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Teaching English in Zakopane, is it safe?


kayterr 2 | 10
18 Nov 2009 #1
I will be teaching English in Zakopane soon and I am nervous because I am African-American and I wanted to know if I will be safe in that part of Poland? I've been to Warsaw/Krakow before and I didn't have any problems at all, but I've not been in the mountains in Poland before. I just wanted to know what anyone Polish thinks of this plan? Will I be ok?
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
18 Nov 2009 #2
I just wanted to know what anyone Polish thinks of this plan?

It will be safe as long as you use common sense - but there is one important thing to consider. It's quite likely that you'll experience 'indirect' racism from students - there is a definite attitude in Poland that those of colour are inferior teachers. I've seen and heard this for myself - classes of well educated people telling me that they wouldn't want a black teacher, and even among my friends, I've heard such similar attitudes. It's not racism as such, more just a lack of experience with those of other races.

If you don't mind me asking - do you have previous experience in Poland with teaching?
natasia 3 | 368
18 Nov 2009 #3
i am sure you will be absolutely fine. i am really sorry that you have to worry like this, but honestly, zakopane has a lot of tourism and i'm sure lots of different nationalities are seen there all the time. it is a beautiful place and that has brought people there.

i can't believe it isn't safe. it isn't like east germany in the 1980s. it is totally different. and some poles might blow hot air about people who are different from them, but i think in reality they are very welcoming. that is my experience (seeing they interact with people of different races in my house).

it will be great. don't worry. look forward to it. if anything, you will seem exotic and they will all be after you ; ) and remember all the kids are brought up on mtv and there is a high african-american representation there ... you will be like a pop star.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
18 Nov 2009 #4
You should be fine but try to avoid heavy drinking mountaineers. They can be a little rowdy, more cantankerous than standard folks after drinking.

Still, I see Zakopane as a safe enough area. You might be told off for speaking English as my English friend got, LOL.
OP kayterr 2 | 10
18 Nov 2009 #5
delphiandomine,

I don't have any experience as a teacher in Poland or in general. I am actually studying International Relations here in college. I will be volunteering at a summer camp. Truthfully, I just wanted to find a way to go back to Poland ;p
szarlotka 8 | 2,208
18 Nov 2009 #6
You should be fine but try to avoid heavy drinking mountaineers. They can be a little rowdy, more cantankerous than standard folks after drinking.

Oh no we're not. we're happy drunks who pile chairs up high and climb them.

On topic - You'll be fine in Zakopane
OP kayterr 2 | 10
18 Nov 2009 #7
Seanus
Thank, Seanus, I'll keep working on my Polish then!
Seanus 15 | 19,706
18 Nov 2009 #8
Szarly, LOL. Quite the man!

You'll be fine, sir. As Natasia said, you may well become sth of a celeb! There's a pretty mellow vibe in the mountains so you shouldn't go far wrong. Just applaud vodka and all will be well :)
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
18 Nov 2009 #9
I will be volunteering at a summer camp.

Aha - well, if you're happy with them using you, then you won't have a problem. But I'd actually try and recommend finding a paid summer camp in Poland - the money won't be that great, but it's certainly better than not being paid for it!

I wouldn't recommend summer camps where you volunteer for many, many reasons.
OP kayterr 2 | 10
18 Nov 2009 #10
Haha! Ok, wonderful! (p.s I'm a girl =p)
pawian 187 | 17,898
18 Nov 2009 #11
I will be teaching English in Zakopane soon and I am nervous because I am African-American and I wanted to know if I will be safe in that part of Poland? I've been to Warsaw/Krakow before and I didn't have any problems at all, but I've not been in the mountains in Poland before. I just wanted to know what anyone Polish thinks of this plan? Will I be ok?

You should be careful with those Highlanders. They are quick with their axes. There are hundreds of jokes and stories about Lowland dwellers coming back from the mountains with an axe in their back.
OP kayterr 2 | 10
18 Nov 2009 #12
Delphiandomine, really? Why not? Are there any paid summer programs you know of?

Pawian, I don't speak polish so I have no clue what that says! Are highlanders truly that...scary?
Seanus 15 | 19,706
19 Nov 2009 #13
Just funny stuff, nothing to be worried about. It's not too dissimilar to the dialect here in Silesia which is called Gwara. It just involves vowel changes and misspelt words.

The sounds are pretty soft there. Zakopane is a very touristic area so they are accustomed to foreigners. It's a cool place to teach :)
frd 7 | 1,401
19 Nov 2009 #14
Pawian, I don't speak polish so I have no clue what that says! Are highlanders truly that...scary?

