Nice to see a beautiful manor house that is a home, too.

Tomorrow is our last teaching day, and alas I'll be flying home on Saturday. I'd love to stay longer!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Muffin Making

Yesterday we sang the muffin song again. This morning we were playing hangman and towards the close of the first class, I took the white board and gave them the word, muffin. When one of the children finally solved the puzzle, I asked them what a muffin was. As I guessed, no one had a clue. Then I explained we would make muffins during the second class. We drew for partners in making chocolate chip, banana nut, lemon-poppy seed, and blueberry muffins.

The kids did a good job. I'm pleased to say that no one looking at the patio now would guess it was a muffin kitchen this morning. The kitchen staff graciously helped with the baking and they were very patient with the kids running in asking if the muffins were done.

I made them wait to eat them until after the mid-morning long break, partly because the muffins needed to cool. This was the first time I had children back 10 minutes early for English class. 25 muffins quickly disappeared when divided between 7 children, 2 counselors, and the camp director.

Yesterday I got a treat as good as muffins. We spent the afternoon in one my favorite Polish towns, Kazimiercz Dolny. This week we are having perfect summer weather. Alas, I must go home on Saturday, but it is only 10 months until I come back again.

Muffin Making

Yesterday we sang the muffin song again. Today we were playing hangman and about at the close of the first class I took over the whiteboard and put in the word muffin. When one of the kids guessed muffin, I asked what it was. The kids had no clue. Then I told them we would be baking muffins for the second class. We drew slips to determine who would make the chocolate chip, banana nut, blueberry, and lemon poppy seed muffins. They had great fun mixing them up. The kitchen staff were very helpful with the baking.

While they were baking one of the children took the package for a muffin mix and pointed out it said, 3 minutes. I explained it was three minutes for the stirring up, and showed her the back where it said the baking was 16-21 minutes. I made them wait through the 30 minute long break we take each morning before eating. This was indeed the first time I had all the kids back to class 10 minutes before the end of break, but I made them wait anyway!

At lunch my fellow volunteers asked me about the muffins, and I told them the "muffines are now past tense." 25 muffins quickly disappeared when divided between 7 children, 2 counselors and the camp director.

Yesterday I got a treat, too. We went for the afternoon to Kazimiercz Dolny, one of my favorite Polish towns.

Sorry to say I must leave on Saturday, but last evening I counted on my fingers and it is only 10 months until I come back!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday and Muffin Adventures

Boy! It was Monday. The children were moving slowly. I'm starting on a muffin adventure. I found a CD called Jazz Songs for Children. It included the song: Do you know the muffin man? I thought this would be easy to learn, but then -- there aren't muffins in Poland, so would the children know what the song is about? So today I started teaching the song using the CD. The song is sung by Ella Fitzgerald and the kids really liked it. Keep tuned for what will be happening with muffins this week.

In the afternoon I spent some time fine-tuning the class for tomorrow. We made a short trip to Kotun for necessary items such as krowki, the Polish candy that I love.

This evening was the lip-synch contest. Oh, what fun. The evening ended with a short concert by a boy who was a camper at one of the sessions I taught last year. He truly is a talented musician, singer, and dancer. I hear that he is going to be a TV production. It was such a treat to see him again. The evening is cool enough that we are wrapped up in our sweaters or jackets, although the day was quite warm. Travel planned tomorrow to one of my favorite Polish destinations.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Into the Weekend Adventures

Friday at last brought sunshine! I had my class outdoors for one class. We played the flyswatter game. This involves placing cards with words on the ground about a large space. The children then have to find the called word and hit it with flyswatter to claim it and then bring it to the teacher to check that it is the correct word. I've been working on colors and shapes so they had to find phrases such as black circle or red square or green rectangle. I also tried to teach Ships Across the Ocean, but the children couldn't get the idea of running and tagging a player.

On Friday afternoon we relaxed. It was wonderful to sit on the patio and simply read. I also enjoyed watching the dance class.

The evening activity was Blind Date or as we would call it in the US -- The Dating Game. I noticed the sunset was unusually beautiful and went in quest of some photos. When I returned, much to my surprise, the tent was empty. I learned the kids had become so mischievous, that the head counselor ended the evening activity very early and sent them off to their rooms.

