Aviva In Poland

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Value of Kindness

Dear All
Another week has past and Im not sure where the time is going...I can not believe that this week marks the end of my second month in Warsaw. In case you were concerned I do have power, and I learnt not to use the washing machine and the oven at the same time! In that same note, I did manage to break the washing machine and had quit an adventure fixing it, but at the end of the week I had power and a washing machine! Its amazing how the tiniest thing can be much larger when you have a lanuage barrier. I am so fortunate to have such wonderful support fromt the people I work with. The care and attention they give me to make sure the things I need are taken care of is really amazing.
This week has gone by so quickly and I have been incredibley busy preparing a seminar for the Social Welfare Commission volunteers. There will be volunteers and Social Workers coming from all over Poland to participate in a Seminar which will include group building and communication activities, a workshop on the role of the Social Worker and the volunteer when dealing with clients, an acitive listening workshop and several other small things. There will be meals, hopefully some singing at Shabbat and an oppurtunity to unite a diverse group all people all putting time and effort into volunteering. The weekend should be motivating and inspiring for all those involved.
The Seminar will end with the next project being presented. Mitzvah Days are something which the Social Welfare Commission presents and they are several days used to promote the Mitzvah of volunteering, show our appreciation and thanks to the wonderful volunteers, recrute new volunteers and highlight the value and importance of volunteering within the various Jewish communites. Each community will host a special event for volunteers, clients, Social Workers and members of the community. In addition, volunteers that see clients regularly will take special gifts to their clients during that week. This week will take place between November 19-26 and it falls nicely into "Social Action Month". If you are interested in doing something in connection with your schools, youth groups, hebrew schools, campuses, or anything else you are involved in, please be in touch. It is a great way to promote doing good deeds, volunteering and helping others. I hope you have had a wonderful week
Shabbat Shalom
Love Aviva
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lights?-A Hilarious Moment!

I have been sharing with you all about the wonderful work I am doing, what I have not been sharing are some of the moments that one only has when they are in a new place building a new life. I could write a book on how to get lost on Warsaw, how to go about getting internet when you do not speak the language, how I nod to so many things, when I have no idea what people are saying- but the best happened tonight.
I was making dinner for my friends and it was almost ready and they were about to come. My music was blasting and I was having a good time-till suddenly theres no power at all. I must have blown a fuse and needed to think how to quickly fix the situation and save the dinner in the oven and on the stove. I speak little Polish, my neighbours dont speak English and I dont know how to fix anything! So luckily my landlandy had written her apartment number down for me and I went to her. She also speaks no English so when I showed up we called her daughter who translated the situation for us. After she turned her dinner off she came to my apartment where my friends were standing at my door confused and then laughing. We needed to get into the fuse box but the key would not work. So when the neighbours heard the continued commotion one came with wire cutters to break open the fuse box, Of course I had no idea what they were saying but about 30 mintues after this episode began-I had power. All this with being unable to communicate with those around me for help! I was soo appreciative I offered them the cookies I had received from home today! Im rearning that smiles, tears and translators can be an ok way to communicate. Thankfully I stared Polish lessons yesterday.
Hope this makes you laugh as much as it made my friends as I when we finally sat down to a great dinner-thanks to the amazing package of desired treats, condiments and books I got from my family today. Have a great rest of the week

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sukkah, Students & Seniors

Part of what I am here to do is to encourage young people to volunteer and to share the imoportance of volunteering. This task is not always easy, but when it happens and you are able to see the outcome it is amazing. I have been working with the Lauder Morasha Day School to bring some of their students to the Senior Club. This past Tuesday, after several meetings 14 girls from the school came to the Sukkah and sang to the Seniors who came to hear them.
The girls, with the assistance of their music teacher, who played the key board sang Jewish songs in Hebrew, Yiddush and Polish. There were several things that literally brought tears to my eyes throughout the hour the students were with the seniors. Firstly, that all of us were sitting in a beautiful Sukkah which adjoined the shul on a bright sunny day in Warsaw. The students brought enthusiasm, smiles and several songs which I have commonly heard sung at Camp and Shuls in North America. They also brought tradtional Yiddush songs and then the addition of Polish songs about Sukkot.
The Seniors, who often love to talk more then listen, were clearly enchanted with the singing and sat patiently and calmly while they were sung to, and enganged with, trough the copies of all the songs, that were brought to them. After all of the singing was over the seniors spoke to the students for a few minutes before they returned to school. The fact that the students could bring their talents of singing and particularly Jewish song to the Sukkah and the seniors, enhanced the holiday for everyone.
For me, it showed me that there is a way to connecting the young to the old and for everyone to enjoy from one another through the common love and appreication of being able to share together in the Sukkah, during the holiday. I look forward to more activities with the students and the seniors together! I hope you all have a wonderful week and I promise to write something about how much fun Simchat Torah in Warsaw is! Have a great week
Lots of Love

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

As I Continue to Get More Setteled....

It has been along time since I have posted something-I was feeling that nothing overly exciting was going on and then I realized that eachday and everything that I have the oppurtunity to do is exciting. Since Rosh Hashanah and the ending of the holiday I have continued to think about what will happen during this New Year and where life will take all of us-I wish I had some answer but Im contiuning to focus on the special community I am in now and what I can do for it.

Im learning that even the smallest things that I do make a big difference. Ive been bringing one lady lunch everyday and I stay and visit for a few minutes and when I leave she is in such wonderful spirits. Last Friday I brought Shabbat candles and we lit them together. Im continuing to spend time at the Senior Club and while my language is still a barrier I continue to enjoy their company. I have organized a special program for Sukkot which will take place next week. The Lauder Morasha Day School students will be coming to the Club and we will all go to the Sukkah together for a wonderful activity. Im thrilled that I was able to orgazine the students coming. It will be a great oppurtunity for them to spend time with the seniors and think about how they can be active in volunteering and of course the Seniors will love their time with them. I promise to post pictures of the event!

Tomorrow we will have our opening volunteer meeting for all of the Social Welfare volunteers in Warsaw. Im looking forward to meeting the ones I have not met, to sharing some ideas with them and to doing a special program about "Hashnasat Orchim-Welcoming Guests". Im also realizing that the to bridge the gap between the generations , to have the youth volunteering and doing programs with seniors-is a large task and something which I am slowly making some moves in the right direction. These ideas and programs are something I work on daily and look forward to getting at least one more off the ground in the next month. It is not easy to do but it is a wonderful challenge and anytime someone gets in touch or shows interest its a success. Im learning to appreciate all small feats and to understand that things take time-lots of time.

I personally am getting much more setteled and comfortable in my life. Ive adjusted to living alone a little too well and I love knowing how to get around and find what I need easily. It is still fun to discover more places and meet different faces. The language barrier is still a challenge. Im starting to understand more and my boss has found me some semi-private polish lessons and hopefully they will start very soon! Im slowly meeting more young people-I would love to meet more and I will. My life has slowed down and is less hectic. I can really appreciate what I am doing and the people I interact with. I look forward to conitnuing to share more about the life and would love to hear what you think!

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