It was a rainy morning when I arrived at the meeting point for the beginning of my Angloville program departing from Krakow. We were set to go to a hotel which I still cannot pronounce called Modrzewiowe Wzgorze, yeah it’s a mouthful for a native English speaker. There was a junior and Kids program happening so there were a lot of people arriving together by coach as the coordinators were busy organizing everybody’s rooms I waited patiently introducing myself to the other volunteers. Other first-time volunteers and I were excited and curious to see how this next week would pan out.

First Day

The first day is an introduction and some icebreaker games with the juniors that we will be spending the next five days teaching. Each junior is very different, when part taking in my first one to one conversation I tried to respond to each one’s level and shyness. I talked to two girls who both seemed very quiet and very sweet occasionally they would confirm meanings with each other in Polish, perhaps more comfortable in their mutual struggle. In these cases, I tried to interject to ask if I can help, it’s important to make them feel comfortable enough to make mistakes and ask for assistance.

Standing together with the other volunteers as we begin our ice breaker games there’s a positive atmosphere, it’s like I can feel that everyone I am standing with is preparing to put their best effort into making this week worthwhile for the juniors who stand excitedly or nervously awaiting instruction. Straight away you can see some of the more outgoing volunteers testing how far they can push the kids out of their comfort zone, with so many different personalities it’s refreshing to see the different dynamics of conversation that manifest and how each child responds to them.

As relaxed as the teaching is during the week you can see both volunteers and participants working hard to make each activity or conversation memorable and productive. Individual moments in which you see this genuine endeavour is really my favourite part of the Angloville Experience!

Last day

After spending so much time together, everyone becomes so comfortable with each other, by the last day there is closeness that you feel that everyone has all been through this experience together.

I really didn’t notice the lead up to the last day, with the daily schedule I had gotten into such a routine of conversations and games that the inevitable end, although I knew it was coming, still somehow seemed unexpected.

On the first day you really don’t anticipate how moved you end up being by all the moments you share and the growth you see. There is a sort of urgency in the juniors on the last day, they don’t want this to end. Taking selfies and reliving the memories and ongoing jokes from throughout the week, it really makes you think about the effect you can have on someone’s life when you volunteer for something like Angloville. As a volunteer I find myself randomly remembering certain moments or conversations with these juniors that I shared a week with and these passing poignant thoughts always bring a smile to my face.

My advice for your first day would be to relax and let the day play out, follow the schedule and be yourself to the juniors. This week is a blank canvas and you get from it what you put in, Angloville has a structure with room for spontaneity and improvisation so take advantage of this opportunity.

My last day advice, take pictures give hugs! Make sure if you thought something nice, productive or special about somebody, say it to them. However insignificant it may seem that thought has potential to instill confidence or give validation, it has no use swirling around your head so share it!