Karolina Pondo

Karolina Pondo

Gaining knowledge and awareness of stereotypes, prejudices, and the mechanisms of how they work is the first step in deconstructing them and, as a result, can positively affect not only our lives, but also the lives of others.

Country: Poland  
Job title: Psychologist 
Organization: PRO-FIL Foundation, Comenius Foundation 
Sector: Mental Health  
Years of experience in her role: 2,5 years 


In this interview, Karolina Pondo, Psychologist from PRO-FIL Foundation and Comenius Foundation Poland, highlights her experience from the in-person Embracing Diversity training of trainers hosted by the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) under the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative. Aimed at preparing professionals to tackle issues of exclusion and discrimination in early childhood environments, this training empowers her with practical knowledge and provided a platform to exchange with professionals across countries and sectors.  

Karolina participated in the training to gain practical skills and exchange with professionals from various sectors and countries. She plans to raise awareness about the negative consequences of stereotyping to make a greater impact in her work.  

Do you already use this training in your work? How? Can you share an example to illustrate its relevance?

I have already used some exercises from this training in my daily work and I hope to use it more and more and to spread what I learned. I think everyone  should have the opportunity to attend this training because it touches on tender but, at the same time, important topics which concern all of us. Gaining knowledge and awareness of stereotypes, prejudices and the mechanisms of how they work is the first step in deconstructing them and, as a result, canpositively affect not only our lives, but also the lives of others. The exercise that was extremely important for me was the labelling exercise. It showed us howlabelling works and how it can affect someone’s behaviour. I often highlight them, not only while working with adults, but also with children and adolescents in the version adapted to their age.

Why did you attend this training? What motivated you to join?

I am very thankful that I was able to take part in this training, especially because the topics of the training are, in my opinion, very important. I also received many exercises and tips that I will be able to use in my daily work with children, adolescents, parents, teachers and educators from both Poland and Ukraine. The value and what motivated me to attend this training was gaining practical knowledge for my daily job and to exchange opinions with a wide range of professionals from other countries and foundations.

What are your next plans for utilizing the knowledge you gained from this training? How do you think it can benefit others in your workplace or fellow practitioners?

I’ll share the knowledge I gained through through my daily work with teachers, educators and children and adolescents. I hope that the experiences that I gained will help others to raise awareness of the negative effects of stereotypes and labelling and will be the first step in deconstructing them. I also hope that while spreading this knowledge I’ll show others some mechanisms that I learned during the training and that they will be better understood and will cause positive changes in their daily lives and the communities they live in. I think that awareness of the mechanisms showed during the training and the gained knowledge will also positively affect not only my work, but also me as a person.

If you could send a message to every practitioner in the ECD field about the importance of diversity and inclusion, what would it be? 

Let's listen to children, let them express their opinions, and talk about their feelings and needs. Let's be their support. Sometimes you don't need big words, just being there is enough. So, let's really be there for them. 

You can learn more about Comenius Foundation’s work on their website.