Thursday, June 25, 2015

Adventures with Arthritis

My blog has been quiet because primarily I've been quiet. As I wrote while in Poland, my right leg became very painful. When I got home I saw the orthopedics office again and was told the first diagnosis of hip flexor strain was out the window, and I have arthritis, instead, to live with forever.

That wasn't good news. The doctor wanted me to try a new med regime for control and told me it might take 2 month to know if it was working. I couldn't imagine living with that much pain for 2 months. So that very day a cortisone injection was put into my right knee. That plus a new med regime for dealing with pain has been helpful, but I'm a long way from normal.

Tonight I did a three block walk, starting to work on walking 30 minutes every day. It took me 19 minutes from the time I walked out of the apartment door until I returned. Before this I could walk a 5k in about one hour depending on how many photos I had to take during the walk. Now it is nearly 20 minutes just for 3 blocks!  I sure would like to get the leg rehabbed enough to get back to doing a 5 k walk!

So basically the blog has been silent because I've not been doing much.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Catching Up on Teaching English

The last week we were in Poland teaching English was a week with "no down time" as one of my fellow volunteers said.

While others spent the final weekend away in Krakow, I knew my leg was no up to such a trip. Just getting up and down the steps at Reymontowka was a challenge. Instead I stayed at Reymontowka and did more work in the teachers' resource room.

There was one set of shelves way back in the corner. This one contained workbooks we used when I was there in 2004 and 2006, but we don't use those anymore so they went into the trash. I find a lot of textbooks from a school district in Wisconsin that were dated in the 1970s. Since the first volunteers stayed at Reymontowka in 1991, these would have been at least 20 years old when they arrived. But the most useless thing I found were math books from the "California series" with a copyright of 1959. How anyone in their wildest dream thought bringing such books to Poland to teach English would help escapes my imagination.

On Monday we were now down to 5 volunteers. Life got exciting on the Tuesday of this week. First May 26 is Mothers' Day in Poland so those of us at Cisie School taught only one class. Then we went to the auditorium in the school for the program. First I took this picture.

Then I discovered my camera battery was dead. I am still not used to how my new camera works. Apparently even when I don't use it, the battery somehow is powering some feature and running down. I used my camera to take a couple of pictures.

The students did dancing and singing. Their performances are always excellent.

Notice the 6th graders are wearing letter jackets for the dance they did. There is a huge misconception that the only dances done in Poland are folk dances. Nothing could be further than the truth. These are 21st century kids!

We really enjoyed seeing this. When the program was over the students all returned to their classrooms and then met their mothers there to give them the cards they had made for them.

Back at Reymontowka a group of professors from many places in Europe arrived for a conference. When we returned from our morning teaching we joined them for a luncheon. Then we all went into the what I called the Great Room and all were introduced, including the 5 of us. In reviewing the program which included my name

I found there were professors from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic, and obviously Poland. The program listed research with professors from Romania and Latvia, but I don't think they were there. And the professor from Hungary was unable to attend at the last moment.

When we could excuse ourselves I went upstairs to plan my afternoon classes for the after-school program.

Then back at Reymontowka we changed clothing to dress up for a formal dinner held in the lavishly decorated tent. When I went down for the evening meal I didn't notice any of my fellow volunteers and thought I was first. I sat along side the wall waiting for others. Then one of the conference organizers came over to me and lead me to table where my fellow volunteers were present. Dorota explained this professor said to her, "This one (meaning me) is mine."

It was quite an evening meal with fancy food and drinks. The vodka was on the table along with soft drinks. Since I was taking ibuprofen I didn't drink any vodka. Once I put a picture on Facebook of a table ready for a formal dinner and people argued what was the red soda, thinking it was compote in the bottle. They recognized orange soda along with Sprint and Coke. So for this dinner I tried the red soda and found it was sparkling water with a little taste of strawberries. Very good.

Here I am at the dinner. Another volunteer took my picture but it is nice to have some proof I was actually in Poland.

The professor who said "She is mine" then arranged for me to dance with another professor and she told him to dance slow because my leg was a problem. That is exactly what it did. Another volunteer later said he was worrying about me dancing for a bit because of my leg problem. Another person took a picture of this and sent it to me via e-mail, but I've searched and searched and can't find it.

Both of us stayed at the party and watched the dancing, although later he was gathered up by Russian women who wanted him to dance with him. We enjoyed listening to the band that was playing. My fellow volunteer, who is 100% Polish background but coming to Poland for the first time,, was surprised that I could sing one of the most favorite folk songs in Poland which is as common in Poland as "this land is your land" is in the United States.

We had fun at the party. And it was amazing to see people from countries from Russia, Ukraine, and the United States all together because our governments do not agree with each other.

And a final note. In the United States many Polish-American communities spend a great deal of time teaching the Polka and doing Polka events, but I know the Polka is not a dance in Poland! It actually is a dance that started in Bavaria, which in now present day Czech Republic.  I saw proof. When the band played a polka the only person who knew how to do the Polka was a professor from the Czech Republic. All the people from the other countries danced, but did it differently than the polka steps.