Let’s just say my “internship” experience in the Czech Republic didn’t go very well. If you read my first blog post, you’d know the story. Anyway, let’s talk about the good. I was looking for opportunities because I still had 2 months left in Europe. I was pretty determined to do something interesting to cover my bad experience. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Angloville!
Basically, Angloville is the biggest provider of language immersion programs in Central – Eastern Europe. So how does it work? They get native English-speaking volunteers who are tasked to engage the program participants in conversations, so as to improve their English. In exchange, the volunteers get free accommodation and food.
The fact that they were looking for native English speakers from specific countries didn’t stop me from applying. English is my second language so I thought I had a chance. It’s very very cliché, but there’s no harm in trying. Well, in that context. Haha. I also checked reviews and was pretty impressed. I thought Angloville was a very good program. However, I told myself not to expect anything if ever I got accepted. Lesson learned, you know.
I filled out the application form for the Angloville Junior Program in Poland on their website and eagerly waited for an email response. Because I had no solid back-up plan, I hoped they would get me. And surprisingly, they did!!! I was so excited!
I met the other volunteers in Wrocław; they were from the UK, US, and Canada. We had a free city tour, and man, was it lovely. It was my second time in Wrocław and it easily became my favorite city in Poland! I’ll let you know why in another post. 😉
The next day, off we went to the Angloville venue in the countryside!
Those 7 days (February 7-13, 2016) in Angloville were pretty intensive, undeniably fun, and life-changing for me. There were a lot of talking, sharing, thinking, and moving.
Speaking sessions were not solely about helping the participants improve their English. They were more about opening up, sharing what you know, and learning things from the perspective of another. It was about realizing that despite our differences, there is something that connects us.
Group activities/games/socials were not only about playing. They were more about making things work as a team, creating strategies as a team, and of course, having a good time as a team. P.S. They were also about learning something fun from a different culture! (e.g. Scottish dance – so sad that I missed this because I got sick. But I did learn another, Belgian dance! It was so much fun!!!).
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were not only about enjoying Polish food (I miss pierogi ruskie and żurek so bad). It was more about sharing lovely stories, laughing over silly things, and connecting deeper and deeper. Conversations start naturally. Connections form naturally.
And here are some photos from our mini field trip..
During my last night in Angloville, I was in the kids’ room with some of the closest friends I made. We played games and ended up talking about society and life. It was a pleasure to be surrounded by inquisitive, creative, and smart individuals. Unforgettable scene.
The Last Day
And the last day of the camp came. The Polish participants delivered the presentations they prepared a few days back with the help of their mentors. They were free to choose whatever topic they wanted to talk about. Such an enjoyable time listening to all their presentations!!
What was my role as a mentor? Be there and show support. I had to help my mentees realize their potential, and make them believe they are capable of doing something they maybe haven’t figured out yet. I was there to help them come out and bloom, and if they weren’t ready to do it just yet, I had to let them know that it’s okay, that their time will come.
After the presentations and our last lunch (<///3) came the awarding of certificates for Polish participants and Angloville volunteers. When I heard my name being called, I felt a big sense of fulfillment. People were cheering on me. It was such a rewarding moment knowing that even at one point in my life, I made a small but positive impact on other people’s lives.
Because Angloville was not part of the plan, I wasn’t able to bring anything special to give my Polish friends. Instead, I gave them letters and things I had with me – my favorite beanie, my little black dress, and Philippine souvenirs I had left.
It was a super emotional farewell for me. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I was crying like a baby (Thanks, hormones?). Maybe I got so attached to the people I met that I didn’t want to say goodbye. Maybe I discovered something beautiful that made me want to stay…
What Angloville really is
As a volunteer, I must say that doing Angloville was not as easy as it might seem. Not everyone was open. Not everyone wanted to talk in English. I had to be clever and devise ways to engage the participants, especially the younger ones. I had to make them feel that I was there not because I was tasked to, but because I wanted to. I was a friend more than anything else.
Angloville is not just an English camp. It’s a special kind of cultural exchange. It gave me the opportunity to build significant connections with interesting people from different parts of the world. And with the diversity of people I met, my mind was then again opened to a wider view of the world.
Angloville pushed me to do better, to think out of the box, and more importantly, helped me believe how I could positively impact other people.
I must say that my experience made me more patient, open, and understanding. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that is nothing short of amazing.
Ross, Milena, and Maciek, thank you for letting me be part of the Angloville family. Sending my love all the way from the Philippines! ♡
Note: I did Angloville for a week, their usual schedule. However, they allow volunteers to do it for more than a week/every other week and whatnot. As I’ve mentioned before, I still had a lot of time in Europe. I wanted to do Angloville for more than a week, but unfortunately, there were no more slots available in the other dates. So what did I do for the rest of my stay in Europe? I ended up staying in the Polish countryside, reflecting about life. Haha