Explore the incredible volunteer experience of Galway-based Polish Blogger Malgosia Doczyk! For the last 15 years, she created and supported over 20 social projects in the three European Capitals of Culture (ECoCs): Sibiu 2007 (Romania), Wroclaw 2016 (Poland) and Galway 2020 (Ireland). Her blog Blue Tram is a rich source of positive experiences and projects. We met during my volunteering at the Opening of Galway 2020.
From writing letters to sharing food with Community Fridge
The two recent projects at Galway 2020 that struck me by their simplicity and cordiality devoted to the Day of Elderly people: writing letters to residents of nursing homes and storytelling meetings of Festival in a van that brought art to the Galway neighbourhoods. Wave Makers, Galway 2020 volunteers, actively participated in these projects personally communicating with dozens of people who suffered the pandemic isolation.
‘I believe that many of those experiences may become good practices elsewhere because they’re safe and not expensive, – says Malgosia. – The organizers of another series of events Hope it rains (Kites in Athenry, Sewing workshop Umbrella Orphanage, The Flood, Photomontages) showed that rainy and blowing weather could bring people closer to each other and wake up creativity, fun and cheer everyone in difficult times’.
Along with cultural projects in this year’s cultural capital Galway 2020, Malgosia Doczyk shares interesting experiences in other countries.
One of the most impressive posts about foreign social initiatives on Blue Tram is the Community fridge in Wroclaw (Poland) initiated by Izabela Duchnowska, an owner of a hostel. It’s a great example of how local businesses and social services can support the poor by simply putting a fridge in the street near the building. The idea is very simple: those who want to donate some food can bring and put it inside, and those who are in need can take it.
There are also priceless ideas for those who’re interested in interesting fashion discoveries on Blue Tram. The post African sun in Ireland tells about a Galway-based designer from Ghana who covers fabric with original vivid patterns.
Being local everywhere by exploring poetic sides of everything
‘I am a poet that loves to discover a poetic side of life in ordinary things, and journalism, reportage and volunteering are my fire of life, – says Malgosia who has the background in archaeology and journalism. – I love to feel local whenever I live, and I enjoy creating ideas based on good causes that have the power to connect people and uncover their creative potential’.
The starting point for her cultural volunteer projects was in 2006 at the local Youth Club in Wroclaw, Poland. She organized poetry workshops that became a good tradition and still exist. The idea was to show people that everyone could be a poet and express and hone the skills together with peers during coffee shop meetings.
Volunteering with vulnerable social groups is another important part of Malgosia’s work. Her documentary ‘What is important in your life?’ (in Polish) is based on interviews with the homeless among other social groups and was screened and discussed at Film Makers Club in 2014, Wroclaw, Poland.
The biggest international event in Poland that Malgosia organized in Wrocław was Portuguese Day in 2014. It involved about ten nationalities. People from Portugal, Brazil, Angola exchanged fantastic dishes, attended together lectures, language, poetry and samba workshops, a photography exhibition, a concert and a movie made by Portuguese director.
Ten years ago Malgosia moved from Poland to Ireland where she enthusiastically continued implementing her projects that promoted the culture of her home country and supported local social initiatives at Galway 2020.
The first big success was the Hidden Poland exhibition in Dundalk popular both with Polish and local visitors. The local radio invited Malgosia to share the experience (in the photo below), and a newspaper wrote an article about the exhibition.
Volunteering at Galway 2020 has provided Malgosia with many opportunities for exciting pastime with like-minded people and possibilities to connect with the community in a meaningful way.
‘When I visited Galway several years ago during archaeological excavation works in other parts of Ireland, I knew that one day I’d live here, – recollects Malgosia. – I was impressed that such a small city was always full of life and diversity. And life gave me this gift – my future husband who’s a graphic designer also chose this city, and we got married in Galway’.
In 2019, she was on an important cultural and volunteer mission at the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu Romania and participated in FITS International Volunteering Programme, one of the biggest cultural volunteering program in the world. She acted as a cultural volunteer ambassador from Galway 2020 representing the Irish European Capital of Culture in Romania and engaging in cultural exchange with theatre lovers from all over the world.
That project inspired her to set up the blog Blue Tram and share her travel and volunteer experiences with friends. Over time, Malgosia’s posts have become valuable sources of information for a wider audience of travellers and people who’re interested in cultural exchange. Find new ideas on her blog Blue Tram.
This post is part of the project the Month of Cultural Exchange between creative practitioners of European Capitals of Culture. More details are on my November Facebook timeline. The first post was about a weaver and carpet-maker of Plovdiv 2019 (Bulgaria) and the second one about Lithuanian artist of Kaunas 2022 (Lithuania).