Poland Thoughts, by Sherry Wilson
Traveling from Spain to Poland was a journey, and I could sense the students’ excitement growing as we switched from bus, plane, plane, and then finally our last bus. We were almost in Poland, on the verge of crossing the German border, and then I began to hear whispers from the students. Their excitement was turning into nervousness, and they began to worry about the details of their week in Poland. Earlier they were clapping every thirty minutes to celebrate their traveling, but now they whispered questions to each other, ”How should I greet them? A hug? Two kisses?” I told the students not to be nervous, but deep down I was nervous for them. While the students may only see me as their teacher, I am not too far removed from their roles. I’m a native New Yorker, and I’ve been living in Spain for the last two months. Six months ago I was a student just like them, and two months ago I made the dramatic change of moving to Spain. While the students worried about speaking English in Poland with their Polish families and partners, I was also worried for them. This was a complete immersion in the English language for a full week, and communicating in a foreign language is HARD. I am only a few years older than my students and I struggle with the language barrier in Spain. I had never been to Poland, I don’t know anybody who had ever been to Poland, nor did I know any words in Polish, but I was excited for a new adventure courtesy of my time in Spain.
While I was excited to spend a week in Poland, I was more interested in seeing my students utilize their English skills. As I listened to my students voice their worries out loud, I thought about how proud of them I was. The students worried about their English skills, but I was merely happy that they were so willing to step outside of their comfort zones. To be honest, I was almost in awe of these young teenagers so willing to adapt to new changes. I wish I had taken an opportunity like this when I was their age. Americans like me aren't often given opportunities to travel to other countries in order to learn about different cultures and their traditions. As a teacher, it made me quite proud to see my students adapting to Polish culture, but also making the effort to work with other students in English. While there are many differences between Basque and Polish culture, the Comenius project is an great method of bringing cultures and countries closer, especially for young students.
Views and Experiences in Września (Poland) with Comenius
My favorite part of my trip to Poland were the people I met. I was able to work closely with all of the students -Polish and Basque- and I was proud to see them adjusting so well to new changes and a new environment. Spending a week in Poland showed me how much we can learn from each other´s cultures, but also what we can learn from our students and their open mindedness to change and new cultures.