On-Arrival Training in Warsaw: IntegrART7

On-Arrival Training in Warsaw: IntegrART7


“This experience was incredibly important for all of us.” one volunteer expressed after the obligatory On-Arrival training in Warsaw. And it makes sense why!

On two separate occasions the IntegrART7 team went to Warsaw for their On-Arrival. 3 volunteers spent their time there from November 6 to November 11 while the remaining 3 were there from November 20 to November 25.

Without yet going into finer detail, the training focused on intercultural communication, preparing the volunteers for their working future and guiding them through some important rules when volunteering specifically in Poland.

In the span of the week both groups participated in various activities focused on team building, problem solving and self reflection. Additionally, they learnt a few basic Polish expressions!

And yet the question remains, why? Was it actually helpful? Stay tuned as in the span of this blog post we will answer this question!

Firstly, I would love to guide you through a summarized version of the activities we did each day on the On-Arrival. Even though the groups of volunteers had different coordinators, the things they did remained quite similar.


After arriving on Monday, our first activity was a walk in the park, literally! We walked around the park that surrounded our hotel. 

We were tasked to communicate with our fellow volunteers about various topics such as where we come from, how our name originates, what are our plans for the future, etc. It was surprisingly quite nice as the volunteers were eager to communicate with one another.

At some point we had to make different maps by standing on a specific location in relation to the others. I remember, one was about where we are living in Poland and another was about where we come from internationally.

After returning to the hotel we expressed our doubts and different uncertainties about ESC and volunteering in general. These questions got answered throughout the On-Arrival and especially at the very end.

One consistent thing that we all experienced was an overflow of food! We ate so much and the food just did not stop coming. It was quite the cultural shock eating so much and then not eating anything at all in the evening.


Tuesday was quite an eventful day as in the morning we encountered a shark attack! The idea was that the whole group needed to cross a “lake” while not touching the water. It required a lot of teamwork and cooperation.

After this activity, we spent quite some time reflecting on how we felt throughout the whole experience. It was quite nice actually. We could get a better understanding of ourselves.

Another highlight was creating Polish flashcards. This turned out to be a very fun activity as we could be creative with the words we chose while also unleashing our artistic side.

After some more activities we got around to the preparation for tomorrow’s “Warsaw exploration” task.

We got into groups and were asked to choose a few topics we would like to cover while exploring the capital of Poland. These included things like the main symbol of Warsaw, the food present in the city, asking strangers for their opinion about certain topics, etc.

We learnt how to use Google maps to form routes and improved our ability to work together.


On Wednesday we got to go to the city center of Warsaw. Our objective was to discover the general opinion about the current state of politics in Poland as well as learning about the Warsaw symbol.

We got quite lucky as we stumbled upon a highschool excursion in an information center and quickly gathered a dozen opinions. The standouts? Abortion, national division and LGBTQ+. 

After coming back in the afternoon, we presented all that we learnt throughout our journey to the coordinators and of course the other volunteers.

After this, we were told to create a sort of Mind Map together. On one ginormous sheet of paper we illustrated what Solidarity meant to us! Then we connected the drawings to other peoples’ interpretations. It turned out quite fun!


On Thursday we did quite a number of things. We participated in an International Dialogue. By that I mean talking about different topics relating to our country. This I found to be a very effective activity and was happy to incorporate into my own Workshops.

Secondly, we roleplayed difficult volunteer-related situations. Language barrier, not enough work, lack of trust in your fellow volunteers and so on. Also a very effective way of preparing ourselves for potential problems that may arise in the future.

After all of this, we were tasked with writing some questions to be answered. A Q&A basically. We wrote lots!

Because of this we finally understood clearly how Insurance works in Poland and how we should go about finding a doctor.

Another thing was playing Kahoot about the rights and responsibilities of a volunteer (insurance, vacation days, contracts etc.)


This day really felt like the end.

We talked about the different stages of a volunteering project. Those being honeymoon, culture shock, adjustment and adaptation. 

We illustrated a little man and described what could cause stress in his life as a volunteer and how to resolve that stress. It was interesting trying to imagine how exactly one feels stress.

And finally for Friday’s activities, just as we did on the first day, we walked outside and talked about various topics. This time they were more nuanced and a bit deeper. We were asked to talk about how we forge our resilience, how we take care of ourselves and our loved ones as well as the influence we would want to have on our community, our organization and ourselves in the span of this year.


In the midst of all of these activities, we also had the chance to get to know some volunteers better. That meant going out in the city, playing games together in the evening and really bonding over some specific things like art, football or maybe even our culture. 

My favorite thing was accidentally bugging table soccer and being able to play it for much longer than we were supposed to!

It was also nice going out to a Karaoke and hearing people sing songs in Polish, English and some other languages as well!

Additionally, playing in-real-life Gartic Phone is a blast and I recommend it to all groups of more than 6!


It is time to answer the question: why? 

On-Arrival training is incredibly important for the reasons stated above. You get to learn about different aspects of the culture, of the work you’re doing, all while you’re forming bonds and connections with various volunteers. 

I never really understood insurance here until I got it explained by the work coordinators for example.

Because of this and many more reasons, I am incredibly thankful to have had the chance to experience this type of event.

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