Name: Urszula Zygler
Hometown: Bydgoszcz, Poland
Languages spoken: Polish, French (fluent), English (advanced)
Occupation: Flight attendant at Enter Air
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching French in Hanoi, Vietnam
Duration: 3 weeks
Start month: November 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Becoming a volunteer was one of the most spontaneous decisions in my life. As a cabin crew, I spend lot of time on foreign layovers. It can sound exciting but after some time life in a hotel can make you feel upset and lonely. I started to look for some alternative holidays ideas. I was sure that I didn’t want to go on any tourist trip. Every time I visit a new country I love to discover it from the perspective of local people. Because I took holidays in November, none of my friends or family could join me. That meant I had to find a way to meet new people. Apart from that, my holidays’ objective was also to challenge myself and break my daily routine. That’s how a volunteering project came to my mind!
What impact did you make on your volunteer project?
If I had to describe in one sentence what I was in charge of during my project I would say that I was doing my best in transforming the great potential and energy of my pupils into educational profits using creativity, fresh energy, smile and sense of humor which helped me build up relations. Apart from assisting classes and helping teachers with exercises correction or pronunciation difficulties, I was organizing my own classes, making up games and trying to introduce the communicative perspective of teaching foreign language.
I noticed that in Vietnam languages are taught from a very academic perspective that doesn’t provide children with speaking skills. I was lucky I was able to work with two local teachers that trusted me and gave me a lot of freedom concerning classes organization. Teachers’ Day, which is festively celebrated on the 20th of November, made me realize that the effort put in my work was greatly appreciated by students, their parents and the school’s staff. I feel honored to have contributed to my project in a significant way and I hope that my students will keep some memories of our classes or at least the vocabulary that we studied together 😉
How did you grow personally during your volunteer trip?
Thanks to everyday interactions with Vietnamese students and local people I feel that I developed great cultural sensitivity and flexibility. I learned how to communicate efficiently and how to build up relationships in an environment that is very different from the one in which I am used to live in. Within just a few days I became independent and resourceful in the country where ordering a proper dish in a restaurant or crossing the street can be challenging. I succeeded in organizing life as a local person and learned how to adjust to different cultural norms. I was using local buses, ordering motorbike taxis and became a professional chopstick user. It was a great surprise to me that I can feel so comfortable, happy and safe stepping out of my comfort zone 😉
My volunteer project let me discover a country of breathtaking beauty and a huge potential to grow! At the same time I became more self-confident and came across dozens of inspirational personalities. I would also love to underline that I had a great chance to exchange the cultural experiences not only with locals but also with other volunteers that came from all corners of the world to do this rewarding work.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your volunteer experience?
My project in Hanoi was a great privilege to teach and be taught the most memorable cultural and humanity lesson of my life!