On Saturday at 9 AM we all set off for Warsaw. The children went to a movie and then the zoo. We volunteers went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum and then spent some time in Old Town and walking along some of the more important Warsaw streets to see buildings such as the President's Home, here also called the White House.

Saturday evening was simply a perfect summer evening. Tennis seemed to occupy a large group of the children. I learned, however, after I went to my room, the children did talk the counselors into some disco time.

Today Sunday is quiet and slow. Many parents will come to visit. I'm occupied this morning with putting together materials for at least Monday and Tuesday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kids' Adventures

It dawned upon me later today to write something about what the kids do at camp. Their day begins at 7:30 AM with a morning run. Since I think there are many late conversations and other things such as TV watching going on late in the evening and into the early hours of the morning, this does serve to get the kids going. We teach English from 9:30 AM - 1:20 PM. Then we all have the mid day meal. When we are recovered we go back to the work room to prepare the next days' classes.

During the afternoon the kids have art, dancing, sport, and theatre classes. Evening events are varied. This evening we had the traditional talent show given by the children. The acts ranged from dancing, to piano playing, to card tricks.

Today public health officials were here today to make certain the food preparation is safe. However, in Poland, the public health officials also check on the children's schedules. For example, we teach until 1:20 PM so the kids have 10 minutes before obiad to wash their hands.

Thus far the weather has been too cool for anyone to enjoy the swimming pool. However, the tennis court continues to get a good workout.

Teaching Adventures Continue

My class is now learning to say the alphabet letters in English and spell their names with the English alphabet. When I first met them they could sing the alphabet song, but then I realized they knew that by memory, but couldn't say the names of the letters in English when asked to do so. We've also been working on before and after, for in worksheets I discovered they knew the days of the week and months of the years, but couldn't do a question such as: What day is before Tuesday -- because they didn't know the concept of before and after. Today we worked a bit on opposites and I also gave them a lesson about Hawaii for that was a state that interested them.

Last evening was camp initiation. In anticipation all the new campers and volunteers were anxious about camp initiation. I encountered a group of worried girls, and said, "I did it and lived." They replied: "You are an adult." Well for this initiation, they first got their faces painted by the counselors, then had to crawl through a tunnel made of chairs, then had to eat a slice of lemon, then had to drink a cocktail made of juice, catsup, mustard, salt and pepper, then put on huge boots and carry a ping-pong ball on a spoon, then take off their shoes and socks and walk over pine cones, and then finally kiss the nose of a statue. They received a diploma showing them they had done it!

Today because the kids were so twitchy I took them for an "I see it" walk. We got to the pond and were enjoying seeing the fountain work. Little did I know, my boy students were involved in turning the water on for the fountain.

Well, the good news is that tomorrow is only two classes! The other two classes will be presentations about the states where we are from.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two Days' Teaching Adventures

I have a class of 3 boys and 5 girls. They are all from Siedlce, but go to different elementary schools, so they don't really know each other, but are beginning to be good friends. They know a lot of words, but don't know what to do with them. They also know some things by rote, but don't know what to do with that knowledge in an original fashion. We are working on becoming solid on the names of the days of the week and the months of the year, but in doing worksheets about that I discovered they didn't know the concepts of before and after. So that will be something to work on. Today I started to do the hangman game, and while they can sing the alphabet song, when they name letters they are still using the Polish alphabet, so we are now working on English pronounciation for the letters. They are a handful, but delightful kids.

Last evening was charades night, and of course volunteers were asked to participate. The charades thankfully were one word and I got lucky, drawing swimming, so I didn't have to make a fool of myself for too long.

This afternoon we went into Siedlce and met with the county governor for awhile. He is the "official" host. He is always most gracious to us. We did a bit of shopping afterwards. I renewed my supply of my favorite Polish candy, and also got some laundry detergent, so I can finally do laundry in the washing machine. After three weeks of travel, I'm looking forward to the washing machine!

This evening I took a walk up the road to see a horse stable operation that simply wasn't there when I spent a month on this road last year.

Monday, July 21, 2008

First Days' Adventures

We arrived at Reymontowka about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon. We were greeted with the traditional ritual of bread and salt which serves to tell guests that they will be fed well while visiting. This time we also were served homemade vodka, part of the upcoming wedding reception that would start about 5:30. The vodka was unusually good, but I still can't get it down with coughing! We went to obiad, what the mid-day meal is called in Poland. Then I showed everyone around the Reymontowka grounds. The rest of the afternoon was spent with unpacking and napping, as everyone else on this team had flown all the night.

