I am 24 years old and originally from the south-east of London, though I have had the exciting privilege, these last few months, to live in Krakow, Poland.
Whilst I have visited it once before with my family, this time I have come to know the city much more intimately and I am increasingly fond of it. It is not surprising that, with the powerful influence of many Saints, most notably Saint Faustina Kowalska and St Pope John Paul II, it can be rightly termed ‘The City of Saints‘.
I sense their influence in my life, through the Divine Mercy of Jesus, this beautiful image, and it was on the anniversary day of John Paul II’s death in April, that I arrived here. I do not think this was simply coincidental.
Making many great friends and sharing many wonderful moments, this place is now starting to feel like another home.
What I’ve been doing here has been focused around one thing, World Youth Day. It has been a huge privilege, though still a challenge, joining and working with the World Youth Day Local Organising Committee as we prepare for this exciting youth event in July. It is an honour to represent the UK in Krakow and I am pleased to serve and participate in such important work for the Church.
My Polish is terrible! I have tried to learn it to an extent, yet most of the time I speak in English hoping that everybody understands me. I can say a few basic Polish words and phrases, yet thankfully most people have very good English. The only problem is, it appears that American English is better understood than British English by most! Yet, maybe this is due to all of those TV shows and films from the States that everybody watches!
My time here, so far, has been filled with a range of wonderful things, from hard office work to extraordinary mountain trips. I work in the Call Centre, first and foremost, answering calls and e-mails, giving information and helping pilgrims with preparation.
It has been getting increasingly busy and, though we are working 9am-5pm Monday to Friday now, we expect to be open 24 hours a day during WYD!
We have an international team across the committee, with people from Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica, New Zealand and France, to name but a few.
The people working here are inspiring, with different stories and perspectives to share. The time I have spent getting to know them has been wonderful and truly immersed in such richness of culture and personality.
This has been a tremendous gift to me, not to mention being able to engage specifically with Polish culture and history. When I walk in the streets in Krakow, the Main Square, Rynek Glowny, for example, there is always something special going on, whether performances, markets or the sound of the trumpet blazing in the tower of Mariacki Basilica. And such things truly bring this city to life!
[to be continued…]