Hej! or Część! As we said in Poland ? I am Bora, 19 years old, and I recently completed my 7-week volunteering in Rzeszów, Poland. Rzeszów (Jeşuv) is a small city by our standards. Still, it is the largest city in the southeast region of Poland and the southeast Ukrainian border and also the capital of its voivodeship. It has a population of 200,000, but it has too many opportunities in every sense compared to its population.
My host organization was Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”/ International Projects Association “INPRO”. The organization organizes local youth events such as Open Cafe on Wednesdays, Youth Club on Mondays, and, finally, youth festivals at the end of each team’s volunteer project in order to introduce and socialize local people with new cultures. Open Cafes are regular meetings every Wednesday in Rzeszów’s Urban Lab with volunteers and local people, where we freely discuss any topic of interest, participate in icebreakers, brainstorm on a topic, games, discussions, and debates.
I had just started university, and the first semester of my school was on the internet, so I was applying for projects to do stuff this semester, and I found this project through Pi Youth Association. After being accepted to the project, they agreed to be my sending organization and they were very interested before and during the project. My roommate André once said this about these projects, “At first I thought they were scams because they were TOO GOOD to be real.” I thought the same thing but thought, “What do I lose if I apply?” and wrote a motivation letter, created a CV, and applied for his project at 4 am. I thought, “Is it worth doing this at this hour?” and after a while, I got an e-mail like this: “Invitation: Volunteering in Poland”, we had a meeting with the host organization, and a week later, they informed me that I was accepted, so my 7-week Polish adventure started!
My next step was to make the necessary items and plan. I already had my passport, where should I buy a plane ticket? What would the weather be like? Will my school allow it? Everything went well, and I finally got on the plane from Antalya on February 5th. I live in Bursa, but I chose Antalya for the flight because it was cheaper for me, and the program paid for all my transportation expenses from my home to my accommodation in Rzeszów.
During my project, We, 15 people from 10 different countries, stayed at a railway station together. Railway station? What? The organization I went to uses a part of the Rzeszow Train Station (Rzeszów Główny for us ?), both the office and the “hostel” we stayed in were at this train station, and we were moving from one room to another as if we were going to the office. We were 2 or 3 people in the rooms we stayed in. My roommates were Italian Filippo and Portuguese André.
Throughout the project, I prepared a workshop about Youth Opportunities, ESC, and Erasmus programs, took part in the preparation of our festival, went to Polish high schools, and informed the students about our event with other volunteers; I hosted the festival. And with Açelya, who volunteered with me (hello to her, I’m sure you are reading ?). We made a presentation about Turkey at our festival. We prepared a Turkey corner; I prepared my own individual project, walked the dogs living in the dog shelter, and prepared food for the homeless. Of course, don’t mind that I always use “me”, we did it all with the wonderful people I was with, full of laughter and joy! <3
Apart from volunteering activities, I should definitely mention the travels we made and the times we spent together. Fifteen people, five different countries, more than 30 cities, and more than 6 thousand kilometers on the road. Even though we were 15 people, we all had fun and had a good time in harmony. Almost missed the bus, was ripped off, got lost :D, cultural differences, lost a wallet,…. Yes, we had problems, but we were able to solve all of them; all of them are good memories that we will laugh about when we look back.
I graduated from high school last year, I am currently studying at university, and this project was one of the best experiences of my life. I went alone to a foreign country, experienced setbacks, met new people, and as I said when describing my experiences in Poland, “Poland couldn’t beat me!”
At first, of course, there were question marks in my mind, I’m young, will they exclude me, what should I do, shouldn’t I go, I’m comfortable at home, what will I do for two months? My motto was “I’ll go and regret it instead of not going and regret it”, and I can honestly say that I didn’t regret a single second of it.
I really recommend it to anyone considering going abroad and volunteering, It’s never too late; it’s safe; it’s an experience that will change your perspective on life and make you look at things from a broader perspective. You don’t need a lot of money for it. The project covers your food, pocket money, accommodation, and travel expenses. I wish you good luck, and don’t forget to follow PI Youth Association’s social media accounts to be informed about new projects!