LP fourth meeting

Short report from the fourth and final Partnership Meeting of the Learning Partnership "Learning through Volunteering"

6-10.04.2014 in Toruń, Poland.

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The fourth meeting of the GRUNDTVIG program took place in Toruń and mainly consisted of discussions and workshops to finish the good practice guide project and several visits to organizations with outstanding examples of volunteering in Toruń and the region Kuyavian-Pomeranian .

Sunday 6th April 2014

On Sunday evening we arrived in Toruń central station and took a taxi to Barbarka, which is an old woodland settlement in the northern outskirts of Toruń. There resides the environmental NGO Tilia, which has a hostel where we all got our bedrooms. Before the delicious polish dinner we met all the other meeting participants from England, Slovakia and Poland. After dinner Jaroslaw Kowalik, who organized this fourth meeting, made a presentation of the plans for the following three days.

 

Monday 7th April 2014

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On Monday after breakfast we went with the bus to the Feniks foundation. The foundation’s site is located in Kijaszkowo - about 35 km from Torun - in a sort of “ranch”, which the members renovated and built on their own. The ranch is made up of a house, a stable, a garden and a meadow for the three horses. There we met Kasia Śmigielska, the founder, and two other members of the foundation. After a very pleasant welcome they introduced themselves and explained us the story of the foundation as well as their projects. The main aim of their work is to combine the world of the disabled with and integrate it into the world of the healthy. Among other things they work on recycling objects to give them a second life. As an example we learned how to make a basket or a table mat with old newspapers. On the afternoon we could visit the Feniks foundation’s gallery, which is situated in the city central of Toruń and where the foundation sells its objects for a few zloty.

If you want to know more about Feniks : www.fundacja-feniks.org

After lunch we visited a second foundation called Ducha that also works with disabled children. Two members of the foundation explained us their main activity. They offer a therapy for disabled persons based on a combination of horseriding (hippotherapy) and climbing. About fourty volunteers help the foundation and organize many workshops and other projects like hiking and summer camps.

More information about Ducha under: www.fundacjaducha.pl

Later that day we went back to Barbarka for dinner and discussed the final version of the “best practice guide”. Everybody made some suggestions on improving the document and we agreed upon the essential points we needed to add to the guide.

In the evening we had a beautiful surprise: Jaroslaw prepared a nice campfire with appropriate food. We had some sausages to grill and various delicious salads. We all had sat down around the fire and started singing in different languages.

 

Tuesday 8th April 2014

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On tuesday we were invited to an interesting conference at the Marshal’s office of Toruń. We met Piotr Calbecki, a polish politician who is a current member of Kuyavian-Pomeranian regional assembly and other local government delegates. Mr. Calbecki made a speech about his politics and the significance of the local and regional NGOs. After that, each organization introduced itself and spoke about its projects.

Afterwards we took part in an interesting forum about social economy with the local and regional institutions. We talked about several topics like the presentation of social economy institutions and also discussed social policy. We learned a bit about the center of social economy support from Toruń.

In the afternoon we explored the town. Right after that we had the chance to visit the Gingerbread museum. We learned how to make the original gingerbread of Toruń. All of us made their own gingerbread.

After that we went back to Barbarka for dinner and continued our discussion about the final project of the “best practice guide”.

 

Wednesday 9th April 2014

On wednesday morning the bravest of us made a ropes course in the trees of Barbarka. After this sporting activity we were all picked up to go to the Marshal’s office to have a final discussion about the GRUNDTVIG project and to make some conclusions about the “best practice guide”. During our meeting we were visited by Jacek Rostowski, Polands former finance minister and deputy prime-minister who had a short discussion with us and gave us the opportunity to ask questions. He gave us his point of view about social economy. At last we had a discussion about Poland’s 1% income tax donation for NGOs.

After lunch we visited the University of Nicolaus Copernicus and had the opportunity to meet two student organizations which primarily work with volunteers. The first one was called “Od Nowa” and is in charge for organizing the culture animations of the campus, like concerts, movie projection as well as theatre performance and art exhibition. We questioned two volunteers, who explained us their motivation and functions as voluntary workers.

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You want to know more about “Od Nowa”? Have a look here: www.odnowa.umk.pl

After that we met the second student association, which is an international association called Aiesec. After a presentation of their primary aims we listened to three reports from volunteers. The first volunteer came from Argentina, another one related us his experience in Russia. And a young Tunisian teacher told us about his experience in Poland.

More about Aiesec under: www.aiesec.org

At the end of the day we were expected in the city center at the Jan Olbracht brewery-restaurant. For our last evening in Toruń we enjoyed some typical polish dishes and tasted some of the brewed beers. At last we thanked Jaroslaw and the other Tilia members for their warm welcome and outstanding organization and gave them some souvenirs from Göttingen.

Thursday 10th  April 2014

Final breakfast at Barbaka and last walk in the woods. Final discussion about the GRUNDTVIG project: impressions, observations, improvement propositions, etc. Lunch close to the central station of Toruń and departure with the train.