When I boarded a plane in early July of 2002 for my first program in Poland, I never dreamed that by the end of August 2014 that I would have completed 27 service programs in Poland. I was determined to go in 2002 for that was only a few months after the 9/11 event that had discouraged so many people from traveling, particularly by plane. I thought if the service program was implemented I was going for it was one of the best times to begin establishing friendship between countries.
I never dreamed that one of my students from 2002 would hand me his son in 2010 with the statement, “Meet your auntie.” I never dreamed that I would be standing in the Zlote Tarasy shopping center in Warsaw and have someone come up to me and say, “Hi, Lori.” I never dreamed that in 2014 one of the teachers with whom I had worked would embrace me in a good-bye hug and say, “Lori, you are our friend. When you come to Poland, you are home.”
Some volunteers like to go to many countries. I have chosen to primarily serve in Poland. I have found great satisfaction in “going deep” into the history and culture of Poland. Understanding a bit about the Polish language and culture works has helped me become better teacher of conversational English in that country.
Like many volunteers I have received more than I have given. Many students, teachers, and language camp staff have extended a hand of friendship and hospitality. I have learned a great deal about Central European history and culture. My time in Poland with Global Volunteers gave me the desire and confidence to apply for a Fulbright teaching appointment in Hungary, which I was fortunate to receive in 2010. My time with Global Volunteers had prepared me well for a long-term living experience in Central Europe and had prepared me well for being a good-will ambassador.
Lori Wedeking – 30 Time Volunteer