Sarah Griebler is an ELCA volunteer teacher in Cieszyn, Poland, teaching English. Here’s an excerpt from here blog, a post she says is inspired by Neil Pasricha’s “1000 Awesome Things,” a website that celebrates the little joys in life.
* The Polish and Czech tradition of making lamb cakes for Easter, and this year getting to celebrate this tradition with Dominika, the fifth-grader I’ve tutored for two years.
* Drinking English Breakfast tea and watching Kate and Will’s wedding live with 50 of my eighth-grade students.
* Eating cake first and dinner second when you visit a Polish home.
* How anytime I come across a word I’ve never seen or heard before – in any language, English, Polish, Italian, German, etc. – I find myself automatically trying to sound it out using the Polish sound system, which, of course, only works if the word is actually a Polish one.
* How our school secretary keeps trying to find me a nice Polish boy to marry so I’ll stay another year.
* How people, when I tell them there’s an “H” in my name, will put it anywhere except at the end (“Sahra” or “Sarha”) because Polish female names always end in “A.”
* How loving physical touch is so much a part of the culture here. Personal space is almost non-existent (which was startling at first but now I love it) and people are wonderfully affectionate with their friends and family.
* How the greeting “cześć” (kind of like “Hi” in American English except it really is only spoken to people you know well) sounds so friendly and loving and you really feel like you’re embracing the person in a hug when you say it.
* Knowing Poland’s “bathroom secret” — that the circle is the symbol on the women’s bathroom and the triangle is the symbol for the men’s — and getting to help people not “in the know” go into the right one. Although it’s also hilarious when you find yourself face to face with a member of the opposite sex who ended up in the wrong bathroom and is just as shocked to find you there.
* My students’ amazement (and sometimes applause) when they can’t remember a word in English and I’m able to translate it from Polish without consulting a dictionary.
Sarah’s blog, “Out of Great Joy,” with her many photos of her time in Poland, is at http://sarahpoland.blogspot.com/.