Alumni Spotlight: Virginia Glenn

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with GV in Poland?

Virginia: The first time we went because my dad found a trip in an Elderhostal list about a joint trip between both organizations. That one was full but we went on a different one that summer and loved it. It was initially a sort of "Roots" trip for my dad because his mother was born in Poland but we were so hooked by the entire process that we went back to Poland for 2 more GV trips and then another time on our own just to visit people we'd gotten to know. We also did 2 trips to Mississippi (one a leader training and one we served as leaders) and really enjoyed those as well.

Streets of Poland

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer in Cambodia.

Virginia: On our trips to Poland the main focus of our day to day activity was to work with high school students in English. They had already studied some English in school and mostly wanted to practice spoken English. Each volunteer was assigned a small group of Polish students and we would spend the mornings doing a variety of lessons. We would do some drills and dialogues and other language games depending on the language level of the students.

At break times we often met with the whole group to sing songs in English. One year we had a volunteer with a guitar and other years we had tapes for the music. After lunch and a little rest we would go on field trips with the entire group. Sometimes we'd each take our small group and practice English as we explored. Other times we split up volunteers and students and did our own things. In the evenings we had a variety of activities and discussions. One year the students requested evening presentations on different subjects - the Vietnam War, life in different parts of America, etc. Later in the evenings the volunteers often went to a nearby pub to relax over a wonderful Polish beer.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Virginia: Getting to know the people and country of Poland gave me lots of insight into my family traditions and heritage. I feel that I also have a much better understanding of global politics and economics and how people outside of the US live. Seeing Poland change so drastically after the fall of communism was amazing and to compare their development to those of other post communist countries was very interesting as well.