Portia, Poland II

Fat Thursday, Flowers & Garden Gnomes – Portia King in Poland Pt2


It’s been another fun filled and busy month – it’s crazy how fast it’s gone. Our group of volunteers (‘The Gapfam”) all met up in Wroclaw, in southwest Poland, for one weekend. I teach from Monday to Thursday so having three-day weekends makes it easy to travel.

One of the main attractions in Wroclaw is the approximately 300 miniature statues of dwarves, that look like garden gnomes, in different poses dotted around the city. We spent many hours wandering around and managed to find 20. Some were sitting down watching TV while others were hanging off poles.

Of course, it isn’t a Polish town without an Old Town and some churches to visit as well.
Another weekend, my host family took me to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews which opened in Warsaw last year. It was a very interesting museum, full of so much history and the visuals and interactive technology like touchscreens really gets children and adults involved.

I have settled into my school timetable, helping with 15 English classes and two French classes per week. Having studied French through high school, I’m glad to be helping the students in class and maintain my French speaking skills at the same time. I’m not complaining about making crepes in class either.
In the past week of English classes, I have been helping on the judging panel for each year group’s English singing contest. The variety of classes I work with means I never get bored. One class will be spent listening to advanced English book reviews, and the then the next, I’ll be playing English games like Simon Says with the younger children.

I intend to study geography at university so I have been joining two geography classes per week with the year 5’s and 6’s.
These classes are normally in Polish of course, so I have really appreciated the geography teacher including me in her classes. She makes an effort to learn the necessary geographic terms in English, which isn’t easy for her or the children. I have learnt about mammals, parki narodowe (national parks) and landscapes.

My favourite Polish tradition I have experienced so far is Tlusty Czawartek, also called Fat Thursday. This last Thursday before Lent is an excuse to boast about how many Paczki (large, Polish-style filled doughnuts) you ate! Teachers carried trays and trays around the classrooms for the children and there were even more in the staff room.
I managed to eat seven, which isn’t very many considering some people eat dozens.

Another tradition I really admired was how the men in Poland show appreciation on International Women’s Day. The entire city was full of florists set up on every street corner on the days leading up to Women’s Day. The majority of men get flowers for the women in their family. I got some for my host mother, and received some from the rest of the family as well, which was lovely. This is definitely a tradition we need to start in New Zealand.

Now, I’m staying in Warsaw until Easter to save some money and expore this beautiful city I live in. Over our one week Easter break I will be exploring Prague, Czech Republic. Now the snow is gone, it’s a great time to explore both of these cities by bike on a sunny day.