My last day in my village was spent playing with my host family’s dog, eating lots of Polish food, watching the Olympics with my host family, packing, and shopping. But as I took my favorite walk at dusk with my host brother and the dog, I thought of something my mom always tells me: “Life is tough, be tougher.” This challenging experience has made me tougher, but at the same time I have more clearly recognized the significance of hospitality, giving, sacrifice, and trust. I am so thankful for my school with its interactive whiteboard, organization and of course, an English teacher who has become one of my good friends, and one of my favorite Polish people.
I imagined volunteering to be an experience for me to hone teaching and communication skills, and a chance for me to travel. However, I have been surprised by something else. While I came here to teach, I found happiness in little things in Poland like the village countryside, amazing food, success in the classroom, and jokes between my host siblings and I. I have also experienced the pain of missing home, of leaving my normal life. Leaving my life in America has taught me to look fear in the face and punch it.
Saying goodbye to my families has been incredibly hard throughout these past seven weeks. And I had to say a lot of goodbyes.I hope one day to come back to Poland and see everyone who has impacted my life here.
My walks to school, anxiety about teaching, weekend visits to Krakow, and conversations with my favorite Poles have been parts of my summer here. Hail storms, too much food, and everything I have experienced cannot be listed on a blog, there’s too much. The people I have met, and who have showed me, above all, kindness and the importance of family, are what I cherish most about Poland.
– Lexi Pollard, Poland ’12