Applications for LE Poland open November 1, 2018!
Tentative Dates: June 26, 2019 - July 29, 2019
June 26 - 30
July 12 - 14
- Location: Three main regions are Bieszczady, Tarnów, and Lublin
- Language Requirement: no language requirement
- Setting: Can vary from urban to rural, but the majority are rural
- Duration: Full program lasts five weeks, but volunteers only teach for four
- Volunteers: 12-15
- Living Conditions: Modern with the occasional exception of Wi-Fi/Internet connection
Volunteers with LE Poland 2019 will spend the first week of the program in Kraków with approximately 15 other volunteers. Kraków, a crucial center of Polish business, culture, and education, has a long history and a rich heritage. Kraków has witnessed many events of great historical and political significance, and volunteers will have opportunities to immerse themselves in the history of this Eastern European city as well as in Polish history and culture. Today, Kraków remains as southern Poland’s metropolis. Its growth and popularity in recent years can be largely attributed to Poland’s entrance into the European Union.
Orientation gives volunteers an opportunity to get acclimated to their new environment. In addition, orientation helps provide volunteers with the expertise necessary to teach ESL in the style of LE. The daily schedule will consist of a balance of training sessions, sightseeing, and social events. Group excursions include a tour of the old town, a tour of Kraków’s pre-eminent tourist attraction: the site of Kraków’s cathedral, Waweł castle, and a visit to the seven-hundred-year-old Wieliczka Salt Mines. Volunteers are responsible for the costs of orientation, including an organized hostel stay (about $15-20/night including breakfast) at the heart of the city, dining, and all group excursions.
After orientation, volunteers travel to their assigned towns or villages to begin teaching. Towns and villages are located in three central areas: Tarnów, Bieszczady, and Lublin. Host families will pick up volunteers directly from the train/bus station. Once with their host families, volunteers will not have many expenses (other than buying gifts for friends and family back home!), as transportation, food and housing are all provided by the host family.
After the first two weeks of teaching, volunteers will meet for a mid-point break. This portion of the program will take place in Zakopane, a picturesque town in the southern mountains of Poland, during the third weekend of the program. This break will give volunteers a chance to discuss their first impressions of teaching and their lives in their towns or villages. Mid-point break also lets volunteers share lesson plans and teaching strategies that have been effective as well as those that were not.
After Mid-point break, volunteers will return to their host families or travel to their second placement and continue to teach for the remaining two weeks of the program. The program will then conclude with our closing ceremony back in Kraków, where volunteers can reconnect with one another and exchange stories about their experience before returning home.
THE IDEAL VOLUNTEER
- Is enthusiastic, innovative, and patient!
- Is creative, quick on their feet, and able to think outside the box.
- Is excited about meeting new people, embracing a new culture, and teaching English.
- Is prepared and organized, able to lesson plan and work independently as they may be the only volunteer in their village.
- Is responsible, reliable, and communicative. The program starts the moment the volunteer is accepted.
- Is committed to LE’s mission of expanding horizons through global volunteerism
Most volunteers with the Poland program are placed in rural villages, though several volunteers may be placed in more urban environments. The towns and villages that LE volunteers live in are very picturesque, with mountains in the Bieszczady region, rolling hills around Tarnów, and well-known historical sites around Lublin. The weather during the program may vary from anywhere between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Polish summers do tend to get hot, but rarely ever humid, so be prepared for warm weather. However, there is the possibility of summer rain, so it is important to have warmer clothes as well.
Most volunteers will be less than two hours from the nearest metropolitan center and from other volunteers, although those placed in the Bieszczady region will be further from urban areas. Transportation between all villages is easily accessible. Volunteers should have no problem walking to the places where they teach—though host families might insist on driving! Each volunteer is placed with a host family. Most host families have moderate amenities, such as a TV, landline phones, and showers. Some host families have many more modern conveniences. A volunteer typically has a private room of their own; however, a volunteer may have to share a room with a host sibling. Most host families are warm, welcoming, and protective of their volunteers. They do, however, expect volunteers to make an effort to be part of the family in all ways, including helping with chores. Poles are known for their hospitality and place great importance on food. No restaurant beats Polish home cooking!
Volunteers are expected to interact with town or village life in their free time. This includes spending time with host siblings and arranging events outside of class with students. Some examples include: playing basketball with students, taking them out for ice cream, or meeting the older students to just chat at the local pub. Volunteers want to be sure to bring a bit of themselves and their culture to the table. On weekends, volunteers may travel with their host families, travel with friends, or stay in the village and bond with those around them! Nearly all host families will be practicing Catholics and will most likely attend Mass on Sunday mornings. Polish meals typically consist of soup, meat, potatoes, and salad: however, accommodations for vegetarians can be made. Volunteers should be proactive in their town/village and take the opportunity to explore life in their assigned location.
Teaching conditions vary considerably - there is no "standard" experience. Volunteers will most likely teach at a local school or community center. All students will be on summer break. Volunteers should expect to teach between 30-70 students in total and are expected to teach a minimum of 3 hours a day. Most students will be between 5 and 18 years old and range from beginner to advanced in their knowledge of English, since Polish children do have some experience learning English during the school year. Some volunteers may also have enough interested adults to conduct a separate adult class, which would most likely be held in the evenings.
Most volunteers teach at least three classes daily, one hour each, depending on the number of students and their level of English. In the past, volunteers have taught three classes from 9-12 in the morning as well as an hour-long evening class for adults. As sole leaders of their classrooms, volunteers are free to divide the students into groups and create their own teaching schedule. As some Polish students may be studying for their “Matura”, or final high school exam in English Language, they may ask for tutoring in a volunteer’s spare time. Every volunteer’s teaching experience will differ, depending on the circumstances of the school. Some volunteers might even have the chance to teach more active classes at summer camps. Despite their variety, all teaching experiences will be positive ones!
Basic teaching resources like chalk and a chalkboard are available in most villages, and computer facilities may be available as well. Art supplies also may be available depending on the location, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own supplies in the event that their location has only the basic necessities. In the past, younger students have loved incorporating games into their learning, while older students have enjoyed speaking and practicing their conversational English skills. Most students will be very eager to learn, and excited to meet a native English speaker.
SOME AWESOME THINGS ABOUT POLAND
- Poland is one of LE’s most developed and thriving programs.
- Polish people are extremely friendly and hospitable.
- There are ice cream shops on almost every corner in Kraków where you can try homemade ice cream, among other great Polish foods like pierogis and kababs
- Volunteers get to experience Polish culture, lifestyle, and religion in one of the oldest cities in Europe.
- Volunteers have the opportunity to learn about Polish, Eastern European, Cold War, and Communist histories.
Meet your Program Director, Skylar!
Skylar Clark comes from Los Angeles, California. She is currently a second year English Literature and Anthropology double major at the University of California, Berkeley. She is excited to return to LE this year as a program director for the Poland program and is eager to immerse herself in Eastern European language and culture.
Interested applicants can email Skylar at firstname.lastname@example.org.