‘Horizons’ Scholarship Programme | Team-Building Event for First-Graders

The last days of August brought a team-building trip for a new group of ‘Horizons’ scholarship holders. This year, young people from all over Poland met in Warsaw, where they had an opportunity to experience the core aspects of the Horizons Scholarship Programme. Not only did they explore an unknown city and embrace its culture, science and art, but they also got to know the organisations responsible for the programme. Yet the trip was, first and foremost, a chance for the first-graders to get to know each other and enjoy their time together. They were accompanied by more experienced senior colleagues and the EFC Alumni, who are the best testament for the programme.

We welcomed the group of nearly 70 people at a Warsaw-based hotel. On their first evening, the scholarship holders met EFC Foundation President Aleksandra Saczuk, who warmly encouraged them to remain open to and cooperate with each other and with us. The message was further reinforced by our coordinators, who were excited to share their interests and demonstrate their zeal for their daily work that requires the passion and commitment so much valued by our Foundation. The evening ended with a group picture heralding the shared activities that followed.

The following day was epic. The agenda included a meeting of not only Horizons participants, but also us, the EFC Foundation, and the Starak Family Foundation, the strategic partner of the programme. We were invited to their office where we saw the Spectra Art Space, an experimental space dedicated to contemporary art, the core of which is a private art collection of Anna and Jerzy Starak, which they made available to the general public. We had an opportunity to listen to experts who talked about the immense impact of art and science on intellectual, cognitive and social development. The group of experts included: 

  • Grzegorz Kotowski, Board Member of the Starak Family Foundation,
  • Agata Łapińska, President of Polpharma Scientific Foundation, 
  • Ania Muszyńska, Curator of the Spectra Art Space and Starak Collection, 
  • Zuzanna Zasacka, art educator, trainer at contemporary art workshops, 
  • scientists, and biotechnologists representing Polpharma Biologics: Professor Tomasz Grabowski, and Rafal Derlacz. 

The choice of topics reflected the activities of Jerzy Starak, whose motto is: ‘Science is a great art! Scientists and artists share their passion to create, discover, seek answers for questions that have not yet been asked.’ The workshops we attended emphasised the value and role of the profiles chosen by our scholarship recipients at their high schools. They realised that whatever the path they chose, they made the best choice since it was their own. Even if they decide to modify it along the way. We took this important insight to the following items on the teambuilding agenda.

Since shared activities are the best way to make friends and build relationships, we split into smaller groups to visit Warsaw museums. What was important, however, is that we handed over command to young people: it was the more senior scholarship holder who took their new colleagues to interesting places in Warsaw. This allowed the participants to prepare themselves and practice for upcoming challenges in large cities such as planning their route and using means of public transportation. The walking routes of the group had some fascinating stops along the way, including the National Museum in Warsaw, and the Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture in the historic Królikarnia Palace. 

On the last day of the trip, we took part in a field game, which led us to the most interesting locations in Warsaw. The view of the city from its highest point, namely the 30th floor of the Palace of Culture and Science that every group had to reach, was breath-taking. It was quite a challenge, but with everyone’s wit and will, all the participants had the chance to admire the amazing panorama. 

The field game also included a unique site on the map of Warsaw. Our new scholarship grantees had a chance to visit the EFC Foundation office at 63/60 Mokotowska Street. We are grateful and happy to host such admirable guests. We still can’t get over how impressed we are by the new group of grantees, their insightful questions and eagerness to get to know not only us better, but the organisation and the people behind it. 

After subsequent trips and visits, we eventually found time to stop and focus on our needs. The culminating point of the trip was a workshop conducted by EFC Foundation psychologists, Agnieszka Jabłońska-Buchla and Anna Mazek. At the workshop we could explore ourselves and our values, and build positive beliefs about ourselves. This is important since the Horizons Scholarship Programme is more than just education and development of one’s interests – it also a space to build one’s self-esteem. In the course of school affairs, we always find time to talk about important things, which allows us to learn invaluable lessons and improve the quality of our lives by finding our individual pathin life. 

When we invite potential grantees to join Horizons, we tell them that as a foundation for education, we are committed to approach education as broadly as possible. We provide space for education that keeps up with the challenges of the ever-changing world, for critical thinking and social engagement. This, too, includes the pursuit of a good and happy life. These values were reflected by the four days of our team-building event. We hope that our new scholarship holders left Warsaw for their respective cities with a multitude of positive experiences and a desire to actively participate in the Horizons Scholarship Programme.