Sylvia, a volunteer from Pennsylvania, and I went out by the pond about 5:45 to see what we could observed about the wesele-- the wedding reception. Guests were arriving, all dressed very elegantly. Then the bride and groom arrived in a restored 1930s covertible. Their arrival celebration included a toast with vodka and the singing of Sto Lat. Then the bride and groom shared wine together and the bride tossed the glass over her shoulder to the ground, where it broke obviously. The bridegroom carried his bride over the threshold and the party began.

Soon after we went for our evening meal. In Poland this is usually a small meal. We had all the salads, again thing elegantly prepared, that the wesele party was enjoying. We also got the same luscious dessert. Live music lasted until about 11:00 when I fell asleep. During the night I could hear CD music and people walking up and down the stairs, my room by the stair landing. I didn't sleep well, but the others slept through the whole thing!

When I got up on the morning about 6:45, the staff was busy turning the large tent over from a place for a wedding reception to a place for 60 kids to have a language camp. They had already done a remarkable piece of work, for a dance camp had only ended on Saturday morning, too.

On Sunday we did the usual Global Volunteers stuff- setting goals, describing an effective team, etc. After 8 trips this is old, but at the same time, it does serve to get everything and everyone off on the right foot. At 3:30 we all gathered in the tent for a meeting of all the students, teachers, and counselors. Dorota interviewed each student briefly to assess their English levels, and then assigned them into classes.

At 4:45 I met my class of 8 students, all from Siedlce, so I don't have to learn to pronounce the names of new towns! They appear to have good vocabulary, but now need help in learning what to do with it. So I'm guessing we will work on creating sentences. It's always a guess. By tomorrow I'll know much better what their skill level is and what they really need.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Moving onto Reymontowka

On Thursday afternoon in Torun, I went to the planetarium for the Macrocosmos show. It was wonderful. I got earphones so I could hear the naration in English. I didn't realize that astronony has grown and changed so much.

On Thursday evening I went to the Petite Fleur restaurant for the evening meal. I wasn't very hungry so I had the lobster chowder and sabayon for dessert. Both were wonderful. What made the evening memorable was that the electricity went out for about 20 minutes, and in a basement restaurant we really did dine by candlelight. Good thing they had been lit before all this happened. When I walked out of the restaurant I found the sun shining at last, so I went back and took a number of pictures, this time in sunshine.

On Friday morning I went to a salon for a manicure. Hey! that is a cultural experience too. Afterwards I got some ice cream and then a sandwich to keep my tummy full for awhile. I went back to the hotel, picked up my luggage and then took a taxi to the train station. My ticket for traveling 237 kilometers cost only 1 zloty more than the manicure. At the Warsaw train station, the escalator up from the platform area was not working. I hate walking up escalors because the rise of the steps is always too high for this short-legged person. I has wandered up three steps when a railroad maintenance worker came along and grabbed my suitcase and carried it up for me.

At Warsaw I got a taxi to the Airport Okecie Hotel, successfully avoiding the rogue taxi drivers. The hotel is such a blend of American and Polish ways of doing things that I kept forgetting where I was.

I left for the Warsaw airport about 8 AM and got organized to meet the incoming volunteers while Dorota was flying up from Krakow. Our team of 5 women plus Dorota left the airport about 12:30 and we arrived at Reymontowka about 2 PM. We were met with the usual ritual of bread and salt, but this time also with homemade vodka.

We had obiad and then did a tour of the grounds. This evening will be lively, for there is a big wedding reception here. Maybe more about that later.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Relaxing Adventures

After working 60 hour weeks especially during the second semester, I wanted to relax a bit. Torun is perfect for that.

I'm staying at the Petite Fleur Hotel. Actually my room is in an apartment building about one block up the street, and of course on the top floor. It overlooks an interior courtyard full of pigeons. I didn't know that pigeons made so much noise. That must be why my grandparents had the pigeon coop a bit away from the house!!!

The food for breakfast is gourmet. That outweights the inconvenience of the pigeon serandade!

