ESC #activeEUROPE 2019-2020

Duration: 10 months (01.09.2019 – 30.06.2020)
Venue: Szczecin, Poland
Funded by: ESC Programme, Polish National Agency
Hosting Organisation: Association Polites and local kindergarten, schools and other partner organisations
Volunteers: 16 volunteers from various countries in Europe and the Caucasus among which, two from Germany

The long term EVS project #activeEVS is concentrated on developing 8 key competences while doing various volunteer activities like working with kids, supporting the work of Regional Volunteer Centre and local nongovernmental organisations.

The aim of the project is to gain and strengthen mentioned competences and to promote voluntary service as an interesting way of spending free time. During this time the volunteers will be presenting their culture, country, ideas and creative approach in organising activities for kids, youth and local community. They will have a chance to participate in many workshops that will help them develop the skills in working with kids, will show them the basics of project management, Social Media, volunteering and active participation. The inception workshop at the beginning of the project will prepare volunteers to work in the chosen area, which could be kindergarten, middle school or NGO office – depending on the specific placements, as follow:

EVS placement at the Kindergarten: The volunteer supports the staff in taking care of the kids and teaching basic skills such as personal hygiene and social skills, teaches basics of the native language, organises and leads activities designed to promote physical, mental, and social development such as games, arts and crafts, music, and storytelling.
EVS Placement at the Middle school: the volunteer organises classes for students about language, culture and traditions of various countries in the UE, supports pupils in learning foreign languages, carries out various activities about the EU, helps in running a school radio and broadcasts music, trivia, cuisine and culture of a given country, activates pupils in sport.
EVS Placement at the office of the Association Polites: The volunteers support Regional Volunteering Centre and its programmes Big Brother Big Sister and Emergency Teaching, administrates our Facebook page and blog, prepares posters and flyers, promotes the idea of EVS, writes reports, organises courses of native language, workshops and cultural events.

The European Intercultural Forum e. V is sending 2 volunteers from Germany to this project: 1 hosting in a Kindergarten and 1 hosted in the middle school.

Pictures of the activities of the ESC volunteers in Szczecin

Testimony from Isis, hosted at the Middle School

Since the middle of October, I have started to work at school; what I did before I wrote in my last report.
At school we mainly have three tasks: To give presentations, to make posters for the topic of the month and to help out in Świetlica.
So far we have mostly been giving presentations in the English classes. We started off with one about ourselves so that the students get to know us, and then we continued with the topics “How to be a good friend” and “What you can learn from seniors”. Our goal is mostly to have the students get in touch with English and convey general ideas, and not to give a lecture about specific facts. This is why our PowerPoint is based on pictures, and we do a lot of activities to try to directly interact with the students as much as possible. Right now we’re giving a special Christmas presentation that only consists of vocabulary and holiday activities, like playing Bingo and crafting a Christmas tree that’s decorated with what we are wishing for for Christmas.
Even though the presentations are mostly the same, each class is different and it is a lot of fun to work with the students.
Once a month we make posters about topics like “Cybersecurity” or “Christmas in Great Britain “. They are put up in the hallway for every student to see and we try to make them as simple as possible so that hopefully every student can understand them, no matter their level of English. Coming up with ideas for the posters and then designing them is one of my favourite things to do.
The last thing we do regularly is helping the teachers at Świetlica, a place where the smaller children go when they don’t have classes. There we just try to do whatever we can, often we help the kids with crafting. It is amazing how many different things they do every day and it is nice to spend some time that reminds me a bit of a kindergarten, just being there and playing with the kids.
If there are special events we also get to help with organising them and carrying them out. This way we were part of a charity event all about ecology, and “Forum Wolontariatu” which is about volunteering. I really like these events because I can learn what it takes to do things like this. I could already put what I have learnt into practice when organising a costume party at POLITES and giving a workshop about St Martin’s Day in Germany.  

