7 Months of IntegrART7: The Milestones

7 Months of IntegrART7: The Milestones

Summer is slowly but surely arriving in Kraków (honestly, it was about time!). The whole city is blooming, and with that, our motivation and creativity for some colorful projects and events are coming up. The summer months ahead also mean, however, that more than half of our project has already passed. We often find ourselves asking, “Where did the time go?!” But with so many exciting events going on, it is actually no surprise that the 7 months have felt more like 3 weeks.

So let’s maybe take a short break and recap some of our biggest milestones, shall we? It all began with the On-Arrival training in Warsaw in November and our first big common project, which was the International Volunteer Day at LO27 High School in December of last year. Both events were super enriching experiences for the whole team, and you can find more details on social media and in separate blog posts about them!

To celebrate the coziest Christmas season, Daniel played his first concert in Dworek with us fellow volunteers as special guests on a few songs. Practicing the songs at home, standing together on the stage, and receiving so much positive feedback from the audience is a feeling we will all never forget – and one we didn’t have to miss for too long!

In January, we already had the next little feature at Przegorzały’s annual carol singing concert. And who knows, maybe there are already more concerts on the way… The focus in February then entirely lay on Winter camps. For two weeks, every volunteer was engaged in the winter holiday program of their respective club. We played fun games, got creative during various art projects, learned languages, and shared our cultures, prepared quiz shows, danced, baked German Brezeln – the list is endless!

These two weeks were surely intensive and a lot of work not only for us volunteers but for the whole team of each club. Additionally, we all had to find creative ways around the language barrier to communicate with the kids. Luckily, there’s always hands and feet, help from the team, or, most of the time, just art in various forms, which transcends every barrier! After all, we all enjoyed these two weeks a lot. Working with kids is always dynamic and chaotic, colourful and creative, and most definitely never boring!

The whole March was dedicated to celebrating Poland’s 20th anniversary of being in the European Union. And since our adventure here wouldn’t be possible without that and the European Solidarity Corps initiative, we obviously had to join the city in its celebration! Every volunteer organized an event in their club to share the enthusiasm about the EU with art workshops, exhibitions, quiz shows and family games. But you know us by now – naturally, that was not all!

We also had the chance for some special features with DworekTV and Jazzkultura Radio. First, we recorded an interview with DworekTV, where we asked each other about our personal experiences with and views about the European Union. Antonia for example talked about her previous volunteering project in France and how that motivated her to explore more such opportunities. Mila educated about French protest culture while Joseph and Anastasia shared their love for Eurovision and traveling, and discussed future plans. Another interesting perspective was added by Daniel and Mihaela, who both didn’t grow up in the EU and therefore mentioned whole new aspects about their perception of things and what changed for them after moving here. I highly recommend watching the interview on the DworekTV channel on YouTube.

Daniel is already very familiar with recording and streaming podcasts, but for the rest of us it was something completely new when we had the opportunity to additionally go live on air on Jazzkultura Radio for the occasion. During the one hour podcast, we talked about IntegrART and the EU, our lives and experiences in Kraków as well as political and social topics that move us. Both the interview on DworekTV and the podcast on Jazzkultura radio were exciting and enriching new experiences for all of us. This unique opportunity to try out so many different ways to share and celebrate European culture – no matter if during family events in our clubs or through tv and podcasts – are one of the highlights of our time here and the features which make this project to special!

In April, it was then finally time for the mid-term meeting. Together with the on-arrival training, this week is an integral part of every ESC volunteer’s journey. This time we went to Toruń, which is a beautiful town located in the Northern part of Poland and one that holds a long and interesting history. For instance, did you know that Mikołaj Kopernikus lived here or that the city is famous for its gingerbread? Discovering this was obviously one part of the program. The most important one, however, was meeting so many other volunteers from all over Poland and exchanging with them about our projects, experiences, developments and future plans. We talked about how we dealt with culture shock or solved various problems at work, reflected on the impact of our project on the local community and how we wish to meet its needs even better in the future, or compared our personal values and how they influence our daily lives, work and relationships.

There was also a session dedicated to looking at “what comes next”, aka the time after our projects. Naturally, such topics aren’t always the easiest but, after all, extremely valuable to discuss. This week was an important pause after busy six months and gave us all a chance to reflect, to exchange and maybe even to redirect with new inspiration and motivation. Not to forget of course about the fun evenings we spent in bars drinking beer for six złoty, singing karaoke in all possible languages until late at night and making friends from all over Europe!

So you see, we’re definitely never bored here! Sure, these past weeks were intense, but there’s the saying for a reason: make your hobby your work and you’ll never have to work again! Behind us lays the most amazing time, but the best is yet to come! Follow us on social media to not miss any updates and new projects!

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