My first evening I basically only went to a sidewalk cafe for an evening meal. I was puzzled by the English translation: sun kotlet -- in other words, sun pork cutlet. I ordered it just to see what it was. It took nearly 40 minutes for the meal to reach my table. I don't think it took that long to cook, just an indication of the pace of life here. It turned out to be a pork cutlet encased in a nalepeski. I realized the next morning when I looked at the breakfast menu that the Polish word for sweet had been translated into the English word, sun, on the menu. Anyway it was very good.

Yesterday I mostly wandered about looking at buildings and visiting churches. The churches I first visited surprised me. They didn't look like Polish churches-- much too plain. Late in the afternoon I visited St. John's Cathedral and at last believed again I was in Poland. This church is amazing. It is parts from the 13th century and is an incredible mix of styles from across the ages. As one faces the amin altar, the stain glass windows on the right side are very subdued in color. I don't think this is because they are dirty, rather a difference in either the style of the time or the available materials. On the left hand side, the windows glow with bright colores. To give another example of the mixture, there is a side altar done with African figures, almost sterotyped African figures. It is obviously more than than 100 years old. Behind it, and almost covered up, is a bright new stain glass window honoring Pope John Paul II.

Yesterday I achieved one other goal. I went shoe shopping. I discoverd in Zakopane that I have Polish feet! At home if I go into a store such as Famous Footwear, I'm lucky to find one pair of shoes that fit. When I go into a comparable store here, everything fits! My greatgrandmother may have considered herself ethinically German, but she certainly gave me genes for Polish feet!

This morning I wandered to the New Town, named New Town in something like the 13th century. The buildings there make me think of L'Viv, complete with a Pod Lwem Apetka. Found a church there that looks like a Polish church, ironically one that spent about 200 years being a Protestant Church.

I went back to the area of my hotel, love how easy it is to get there, stopped at a piekarnia and bought an orange and did some gingerbread shopping. Then I went to the Copernicus museum for the light and sound show. My final goals for the day are to go to a planetarium show and then eat an evening meal in the restaurant of my hotel. The food is supposed to me a fusion of Polish and French food. Since breakfast is so good, I'm truly anticipating an evening meal.

Tomorrow I'll have a slow morning and then take an afternoon train back to Warsaw. On Saturday morning I'll be the Warsaw airport meeting the new volunteers coming in -- helping out Dorota while she traveling from Zakopane to Warsaw. Then we will head out to Reymontowka, near Siedlce, for two weeks. One thing I'm looking forward to is the washng machine. I'm getting tired of hand laundry!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Traveling adventures -- and the kindness of the Polish people

On Saturday morning, July 12 we all left the Hotel Wanta in Zakopane, heading north. We left two of the volunteers at the Krakow domestic airport and the others at the Krakow International Airport. I stayed on the bus with the students and teachers who were heading back to Siedlce.

We stopped for a rest break at a gas station about one hour north of Krakow. Much to my surprise both the boys and girls lined up for the restroom at the same door. When I got close to the door I could see the international symbol for both men and women on the door. The restroom had two cubicles with a door that shut and two sinks. People just casually took their turn. This was surely a new experience for me -- not to mention that the gas station restroom was very, very clean.

About two hours later we stopped at a McDonald's in Radom. One of the young men approached me and said it was his job to help me. Now I can easily order what I want in a Polish McDonald's, but help me he did.

As we were boarding the bus, two girls came with big boxes of McDonald's pies. I was prepared to say no, thank you, until it became clear that no student was going to get one until pani made a choice. Hey! It was good. Now I'm curious to know if the pies are this good in the United States.

We were about 10 K from Siedlce when we rain into a severe thunderstorm. We had to wait just a bit for the highway to be cleared of fallen tree branches. I was very relaxed, because Dorota had the foresight to make my hotel reservation good until 8 PM rather than 6 PM.

It was still raining lightly when we got to the hotel. To reach it one turns off a busy highway onto a narrow side street, and then right into the hotel parking lot. Much to my amazement the bus driver backed the bus into the hotel parking lot so that I could leave the bus right by the steps into the hotel. When I said "Dziekuje bardzo i do widenzia" he took my hand and kissed it. This is a way that men honor women in Poland. And people wonder why I keep coming back. He did me a great favor and then kisses my hand!

My stay in Siedlce was just fine. On Sunday between rain showers I walked along the nearby lake and enjoyed an excellent fish supper.

