“Study Tours to Poland”: Polytechnic students improve their volunteering skills within the framework of the Polish grant programme

Student of Faculty of Philology, Psychology and Pedagogy Yuliia Hordiievska together with student of Educational and Research Institute of Finance, Economics, Management and Law of Poltava Polytechnic Valentyna Babets took part in a short-term grant study programme “Study Tours to Poland” in Warsaw. The participants acquired the necessary practical skills and visited cultural locations of several Polish cities.

“Study Tours to Poland”: Polytechnic students improve their volunteering skills within the framework of the Polish grant programme

From 16 to 26 April, 2024, fourth-year student majoring in 035 Philology of Faculty of Philology, Psychology and Pedagogy Yuliia Hordiievska with second-year student majoring in 292 International Economic Relations of Educational and Research Institute of Finance, Economics, Management and Law of the National University “Yuri Kondratyuk Poltava Polytechnic” Valentyna Babets took part in the short-term grant study programme “Study Tours to Poland”, which was held in Poland’s capital – Warsaw.

It should be recalled that “Study Tours to Poland” (STP) is a programme of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation implemented by the “Leaders of Change” Foundation in cooperation with the “Borussia” Foundation. The programme organises study visits to Poland for students from Moldova and Ukraine. The aim of the programme is to present the realities of Poland and the European Union, as well as to develop and strengthen professional and personal contacts between leaders from Eastern Europe and their Polish partners.

“The main part of the programme began on 17 April, when the participants had the opportunity to meet the host organisation Federacja Mazowia, and received an overview of the history of Poland and Warsaw, as well as their political situation. Together we discussed our expectations of the programme and received gifts from STP. We also had the opportunity to test vegan food, which is quite common in Warsaw,” – talks about the start of the project Valentyna Babets.

“The next day, on 18 April, we were scheduled to visit the TUS Foundation (FUNDACJA TUS), which has many years of experience in supporting people with disabilities. Initially, until 2004, the Foundation was the first organisation in Poland to provide specialised transport for people with disabilities. In 2005, the TUS Foundation started supporting people with disabilities to enter the open labour market. As participants, we had the opportunity to experience the real problems faced by people with disabilities: wheelchair riding, glasses simulating visual impairments, etc. After that, we went to the Okhota district, where we visited a modern library built on the site of a former tram station. An unusual discovery was the book machine, which allows readers to check out a book by simply scanning their user card without having to interact with people. After that, we went to the Warsaw Museum in the Old Town. In the evening, a visit to the House of Arts (Dom Sztuki) was planned – an experimental place where a private environment becomes a social space for integration and cooperation. In the place where people live, they manage a cooperative garden and organise events, including meetings, workshops and film screenings. Since 2021, the young activists have been working informally and on a large scale in the Warsaw district of Grochów, and in 2023 they became a foundation,” – says Yuliia Hordiievska.

The girls and other participants also visited an amateur theatre in an abandoned school building in the centre of Warsaw, tasted Polish pierogi, and went to the Palace of Culture and Science, which offers a magnificent view of the capital from the 30th floor.

On 20 April, a trip was planned to a town called Minsk Mazowiecki, which has a rather interesting history related to the Jewish ghetto, and to a local library where Polish language courses are held for Ukrainian refugees. After that, they visited a youth centre where all the participants saw how young people spend their free time: playing games, talking, singing, and dancing Ukrainian and Moldovan folk dances together.

A long trip to the village of Klice was quite interesting, where a local activist organisation shared their experience of developing small villages with a population of ~200 people and where the programme participants had the opportunity to enjoy traditional Polish food.

Another interesting trip was to the city of Shchednitse to visit the Gallery of Culture. The founder of the space showed board games of her own design based on the history of the city and shared her experience of creating grants. The evening ended with a visit to the ordinary Polish homes of the host organisation’s employees. “I was extremely surprised that everything was so similar to my native Ukraine: ordinary houses, such hospitable people, as if I had really been home. The visit was aimed at introducing the guests to the real life of the country, so during it we cooked national dishes together, talked about various topics, learned everything about the life of ordinary Polish citizens. I have very fond memories of this visit, so to speak, a home get-together,” – shares her experience Valentyna Babets.

