Friday, July 24, 2009

Week's End

The first week of teaching at this summer camp has come to an end. Last evening the students presented a Polish Night to acquaint volunteers with Polish history and culture. Then the Polish staff for this camp hosted us to a wine party after the campers' presentation. We returned to the tent to dance with the students until their "disco" ended. Soon I'll be able to dance YMCA in my sleep.

Hard to keep up on the blog when we are staying the most evenings and nights at a location about 25 minutes away that doesn't include WI-FI or other ways to access the Internet.

Hope to take some photos there later on today and will try for a more interesting posting on Monday.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to Warsaw, will stay there overnight and return from there on the same train as those volunteers coming back from a weekend in Krakow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birthday Celebration

Volunteer Celebrating His Birthday

We are in our third day of teaching. I have 9 students. They are very nice children. They know lots of English words, but appear not to have concepts attached to them. For example, they can recite the months of the year, but couldn't tell me what month included Christmas or what month was the Polish Mother's Day month. We will have to work on attaching concepts to the words they know.

One of my team mates was suprised with a birthday celebration on Monday. More news to come when I can attach photos to the news.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ending and Beginning

Mountain View
Whole camp group

We ended the second language camp on July 17. Early on the morning of July 18 we left Zakopane, arriving at Reymontowka about 4 PM. It was a hot, hot day. I found melted chocolate in my pack. After meeting the team members I went over with them to place we are staying in Kiesalany. We are in very lovely bed and breakfast. The outdoor grounds are beautiful.

Sometimes things are met to be. We are sharing this location with a French couple who are here to adopt three Polish children. One of our team members is from Montreal and so speaks fluent French. Two other team members speak some French, and I'm an international adoptive parent.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Adventures

View in the Murzasichle Hills
Morskie Oko Rafter Guide
River Scene at Niedzica
Castle at Niedzica

On Saturday, July 11, about 8 AM, I moved over to the village of Murzasichle (Mursh-a-C-kla. It is located in the hill area of the mountains, about a 20 minute trip from Zakopane. This where I taught in the afternoons during the second week of the Zakopane camp. I had just put my things in my room when Dorota asked if I would like to go to Morskie Oko. Having never been there I quickly said yes. I rode in the bus with the campers and then met Dorota with her husband, mom, aunt, and two other family members. With Dorota's mom I elected to ride in a horse carriage part of the way up the mountain. This took about 25 minutes and took us up about 5 miles. Then we walked one more mile to the lake.

Morskie Oko means Hole in the Sea and is a lake in a high mountain area. We walked about the lake and then stopped for lunch. As we began walking down Dorota asked if I had my passport. I did, so when we got down and returned to the parking lot, we drove to Slovakia to buy chocolate! They dropped me later at the hotel in Murzasichle and then returned to Morskie Oko to pick up the other family members who had elected to walk/hike both ways.

On Sunday we left early for a rafting trip to Niedzica. I have wanted to see this location ever since reading Michiner's Poland. We stopped first at the castle, where we could see the ruins of another castle across the river, Dunajec. It is truly a beautiful area and I can see why this location has always been prized by the Polish people. Then we walked onto a nearby hydroelectric dam, which gave us views from the midst of the river. Then we were off to rafting. The trip took about 2 hours, we had absolutely beautiful, perfect weather, and it was great. Most of the time Poland was on our left hand side and Slovakia on the right hand side. One could easily see differences in spelling of words and building styles when we passed villages.

Monday I taught one hour and then was taken to Krakow to the American consulate. The traffic up and back was dreadful as usual between Krakow and Zakopane. I got to the consulate at about 1:15. This is American territory so there is paranoid security in place. I gave my camera to those that had accompanied me, but still I got in trouble with something in my purse. Turned out to the digital keychain. The security is managed by Polish employees of the consulate and they had never seen one of these before. This made my arrival to the desk for service during the usual Polish obiad time. I had to wait for staff to return. Once they did I easily was able to get the papers for my house sale notarized.

