Foundation Learn Outdoors – Alissa Vorobjova – 10 months volunteering in Poland
Name of the project: Foundation Learn Outdoors
Date: 03.07.2022 – 04.05.2023
City/Country: Wroclaw, Poland
Foundation Learn Outdoors is a group of teachers whose passion is practical, interesting and purposeful teaching. They believe that it is worth educating young people in the open air during trips, camping, hikes, or even on the pitch. Many topics can be explained much more easily and effectively outside than during long hours spent in the classroom. They assume that education was and still is purposeful and practical. Mathematics served the development of trade, construction and agriculture. Knowledge of nature was essential both for the survival of primitive man and for the farmer sowing the field. Only a hundred years ago, Geography, History, Art or Practical and Technical Classes were the everyday life of people who learned everything from their parents or from their peers in practical conditions, not in the classroom.
In turn, I helped the organisation in achieving this goal. My work was diverse but always involved children. It included working in camps where, alongside learning English, we all learned survival skills together (chopping wood, making fires, navigating with maps and compasses, hunting monsters, and so on). In school, I conducted language clubs for teenagers, workshops, and played with young children.
People from my organisation always supported me, so I never felt alone in case of any problems. They covered all expenses for transportation, accommodation, and pocket money.
The budget for my round-trip flight to Poland was 275 euros.
I was provided with an urban card for public transportation, which the organisation paid for every month (buses, trams).
Train trips were covered if they were related to the project (for example, traveling to another city for an event).
The organisation allocated a separate room for me in a house in Wroclaw. I had two flatmates, but they also had their own separate rooms. The accommodation was located 20 minutes away from the city centre by bus and approximately 45 minutes from the place where I worked.
On average, I received around 1200 pln per month (which was approx. 230 euro at that time).
The organisation also covered two months of Polish language lessons for me.
They also helped me with handling documents, banks, hospitals, and so on. So, I was never left alone with any problems.
During the project, I had two training sessions. The first one was online upon arrival, and the second one was after six months of the project, held in another city. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet volunteers from all over Poland, make new friends, and exchange experiences. Many of us worked with children, so we had a lot to discuss. We had fantastic leaders who were ready to listen to our suggestions or problems, provide motivation, and give ideas for further work. It was also a great chance to learn more about Poland.
I traveled a lot during that year, despite having a lot of work. However, it was possible to combine everything without much difficulty. Each volunteer has a certain number of days off per month or per year. They can be used at any time, but it’s important to discuss it with your organisation to make sure it works for everyone. I did travel more than the given days off, but I discussed it with my coordinators, and since it was okay to everyone, I was able to take a few extra days.
Sometimes I felt lonely, being in a foreign country with a different language, far from friends and family. In those moments, it was important for me not to stay alone. I looked for groups of foreigners and expats in Poland and attended their meetings. I connected with other volunteers, and we organised and went to picnics together. My coordinators were always willing to take me somewhere and accompany me as well. Despite the challenging and lonely periods, I managed!
You will manage too! Don’t give up on the opportunity to become a volunteer just because you’re afraid of the unknown. After the project, you will return home as a new person and tell yourself that you did great, you left your footprint in this world, and it was worth it!
This Project was financed by European Commission’s European Solidarity Corps Programme.