The truth is in little mountain villiges you'll find these little pubs or inns where completely drunken guys are fighting each other or any newcomers that might happen to be there. I'm visiting one such villige during every summer and there are always stories about how drunk they can get and what they can do. It's a bad idea to go to a local pub in a small villige when it's after 18:00... and that is for anyone not only foreigners, as for Zakopane, I don't think you have anything to be afraid of..
OP kayterr 2 | 10
19 Nov 2009 #15
If I understand basic polish, will I still be able to understand even if there are local dialects, Seanus?
cherylellis
19 Nov 2009 #16
I visited Zakopane April 09..absolutely beautiful. The one thing that stands out is the incrediable stonework. The extra special Polish vodka made me unable to find my camera:) Is there any chance one of you kind soles would take some pictures of the stonework for me. I have searched the internet for pictures..none to be found.The stone was river rock(that's what we call it here in Canada) it is the round smooth stones. There would be 3 or 4 stones rounded side out then one sitting on it's flat. My email is cheryl.ellis@gmail.
Juche 9 | 292
19 Nov 2009 #17
I've seen and heard this for myself - classes of well educated people telling me that they wouldn't want a black teacher, and even among my friends, I've heard such similar attitudes. It's not racism as such

LOL how is this not racism?

because Zakopane is such a lucrative spot for business activities, the mafia representation is a little higher than the typical Polish city. However, as an English teacher that uses common sense and leeps his nose clean, you should be safe. You won't be the only person of color that has passed through, but you may get some goofy stares from locals just the same. Zakopane has a definite small-town feel.
OP kayterr 2 | 10
19 Nov 2009 #18
WOW! Those pictures are amazing. Was anyone here from Zakopane? What do you think of the subject?
Czestochowa 9 | 50
22 Nov 2009 #19
because Zakopane is such a lucrative spot for business activities, the mafia representation is a little higher than the typical Polish city

I can confirm this.

I've just come back from Zakopane and I wouldn't suggest it as a place to conduct business unless you have some solid contacts there. The local police are also quite keen to top up their salaries.
Cardno85 31 | 976
23 Nov 2009 #20
Sects and evil auras

Do you have a bigger version of that picture, looks quite fascinating.
Barney 15 | 1,483
23 Nov 2009 #21
Mountains blocking the sunlight

Yeah, one minute they look good, the next they are getting in the way!
Whats with that?
OP kayterr 2 | 10
23 Nov 2009 #22
what does that poster mean?
pawian 187 | 17,898
23 Nov 2009 #23
kayterr

Warning against sects one characteristics of which is a display of certain signs.
OP kayterr 2 | 10
24 Nov 2009 #25
Are sects prevalent in Poland? How popular are they?
Cardno85 31 | 976
24 Nov 2009 #26
Really quite worryingly popular. There is a really popular one that meets on a Sunday morning all around the country and they burn things and chant and talk to dead people and deities...

But seriously, I think they will probably be like most other places, minorities mainly with a good mix of rebellious teenagers just for good measure.
Moonlighting 31 | 234
24 Nov 2009 #27
kayterr

Hi. You say you don't have experience as a teacher. What makes you think you will be a good teacher then? Don't you think the students have the right for professionalism? I hope for them that you will be good, but I'm always amazed to see on these boards the quantity of people who want to teach English in Poland, as if being a teacher was the most obvious or easiest job to do.

To be more on topic, I'd like to say that some village or mountain people will dislike anyone who simply is not a local. I have a Polish friend whose parents own a lodge in Zakopane. They are from Krakow and like to come and spend a weekend in their lodge from time to time. Constantly they are the victims of pettiness from some neighbours, who for example move stones in front of their gate to block the way in, or will deflate one of their car's tyres during the night ;-). Village people who don't like them just because they come from "the big city".

So there could be several reasons why people will not like you. But you will also meet people who will be positively interested in your difference. So don't bother too much. Be as good a teacher as possible, enjoy the nice walks in the mountain and the delicious country food. And if it turns out badly, just come back ;-).
jonni 16 | 2,485
24 Nov 2009 #28
burn things and chant and talk to dead people and deities...

Their leaders dress in robes, and the encourage other men and women to join them, work for them, wearing robes with hoods, and give all their money to them. Obsessed with sex too.

Seriously, Zakopane, particularly in summer, is cosmopolitan enough not to be too backward.

Jammed full of tourists though, and accommodation is always ar a real premium.
Harry
24 Nov 2009 #29
Don't you think the students have the right for professionalism?

They would do if they were paying her. But seeing as she says at the top that she's volunteering at a summer camp, the students can't really complain about not getting what they pay for.
OP kayterr 2 | 10
24 Nov 2009 #30
Yes, and I'm not teaching technical English grammar. This camp asks for native speakers so kids can work on conversation. I'm only trying to help...


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