On Monday I took the train to Warsaw primarily to use an Internet Cafe. It was either walk five minutes and ride the train for an hour plus or walk 40 minutes to the Internet cafe in Siedlce. Somehow it seemed easier to ride the train -- and I'm glad I did for it was a cold, rainy day. I had a very nice pasta lunch in Warsaw and then headed back to Siedlce.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I repeated the trip to Warsaw, this time with my luggage. At the Warsaw East station I boarded a train to Torun. Boarding a train with luggage is always a challenge, but this one unlike any other. The level of the train was about 15 inches below the platform. It was interested, to say the least, to jump a gap of about 4 inches and then down that far with a suitcase.

The train was quite crowded as we made our way through the Warsaw stations. A man boarded the train with his daughter and asked if he could my suitcase up on a rack so that we all more room. Proze! Now the task would be to get it down for it was higher than I could comfortably reach. As we made our way north, he said something to me in Polish. I replied that I could only speak English. Then in very good English the daughter asked where I was going. I replied, "Torun," and she said, "Torun, next stop." As we approached Torun the man got my suitcase down from the rack. Then as I prepared to move towards the door, he told me no. When we got to Torun he picked up my suitcase and walked it out to the platform for me.

Now I'm experiencing Torun. It's beautiful, and certainly a good place for a rest. Everything closes at 6 PM except for restaurants, and hardly anything opens before 10 AM in the morning.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Adventures with "Short Cuts"

My room mate wanted to go back to the John Paul Church here in Zakopane to take photos. She looked at the topographical map and said we could take a short cut by using foot paths. So we wandered through town streets, across meadows, probably through a couple of residents' backyards, got help from a man to show us the right path to the forest (rather than deadending at his yard fence), through the forest, and finally across another meadow. While it wasn't a short cut, it was a marvelous afternoon. I've not got the knees to go mountain climbing, but now I can show anyone pictures from "meadow climbing." We took a bus part of the way back to the town center and enjoyed, really enjoyed, an ice cream cone.

In the evening we had the final program -- made up of heartfelt thanks and some presentations in English by students. Then we saw a marvelous collection of pictures that captured our time year and were given a CD with all the photos.

My students found me with a gift. It is an immense coffee cup with a painting of Zakopane and all their names added to the cup. What a wonderful keepsake!

We are off now this morning, Saturday July 12, at 8:00 for Krakow. All the volunteers except me will leave there. I'll continue on the bus back to Siedlce. Looking forward to sleeping late tomorrow morning!

Singing Adventures

Yesterday, Thursday, many of the students and 6 of the volunteers took on a difficult mountain hike. This hike is so difficult that a guide goes with a group the entire way, starting in the hotel lobby, where he told them, "This is difficult and not for idiots." By the way all were successful in their efforts although by evening there were some complaints of sore muscles. The rest of us did a game class, playing Apples to Apples, Taboo, and Uno with the remaining students.

In the afternoon, I set off for another manicure. When I arrived, I found the earliest appointment would be 4:00, so I wandered down to the restaurant garden of the hotel we always went to six years ago. I ordered nalepki(think crepe with fruit, whipped cream and dizzles of chocolate) and kawa latte, sat in the sun and listened to young women play violin on the street. Then back to the salon to get fixed up.

In the evening our host school had asked us to do a session singing American songs. Most volunteers are new to Poland and had no idea how well Polish people sing. It is the tradition here to sing after bonfires and picnics. I don't think in my whole life I've ever been to a picnic in the U.S. at which people sit around the table and sing! The kids continued to be very polite about our poor efforts. Finally when we did a miserable job of teaching them Brother John, they said they knew it in Polish and sang it flawlessly in a round. Word of warning -- Polish people beat Americans hands down when it comes to singing in casual situations.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Amazing Adventure

Last evening as I was looking at the buffet table, a woman walked up to me and said, "You look like you are from Minnesota." It took me about 30 seconds to put things together. The woman who spoke to me is a alumna from my university. She graduated before I came to Metropolitan State, but we have been corresponding via e-mail for she wants to do some post-master's courses. I knew she was planning to be in Poland this summer, but when we talked, her schedule and mine didn't mesh. What a great suprise to see her.

Continuing Adventures

The days are so full and so fun that it's hard to remember where I last left off. On Tuesday we had lessons as usual. Then in the afternoon we all went up on Mt. Gulbowowka, the same place I went on Sunday morning. Again we had time to walk around, but then this time a great treat. We walked about 30 minutes to a chair lift and came down that way. The chair lift is totally silent and it as if one is floating in space. It surely is one of my favorite things to do in Zakopane.