On Tuesday most everyone went to Slovakia to a water park. Kasia, one of the Polish English teachers, rode the bus with me to Zakopane. She helped me get the papers send via fast courier back to the United States. Then she departed to join friends. I went shoe shopping, come back with two new pairs.

That afternoon we got my computer set up to work on WI-FI in this hotel and I began to get caught up with e-mail.

Yesterday was a regular teaching day. I spent the afternoon getting a power point ready for the traditional presentation we do about our states. That happened this morning. Sunil and Beata, two of the Polish English teachers then did a presentation about India. After we all watched the movie, Bride and Prejudice, in English with Polish subtitles. Tonight is American night. We will be making S'Mores at the bonfire.

Friday, July 10, 2009

So Long, Farewell

Yesterday was farewell here. It always amazes me how we are strangers at the start, and there are tears of parting at the end. My class and I were both about "out of gas" yesterday morning. We reviewed what we learned through this camp experience and then practiced for the presentation we would give. The students kept making suggestions throughout the planning, and then came to me to ask if they could create a big surprise. Then we walked for ice cream, but when we got to the main street, they asked, "Do you want ice cream or do you really want a big Polish doughnut?" I knew the answer was to choose the big Polish doughnut -- pascki. Then the question was my choice for the filling in the pacski. They went into their wallets, over my protest, to collect out the groschen to pay for this.

But before, while we were gathering to make the trek for ice cream, the students surprised me with a gift. It is a Zakopane T-shirt with Polish words relating to things one finds around Zakopane. They kept talking about the sacrifice it is to come here. I protested to tell them it's the best time of the year for me. The shirt fits perfectly. How they did this, I don't know, for I wouldn't know what size shirt to pick out for myself.

In the afternoon two of the volunteers and I went to the John Paul Church. I advocated that they do this explaining this is one of the treasures of Zakopane. I was glad I did for I saw more there than I ever had before. (Maybe pictures later-- in the rush of packing to move to a new location, pictures aren't downloaded.) We then wandered up Zakopane's main street, and to keep out of the rain for awhile, we ducked back into the same place as I was in the morning and had more pascki.

In the evening we volunteers wandered next door to have a drink together before the final program. The program started with one group totally surprising their teacher with an entirely different presentation than the one they had been practicing. They ended up turning over their notes to display a sign "We love you Ginny."

My students' big surprise was acting out and singing music from Shreck. At the conclusion of the individual class programs the students sang a song they had composed to thank each of us for coming. Then we settled in for some dancing time.

The students want to know if I will come back next year. I am explaining that I think that with my stay in Hungary in early 2010, I will have used up all my available time in the EU for a 12 month period. One goal is to find someone to better explain to me the Schengen regulations.

One volunteer had to leave early this morning, so I am up very early, have sent her on the way to the Krakow airport with the camp director. She wasn't expecting breakfast this early, but there it was for her. We sat and talked and decided the difference between Poland and some other countries in Europe is the warmth of the Polish people. In another country, one might have received breakfast, but here it is as if a friend does this for you; it doesn't feel like a business relationship.

I'm expecting a ride over to my location for the next week at 8 AM. Need to get back upstairs to do the final packing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Random Adventures

I've been more than a little busy these past few days. I got up on Saturday morning to find our team leader, Dorota, stunned. She had just learned that 5 volunteers, all from one family, were not coming as volunteer teachers for the language camp beginning that day. She asked if I would consider teaching there too. Thus I cancelled all the personal travel I had planned for the week of July 11, and have been doing double duty since Monday, July 7th. Also on that day my group increased from 6 to 11 students because 3 people on this team stayed for only one week. I teach in the morning, and then am transported about 25 minutes to the location of the 2nd camp and teach there in the afternoon.

I'll be moving there on Saturday when this camp ends and staying for one week. This location seems remote even though it is very busy with many, many tourists. After three days I've yet to find the post office and the bank-o-mat. The new hotel is pictured here with this entry.

