Elzbieta Sarapata (Ela) is from a mountain village called Piechowice in Poland, and is a qualified teacher. Through her church and a passion for helping others, Ela met with one of our Action Language teachers, Ruth Colclough, whilst volunteering in France back in 1990, and they formed a long-lasting friendship.  It is this friendship that has led Ela on a journey of discovery that embraces the English language, volunteering, humanity and ultimately a visit to Action Language this summer.

For the past 9 years Ela has been teaching private one-to-one English lessons in Poland to pupils aged between 7-18 years. As a teacher, Ela is passionate about making her lessons relevant and engaging and achieves this by applying critical thinking whilst delivering the lessons in the English language. With Ruth’s lesson ideas and her support in sending over English newspapers, Ela encouraged her students to embrace very relevant and topical global issues, for example single use plastics, whilst at the same time helping the students to improve their command of the English language. Ela was delighted when the opportunity arose to volunteer for a week with Action Language this summer, here in Newcastle upon Tyne, and she was keen to increase her understanding of the issues facing asylum seekers and refugees and how this works in the UK. Ela explained “I hope to use the knowledge to better understand why my country is more fearful and less welcoming to these people. I would also like to encourage more volunteering in Poland by sharing my positive experiences with others”. During her volunteering week at Action Language Ela supported about 10 or 11 different classes; each one offering different teaching styles and levels of student ability, whilst supported by volunteer teaching assistants.

“I was made to feel so welcome by everyone at Action Language and really felt part of the groups from day one. Everyone was very respectful and kind and the classes so enjoyable. I met learners from around the world including Sudan and Eritrea and their journeys have inspired me to look further into the conflicts that these countries are enduring to understand more” Ela added.