Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

My life in Poland – ESC volunteering project

My life in Poland – ESC volunteering project

 

My name is Maxime Dhesdin, a French long-term volunteering in INPRO for an 8-month project and I want to tell you more about my experience taking part in ESC.

First, when volunteering is concerned, motivation is a key point. It is not easy to decide to go abroad for months and leave comfort, you should have a strong motivation and a hunger for adventure. In my case, I always have been interested in foreigners in France. What are their motivations to travel for thousands of kilometers to land in a country where they are totally lost? To better understand their point of view, I decided last summer to take a deeper look at opportunities around me and to put myself at their place.  It will be a lie to say that I didn’t have any fears or apprehension the days just before my flights. When you realize that you are going to spend the following 8 months in a foreign country during a global pandemic, living in the same room with total strangers, it is normal to start thinking. At that time, I already knew that it will be really difficult and even impossible for me to come back to visit my family before the end of the project. However, I strongly believe in the motto “Who Dares Wins”…

The ESC was the best option, an opportunity like no others where my desire of meeting and understanding would be fulfilled. But before continuing, I have to tell you a bit more about me and my life in France.

I just finished a degree in Applied Foreign Languages in English, Spanish and Russian. That means that for 3 years at the University, I met and heard about hundreds of foreigners coming to France to study. Unfortunately, I never took part in any long-term project abroad at that time, even if it was required in my university course (thank you, pandemic!). Moreover, as you can guess from my field of study, I want to include “the international” in my future professional life. So, it was the perfect opportunity to start!

Once in Poland, I totally felt like a newborn, learning again usual things from the beginning. I really didn’t want to “act, think and behave like a French”. That is why I decided to try to “act, think and behave like a Polish” just by using mimicry, exactly like a child is repeating the words from his mother. I don’t want to be Polish or to pretend I am someone I am not, but I want to live an experience from an inner point of view, from the inside. Unfortunately, I do not have a whole life to dedicate to live as a Polish since the beginning, so I needed to move up a gear…

Indeed, mimicking was only the first step of my journey through Polish life. Learning Polish is a must, and to feel included in the society, and to understand the point of view of natives, it is really important to avoid language barriers. Indeed, when someone wants to tell you about his or her point of view, data can be lost in translation passing from Polish to English and from English to French. Also, people are more open and confident when they are speaking their own language. For sure, it is not so easy, 8 months are not enough to learn a brand-new language from the beginning. So, I decided to take this as a new challenge coming up. I have some sort of a background with languages so why not enjoy my stay in Poland to learn as much as I can to continue back in France. One day, by chance, I will go back to Poland to live other adventures but with another point of view again.

Now, I’ve already spent 4 months in Poland, and I can give you my feeling about ESC in itself and Poland in general.  Sure, you will be far from your family and your friends, and it won’t be really easy all days, but it is worth it. You will meet many new people from all around the world, you will learn about a whole culture taking part in another life. It is the perfect opportunity for you to improve your skills in so many different fields. My project puts the emphasis on non-formal and informal education. I didn’t only learn about Poland during those months but also about Azerbaijanis, the Swedish, web management, organizing and hosting events, cybersecurity or even advertising. However, I overall learnt about myself as an individual living in a globalized world where everything is possible, where there are no barriers. I should also confess that Poland is a really beautiful country (even despite the pandemic and all the restrictions, it is to say). The Polish are welcoming, they are among the best hosts I had the luck to meet and if you doubt about the fact that the language will be suitable for you, just enjoy a beer and everything will be better.

To conclude, no doubt to have, pack your luggage and join us!

Maxime Dhesdin