On Sunday I went with this group of students to Krakow, but spent the day bumming around alone, doing things I've missed on other trips. One thing that intrigues is religious art. I read a thesis last year that the religious imagery changed in the early 15th century as a way to convince the common people that they were obligated to fight for the kings and other rulers. Poland has old, old, religious imagery. The photo is one that shows paradise, rather than Christ suffering-- the view that became more prominent.

Finally, a group of our present students goofing around. I told them I had been to Poland one, two, three, four, five, and now six times and they had created a new experience. They all cheered. These kids are absolutely the greatest. I'll surely be sad to part with them on Saturday!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Continuing Adventures

Here is a picture of our team for the first langauge camp in Zakopane. Three of them left this morning so beginning on Monday we four remaining will have larger classes. We received bad news, too. A second camp is beginning today in a village near Zakopane and a family of 5 from the US cancelled out because one became so ill that she is hospitalized in London. I'll start working, too, with the second language camp and will cancel all my personal travels between July 11-17.

The prize medal comes from the trivia contest the students did for the volunteers. I answered the tie-breaker question -- who is the premier of Poland? I knew it was Donald Tusk. The medal is an example of the art work Polish kids do all the time. It's too bad we somehow give American kids messages that they cannot draw!

Adventures elsewhere-- All my property in St. Paul sold within four days. With the recent housing market - who could believe this would happen? Papers are coming that need to be notarized. This is a foreign process, something not ever needed in Poland. I had it worked out, possibly, to do this with the consulate office in Poznan. So I said the "cost" of doing the extra language camp is that someone will have to help me get this done somehow elsewhere!

If the Zakopane weather cooperates, I'm going up the mountain today-- on the lift! I'm the only volunteer in Zakopane today, others leaving for the US or visiting in Krakow. It's nice that Dorota is so confident about my ability to manage alone in Poland that I can run around alone without anyone worrying about me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Visiting the Museum

Today my students and I visited a nearby museum that has an exhibition of art created by children. Here are examples of what we saw in a style that very much intrigued me. How is this English class? I asked each to select something to describe to me. For example, in this picture, the student knew parachute, but didn't know we call this sport parasailing in English in the U.S. We returned to read a story about learning from an elephant about finding one's center and then discussed how we each do this for ourselves. This should give readers an idea of the level of English that the students speak and comprehend. We finished with singing Polish songs and now I must go an do my homework in reviewing the lyrics to one so that I can sing it in Polish later this evening.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

News from Zakopane

It's Day 3 already. We've finally been able to solve the WI-FI problem in the hotel. On Sunday when I walked to the main street in Zakopane I found these elephants on display. They had something to do with Poznan where I'll be going later in July. I couldn't quite make out what this was all about and planned to take my students along to translate for me. However, yesterday they were gone so it remains a mystery. Instead the area has turned into an outdoor movie theatre, and perhaps on Friday night I'll walk down to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding!

I have a wonderful group of 6 students (12 next week). We been reading from the book, The Latehomecomer, reviewing phrasal verbs, and writing descriptive essays. They all have a very excellent English vocabulary and write very well in English, too. Conversations flow from global warming to the problems in the Ukraine now that the Tartar people who were banished to Mongolia are beginnning to move back. Today we walked along the main street in Zakopane, and I asked questions. I now know that wstep wolny means something is free. That's a good phrase to know.

Monday afternoon was very rainy and not a good day for hiking, so in the afternoo we all went for a very long bus ride up in the mountains. Some of the mountains are still have some snow in the valleys, something I don't remember from last year. Yesterday afternoon, I got my train tickets for next week's adventure. Dorota and I also searched many grocery stores trying to find marshmallows, something very hard to find in Poland. We had success finally. Last evening many of us walked over to a nearby church and enjoyed a concert by a high school choir from England. The singers seemed to be delighted with their reception. I think they were unsure about what to expect.

The food is wonderful. For me, it's enjoying old favorites like pickle soup, while all those new to Poland look at this with wondering. Hope the Internet speeds up so I can write something more interesting another time.