I wanted my twin 17 year old daughters to do some voluntary work during their summer holidays. Teaching English at Reymontowka in Poland was something that I thought would be challenging yet achievable given their ages.
From the minute of arriving we were made to feel appreciated, like honoured guests. During our time there we were treated to performances, by the children, showcasing Polish culture through song and dance. I would say we learnt as much about the Polish culture as they did English.
We were part of a group of five non-native speaking volunteers (we are British and our two co-volunteers were American). None of us had any previous teaching experience. However, there was a resource room full of learning material, games, books etc which made the lesson planning easy. We were left to ourselves to decide what to teach our groups relevant to their ages and abilities. The afternoons we were free to explore, lesson plan or watch the activities laid on for the youngsters.
The children gravitated towards my daughters (being closer in age to them) and, of course, my girls knew all the words and dance moves to current pop songs which helps. It made my daughters feel very special. The age range of the children was 8-11 years. The majority of them really wanted to improve their speaking ability though I was surprised how much English they already knew. They were definitely not beginners.
We were genuinely sad to leave at the end of our two weeks. Not only did we learn about a country I had never thought to visit before but we were shown huge respect and friendship from all whom we encountered. We had the opportunity to visit Warsaw during our weekend off and flew to Krakow at the end of our volunteering for an extra few days of sightseeing.
On a personal note I was delighted to accompany my daughters (in fact I needed to as they were under 18 years old). I could see by the end of the two weeks how they had grown in confidence and belief in themselves. We left with many happy memories.