On 23 April, the study tour participants visited the Narodowy Instytut Wolności (National Institute for Freedom) – the Civil Society Development Centre, an institution responsible for supporting civil society, community service and volunteering. It was there, through fruitful communication and discussion, that the young people were able to learn more about the activities of this structure: conducting activities to develop civic and patriotic attitudes, implementing a programme for the development of the non-governmental and volunteer sectors. Later, representatives of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship authorities visited the centre and presented the work of the structure of various branches of the country’s government. The guests answered questions and covered topics of interest to the participants.

Of course, art was an integral part of the trip – Mariia Pryimachenko’s exhibition was a bright addition. It was especially special for Ukrainians, because it was very interesting to compare the presentation of our countrywoman’s work in another country. Another unforgettable moment was a workshop held by a representative of the Foundation for Accessible Visual Culture. Wielomyśly is an initiative that involves people with disabilities in the perception and creation of art. Participants tried to experience art with their eyes closed, which brought about many unexpected emotions and insights.

The next day, they visited the RAZEM Foundation for Psychological Assistance and Social Education. Under the motto “It’s easier together”, their team works for people of all ages and with different needs – from children and teenagers, adults to the elderly, offering them not only professional psychological support, but also educational and therapeutic opportunities. They also support refugees by offering assistance tailored to their specific needs. Through their integration and educational initiatives, they try to facilitate their adaptation and build intercultural bridges, promoting mutual understanding and respect. A conversation with elderly women who shared their attitude to this organisation and talked about their difficult life experiences was interesting. At the end of the day, the students also listened to a lecture on changes in Poland’s educational and political system, as well as discussed EU integration and environmental projects.

The last day, 25 April, began with a visit to the Salvation Army charity, where the participants delved further into the topic of volunteering, especially in relation to helping Ukraine and Ukrainians during the war.

The meeting with the sponsors and organisers of the “Study Tour to Poland” programme was very pleasant. The workshop was a fond memory, with participants discussing their impressions, plans for the future, the use of their experience, and much more. Future philologist Yuliia Hordiievska had the opportunity to practise her skills of consecutive translation from Ukrainian into English, interpreting the STP Programme Director Mirosław Skórka. “It was an unforgettable trip, thanks to which I got a lot of ideas and inspiration, had the opportunity to improve my communication skills in Polish and, of course, share my personal experience with other participants,” – she shares her impressions.

It should be recalled that last year, four students of Poltava Polytechnic took part in the “Study Tours to Poland” programme and visited Wroclaw, Gdańsk and Toruń.

In the autumn semester of the academic year 2023/2024, a 4th year student majoring in 035 Philology Yuliia Hordiievska completed her semester-long study at Invisible University for Ukraine (IUFU).

The future translator Yuliia Hordiievska is an active participant in various mobility programmes. For example, Yuliia has previously studied youth approaches to developing environmental projects at the regional and national levels, climate change and environmental pollution, and learned about the specifics of volunteering.

It should be noted that students of Poltava Polytechnic have the opportunity to study abroad under the grant programmes of credit academic mobility for a semester or a whole academic year at the leading universities of Austria, Greenland, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, and the Czech Republic.

For more information about the current academic mobility programmes, please contact the International Relations Department (room 320-F, interoffice@nupp.edu.ua) or the Coordinator of International Cooperation of National University “Yuri Kondratyuk Poltava Polytechnic” – Candidate of Philological Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Germanic Philology and Translation Anna Kostiantynivna Pavelieva (room 310-C, email: kunsite.zi@gmail.com, phone: +3-8-(095)-91-08-192).

Recently, the university’s methodological fund was replenished with manuals on the results of research on gender equality and gender-based violence, the Polytechnic signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the North-Eastern Interregional Department of the State Labour Service, and a Polytechnic researcher finished an international internship at the University of South Bohemia.

Media Center of
National University “Yuri Kondratyuk Poltava Polytechnic”