In der Schule haben wir hauptsächlich drei Aufgaben: Präsentationen halten, Plakate für das Thema des Monats erstellen und in Świetlica mithelfen.
Bisher haben wir meistens Präsentationen im Englischunterricht gehalten.  Wir haben mit einer Vorstellung von uns begonnen, damit die Schüler uns kennenlernen können, und sind dann mit den Themen “Was macht einen guten Freund aus” und “Was man von Senioren lernen kann” fortgefahren.  Unser Ziel ist es vor allem, die Schüler mit Englisch in Kontakt zu bringen und allgemeine Ideen zu vermitteln, und keinen Vortrag über einzelne Fakten zu halten.  Aus diesem Grund basiert unser PowerPoint auf Bildern und wir machen viele Aktivitäten und versuchen so viel wie möglich direkt mit den Schülern zu interagieren.  Momentan geben wir eine spezielle Weihnachtspräsentation, die nur aus Vokabeln und Weihnachtsaktivitäten besteht, wie Bingo spielen und einen Weihnachtsbaum basteln, der mit dem geschmückt ist, was wir uns zu Weihnachten wünschen.
Obwohl die Präsentationen größtenteils die gleichen sind, ist jede Klasse anders und es macht viel Spaß, mit den Schülern zu arbeiten
Einmal im Monat machen wir Plakate zu Themen wie “Sicherheit im Internet” oder
“Weihnachten in Großbritannien “. Die Plakate werden auf dem Flur ausgestellt, damit jeder Schüler sie sehen kann, und wir versuchen, sie so einfach wie möglich zu gestalten, damit hoffentlich jeder sie versteht, unabhängig von seinen Englischkenntnissen.  Es ist eine meiner Lieblingsbeschäftigungen, Ideen für die Plakate zu entwickeln und sie dann zu gestalten.
Das Letzte, was wir regelmäßig tun, ist, den Lehrern in Świetlica zu helfen. Świetlica ist eine Art Betreuung zu der die kleineren Kinder gehen, wenn sie keinen Unterricht haben.  Dort versuchen wir einfach, zu tun was wir können; oft helfen wir den Kindern beim Basteln.  Es ist erstaunlich, wie viele verschiedene Dinge sie jeden Tag tun, und es ist schön, etwas Zeit zu verbringen, die mich ein bisschen an einen Kindergarten erinnert, einfach da zu sein und mit den Kindern zu spielen.
Bei besonderen Anlässen helfen wir auch bei der Organisation und Durchführung von Veranstaltungen . Auf diese Weise waren wir Teil einer Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltung zum Thema Ökologie und des “Forum Wolontariatu”, bei dem es um Freiwilligenarbeit geht.  Ich mag diese Ereignisse wirklich, weil ich lernen kann, was alles hinter solchen Events steckt. Das Erlernte konnte ich schon anwenden, als ich eine Kostümparty in POLITES und einen Workshop über den Sankt Martins-Tag organisiert habe.

Testimony of Mathis, hosted in a kindergarten

It’s Christmas time:
Being asked to give an overview or a summary of my time in ESC and #activeEurope in POLITES, the reflections somehow mirror those from last month. The travelling phase was prolonged for a few weeks and then, I began settling.
It was a mixture actually. Meeting one friend from my pre-Poland experience showed me that I didn’t exchange my personality but rather gained, without a loss of the former one. I can still relate, I still am who I was.
I was also very fortunate to meet volunteers from my on-arrival training again in Kraków.
There, the first snow of this winter appeared. It was the first of December. I went to Auschwitz. This reflection though will be taken on in a different setting, not this one.
Being back in Szczecin, all sorts of events were awaiting me. Galas and parties on the issue of volunteering, Christmas parties with us as a volunteer family of #activeEurope, and,  on several occasions in Kindergarten. It made me realise how close I really am with the other volunteers, with my kids and with the staff at kindergarten.
Time alone, good time with friends, made my experience this year’s Christmas time more present than ever before.
We all spent quite a lot of time thinking about, while creating presents and surprises for our loved ones, in and outside this project.
We cried and we danced; we had it all throughout this month.
If I may highlight one moment though:
One week after Saint Nick’s Day a group of my kindergarten went to a school for disabled people. I was fortunate to accompany this group. To see the pedagogues and teachers, everyone really, to work with the kids out of love and give it a very special dignity. I was moved.
Without further ado, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.