Over spring break 2013, Victoria, a senior at Marywood University in Pennsylvania, had the incredible opportunity to travel to Poland and visit the cities of Wroclaw and Warsaw with a Foster Care to Success Study Abroad Scholarship. Here is what she has to say about her trip:
Most of my time was spent in Wroclaw, the European Capital for Culture in 2016. The main objective of the class was to experience and interact with the culture as international artists, not tourists. . My class and I performed various artistic collaborations at venues in both cities. We met in coffee shops and art galleries where we performed for the Polish audience. The events included music, live mural drawing, and poetry readings (that’s me!). Every aspect of the performance was tailored to the specific talents of each student.
As an English major, I was able to bring my poetry across the world and recite it in front of a foreign audience. The experience was both incredible and surreal. Other students on the trip majored in illustration and sculpture, and most of them worked together to create large live murals that encouraged audience participation through modeling.
The overall theme of the trip was to participate in a cultural exchange though social and artistic interaction with the world and people around you. Perhaps the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of the trip was an “art as currency” exchange. Our class was assigned to exchange our art for something of monetary or intellectual value. Many students would approach people in the public and ask to draw them in exchange for a product, service, or story such as a cup of coffee or a language lesson. I handed out poems and paintings to helpful citizens and those I ventured into conversation with at local bistros.
For me, the most enjoyable event took place at a venture called Lokieta 5 in Wroclaw. We invited underprivileged children from the surrounding neighborhoods to participate in art lessons, drawings, and games. Our time spent with those children was valuable to both the students on the trip and the children we met. I learned a lot of Polish from an energetic (and patient) little girl and in exchange I taught her some English tongue twisters!
The art events taught me to work under collaborative conditions to produce entertainment and art for the people of Poland. Working with the underprivileged children added a level of enrichment and gave me even more experience working with elementary aged ESL students. Overall, my short time in Poland enriched my cultural understanding and broadened my global perspective, helping to prepare me for graduation and immersion in international teaching environments. Thank you, Foster Care to Success, for all the support you have given me, for this trip and throughout my college career!