Lauren Trumper (UK) came to UWC Red Cross Nordic for the academic year 2014-15 and worked as an EVS Volunteer in the Outdoor Department. Given the College’s ongoing partnership with the Laski School for blind and partially-sighted children and teenagers from across Poland, Lauren has volunteered  to work at the Laski Centre, on the outskirts of Warsaw, from October 2014 to November 2015. She kindly offered to write a report on her experiences-so-far at Laski for the RCN students, staff and supporters:

Laski is an unusual institution, not least because it is run by both nuns and lay people, with a working convent on-site. Students have normal lessons like Polish, Maths and languages, and also enjoy many activities such as swimming. However, there are also some more unusual lessons, like orientation and horse riding. For the older students, vocational subjects are also available: woodwork and textiles being popular options. I joined the Laski community in October 2014, to teach English with secondary school students and to help with a younger group of students. It has been a challenging but immensely rewarding time, and one that I have really enjoyed.

I have English conversation lessons for secondary school students every day. These lessons offer an interesting insight into Polish life – at the moment, we are talking about cultural celebrations, which as Easter begins tomorrow is particularly relevant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the students are especially excited about eating Easter eggs! My students are keen for me to learn Polish, and always give me advice and new vocabulary to use. Lessons are normally full of laughter, not least at my terrible pronunciation!

In the evenings, I help a younger group of students with their homework, although once they are finished, we normally play games. The girls live together in a cosy boarding house, where they learn the skills that they will need to be able to live independently in later life. Of course, they also have a lot of fun! They too are teaching me Polish, mainly through singing, which has had amusing results. The girls also love to dance – something that they do at every opportunity. Last Saturday they attended a carnival, and had a fantastic time dressing up in costumes and dancing with their friends. Craft is probably my favourite activity to do with the girls. Despite being unable to see, they work together to produce beautiful things. The girls challenge and exceed my expectations every time that I am with them!

An RCN student during a trip to LaskiIf you would like to be involved in the Laski project, I strongly suggest doing so as an EVS volunteer, in order to access an excellent level of support and guidance. Send an email expressing your interest to the Schuman Organisation and they will be able to support your application. EVS volunteers begin their service in January, and finish in November.

Laski is a school for the blind, but it is also a school without limitations. They have created an atmosphere of mutual respect and growth. It is not without its difficulties but, even so, the unique environment and the inspirational people make it incredibly rewarding.