On Wednesday again classes as usual. In the afternoon most of us headed for the nearby village of Kiry. This is where I stayed in 2002. While most walked the Dolina Koscieliska (with apologies to Polish friends for bad spelling), another voluteer and I explored Kiry. We ducked into cafes to keep out of the rain showers, including the one at the hotel at which I stayed in 2002. It was great fun to be back there again. As with everything else in Zakopane, Kiry, too has grown and changed.

Last evening we headed to the nearby wine bar for another wonderful evening. Two of the volunteers had been busy in the afternoon creating gift bags of chocolate bars and Polish music CD for all of us.

Today Thursday, nearly everyone has gone mountain climbing. For the students who stayed behind, the stay behind volunteers held a game morning. We played Taboo, Apples to Apples, and Uno. Now off to a free afternoon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The adventure continues

We begin our 2nd week with just a bit of change. A second camp is starting in Zakopane and Dorota must be with the new volunteers, so I'm the "deputized" team leader as the others are calling me. Our day begins 10 minutes before breakfast with the reading of the journals, this time long because it covers Saturday and Sunday, and then announcement, primarily about today's and upcoming events and activities.

My students are all anxious about having to write a "matura" -- a test they take on 4 subjects in order to qualify for leaving high school and earning a spot in a university. One activity is to write a descriptive essay, so I brought some photos to class and had them do that. They don't need to worry. They are doing fine now and have the whole next school year before the exam.

In the afternoon many went hiking through valleys with students. I took one of the volunteers chocolate shopping.

In the evening the students presented Polish night. They gave oral presentations about the history and geography of Poland, described the important cities of Poland with an emphasis on Siedlce, the city in which many of them live. They gave we volunteers a Polish history quiz. They also sang what we might call folk songs associated with different eras of Polish history.

As you can see we are having a wonderful time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekend Adventures

Yesterday, Saturday, 5 of us joined the students in a visit to Krakow. I, frankly, got more than I wished. Something got lost in the translation. I thought we were going to do a tour of the Wawel Castle and Cathedral at some point in the day and have free time the rest of the day. Instead a very pedantic guide met our bus and proceeded to give us the tour of everything! We started at 10:50 and went until 4:00 PM without more than a 30 second break. By the time we got to the Castle most of us were frankly too tired to appreciate it. I'm so glad I have done this before. And when I did before what we did in those hours, I spread out over two days so I could enjoy everything rather than feeling force marched. We arrived back about 7 PM meeting up with other volunteers who had gone to Auschwitz on Saturday. Fell into bed and slept hard after climbing bell towers and then down in to burial crepts and all sorts of points in between. I must say I was impressed with the good manners and grace of the students throughout this experience. There was no complaining and they did their best to translate for us.

This morning Sunday I took the funicular up Mt. Gulbawovka (spelled phonetically, but there were still some rural homes and haystacks. . It is much more commercial than I remembered, but the view of the mountain ranges are still there. Back for the mid day meal and then I walked with one of the other volunteers back to Krupowki Street to sidewalk cafe where we sat for a good 45 minutes just people watching. Now we whiz into the 2nd week.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Kids are cute!

Today is July 4 -- a holiday for most of you that may read this blog. We taught our regular classes for 2.5 hours and then did a program explaining what is the July 4 holiday. Then each of us shared something about our states. By the middle of the day it was pouring rain. Late this afternoon the rain let up a bit and I went out to the fruit stand and then also to check out a shop with nice crafts rather than tourist bric-a-brac. I ended up with a cute ceramic frog that has a tongue made with a 1 gorcz coin. When I got back to the lobby I encountered a boy and his mother who have been staying at the hotel and eating at a table next to us.

Most of the time this 6 year old has been carrying an Eeyore. Yesterday when he had something different -- a little ceramic sheep-- a very characteric souvenier of Zakopane, I asked about Eeyore. He had no idea what I was asking about. He knows the animal as an osciol -- Polish people forgive my spelling - I'm aiming for the word that mean donkey. I tried to explain to him that he was a boy but he also had a name. Eeyore was a donkey, but Eeyore was his name. Oh! Then he explained he has a hamster at home, the osciol, and now this new little sheep and the name of each one is Brut. Today when I showed him my zaba (frog), I asked if I could call him Brut. The boy said no, and explained my animals are not in his animal family! Kids are cute everywhere.

