From Student to Experienced Teacher – Pavel Talks About His EVS Service in Poland

Last summer we have posted an announcement about a volunteering position in Poland on our Facebook Page. We received so many inquiries that it seemed impossible to choose the right person. Until we got the letter from Pavel. He knew very well what he wanted and why he was applying for this project. After the first interview with him, we were confident that Pavel would be approved by the hosting organization. And we weren’t wrong.

Now, several months later, Pavel tells us about what is to be an EVS volunteer in Poland and what is to be on the other side of the teacher’s desk.

Hello Pavel! Please introduce yourself in a few words – where are you from, how old are you, what do you do and what have you studied?

Pavel appearing in a Polish newspaper.

Greetings! My name is Pavel Novak, I’m 25 and I live in Sofia. At the moment I’m an EVS volunteer in Poland working as a teacher in a school. I’ve studied pedagogy with a concentration on deviant and delinquent behaviour. I am currently working on my PhD studies related to working with children at risk.

We already know that this isn’t the first time when you live and work in a different country. Tell us more about your experiences as a student abroad?

The duration of my EVS is 10 months – one school year. This is not my first time outside of Bulgaria but it’s definitely the longest – for now ☺. Being an EVS volunteer is a strange feeling of not being a real foreigner, I would describe it more like being a “permanent tourist”. ☺

How did you hear about EVS and what made you decide to become a volunteer? Can you tell us about your hosting organisation, what are your tasks there? Which aspects of your work you find the most interesting and did you encounter any difficulties during your project?

About EVS, I learned from previous Youth Exchanges in which I had the chance to participate. It was something I always wanted to do. That is the precise reason why when I saw the information about a project in Poland I applied without a second thought and got in touch with “Association For You”. Here I would like to add that on their part all the information was provided really quickly and in depth.

The organization I work with in Poland is „Regionalne Centrum Wolontariatu w Kielcach”, and the project’s name is “Multicultural Kids”. As of now, I’ve been in Poland for 5 months (from the 01.09.16) and as mentioned I am working as a teacher. I teach English to children in the grades from 0 to 6, or in a matter of age from 6 to 13 years old.

The most interesting aspects of my work? I would say that I enjoy the experience as a whole. For me personally, being a teacher is a pleasure in itself. And it is something I confirmed with myself in the last 5 months. My school has 1100 kids and 124 teacher- so a small one ☺. It incredibly active in regards to projects and trips, competitions and games and I’m a part of them all. I definitely feel more secure and self-sufficient in the classroom, I lead entire lessons and to be honest love every part of it.

What impressed you the most about Polish people and culture?

In my opinion, Poland is not that different from Bulgaria in regards to the people and culture. It may be that at first glance the people look “colder” and definitely more quiet than us ☺. However after a person braves to make the first step and overcome the first obstacles, he can truly find people that are ready to help, laugh and party with us. Here I must add that a good way to do this is trying to speak their language – especially in Poland that is really helpful. The Polish themselves realize how hard their language is. So that is precisely why when they see a foreigner trying to speak it are always ready to assist.

From our previous conversations with EVS volunteers, we know that they always have some strange and funny experiences, especially during the first months of their stay in a different country. Can you share some interesting stories about your life in Poland?

Most of the EVS volunteers I had a chance to speak with received a pleasant and funny list named “EVS Challenges”, which includes interesting tasks intended to make us explore the city and to get to know each other better. For example, in ours, we had a task to take 10 selfies with people with a moustache.

As you can imagine that is not a very popular look among the younger people. So in this case being able to speak English wasn’t of much help. I thought I was in luck as I know some Polish – no worries there. Yes…but no ☺. In truth, I had less success speaking in Polish than in English, on top of stopping them in the middle of the street, they could not actually understand what I was asking which only made matter even weirder- a lot of surprised looks. A look that silently asks – “are you being serious or just stupid?”. It was a good first impression if you ask me ☺.

What are your plans for the future, after your EVS project is over?

An important question that is always discussed during the duration of the EVS with both, the sending and the receiving organization is: “What’s after EVS?”. A lot of people don’t realize that being a volunteer is not expressed solely in giving and helping, a big part of it is also receiving. Receiving knowledge, skills, personal development and if I can describe it as such: “a discovery” of oneself. EVS is also pointed inwards, towards personal growth and understanding ☺.

For me, the plans for the near future are clear. Working towards my studies, and in September a trip to Kazakhstan where I’ll be teaching in a university for a while. But the long term future and related plans are a whole different topic. I have the idea and the concept but the place of their realization will be a surprise even for me I think. I know one thing though, I feel changed because of EVS. I want to travel and see all around – the world has become smaller ☺.

All the best from Poland and until we meet again ☺