Photography Adventures

Yesterday, July 3, most of the student campers and three of the volunteers, left at 8:30 to go climb the mountain,Giewont. The rest of us walked to the area of town that has ski jumps. Much to our delight, there were jumpers out practicing. Obviously there is no snow, but as probably everyone knows there are ways to use surfaces that make the jump slippery in the summer. We could not see the landing place but thought perhaps hay or other types of padding are at the bottom. Then we walked to a branch of the Tatra Museum. Much to my delight it held an exhibition from an international wildlife photographers contest. The photos were terrific! They were also a good source of English conversation.

I walked back to the hotel with camp staff and had a bit of a conference about becoming the substitute team leader while Dorota moves onto another camp about 25 minutes away next week.

In the afternoon we walked to a market area I've not seen yet this year. What a change in 6 years, and perhaps not the best in my opinion. Six years ago it was truly native crafts. Now I'm guessing most everything is either machine made or comes from China. Also six years ago no one spoke English and now even when I ask in Polish, the response comes back in English.

In the evening we enjoyed a Polish tradition, bonfire. The traditional Polish way is to roast kielbasa and sing songs. We had enough supplies from American volunteers that each camper could make a S'More. A nice evening.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Continuing adventures

Day 3 teaching went just fine. We played a game called Talking Cards. The kids draw a card from a deck and then answer a question such as: What is your favorite book? or Describe your favorite teacher. We had a free afternoon and I wandered about in search of another English book for bedtime reading. Then I passed by a sidewalk cafe and couldn't stop myself from staying for the wonderful ice cream and a cold Diet Coke. After dinner we walked to nearby restaurant/tavern that had live mountain Polish music. All the Polish women/teachers and I had the traditional beer for Polish women, beer with raspberry syrup. Tastes better than it sounds. And is the way that most Polish women drink beer.

Often people ask "Why do you go there?" Well, perhaps my adventures now give back the answer, "Why don't you go there? " Hey, this is way fun. And I truly think better than the standard touring. After all would I ever have learned to put the raspberry syrup in beer on a traditional touring schedule with other Americans?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 2 in Zakopane teaching

The four teaching hours whizzed by. I brought a book of photos that I had taken about St. Paul and then converted into a Shutterfly scrapbook.We spent some time looking at that. Things happen mysteriously. I had photos of houses, churches, schools, and now I have one student who wants to be an architect and he is delighted to see pictures of buildings.

During the second half one of the American teens, who came with a grandparent, brought his high school year book and the 4 teens talked about how things are the same and different in their schools. We started the second half at 11:00 AM, and I was astonished when Drew looked at this watch and said, "It's 12:45."

During the afternoon many went for a lovely hike in the mountains, but I did my hiking on the Zakopane streets. To my delight I've discovered I'm in a country where my feet are right. I went into a shoe store rather like Famous Footwear where one wanders around and tries things on. In Famous Footwear I can perhaps find 1 pair that fits. I can never do the deal with half price off on the 2nd pair. In this shoe store nearly everything fits!

In the evening several us went for a long walk again through the Zakopane streets. The sun is shining again for our third day. I'm sure there will be more wonderful adventures.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Start of the Teaching Adventure

Yesterday we started our teaching days. I have three students, one young man and two young women. The young man wants to go to Warsaw Polytechnic to become an architect (if there are words spelled wrong, sorry, the spell check is working only in Polish and I get some funny results!), and the two young women are interested in economics. Two of them have studied English for 10 years and 1 for 4 years. We can easily talk.

In the afternoon the group was scheduled for a hike. I decided I wanted to walk to the shops and get some notebooks. By the time all of this was arranged the typical afternoon rain had rolled in. I did do my shopping, and then stopped at McDonald's for Coke zero with ice. This costs about $1.35. About two doors later I noticed a sign that said manicure so I followed it to a very lovely salon. They gave me a manicurist immediately. I overlooked a large window and another wave of rain rolled in. Better to spend that time getting my nails done! Walked back to the hotel and planned lessons for Tuesday. Then it was dinner time. About 8 PM some of us walked a couple of blocks to a winegarnia. My roommate has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe and knew to order Gerogian red. Oh my was it good. Back to the hotel about 11 PM and I surely slept well.