Brief statements we would have liked to know at our arrival // Pár vecí, ktoré by sme boli rady vedeli ešte predtým, ako sme prišli na projekt

Living in a new city is always an adventure that, sometimes, could lead to a bad end. Here comes a summary of all the things that took us months to discover and that we would have preferred to know beforehand:  Continue reading

Good ideas from Slovakia // Zaujímavé nápady zo Slovenska

The months have passed, my project is about to end, so came my time for packing the luggage to travel back home. And to take some souvenirs, of course :)) It is really hard to chose, what to take – there are so many things I got for the almost 10 months here, but since my bag capacity is limited I should chose and take just the best things. And I have decided – beside the Horalky, Kofola and Hruškovica there is something more, which I really want to take – the good ideas from Slovakia, or things I really liked here and want to bring them home (and hope to start working there too :))

So here are the best of them:

  • School canteens – as far as I got informed, every school student can be enrolled to have lunch (consisting of soup, meal and something to drink – water or juice) in one of the canteens. I think it is a very good idea and really prevents the youngsters to get overweight consuming fast food all the time. Unfortunately in Bulgaria, despite of all the projects and efforts about it, we still don’t have this practice (or at least not in many places), but I think it would be good to take this idea and try to implement it still (well, maybe soup and meal would be too much for us, but just one of them would be a perfect replacement of the hamburger)
  • School competitions, subject olympiads and scientific conferences for students – since my hosting organization for my voluntary service was center organizing such kind of events, I got the opportunity to get to know more about these activities. Well, if I have to be accurate we also have some sport competitions and school olympiads in Bulgaria, and as a student I have participated in many of them (but usually they are organized just in some schools, they don’t take place very often and not for all subjects…). Here in Slovakia these activities are organized by organizations, which are not schools (which I find it a good idea – firstly, these organizations have the capacity to invite teachers from different schools to evaluate the work of the students and secondly, that looks more fair to me). Also once I had the great chance to see a scientific conference for high school students (Stredoškolská odborná činnosť). And it was really amazing – on the conference participated students from different schools and professional gymnasiums, each of them had prepared and presented an own project in one of the many topics (mathematics and physics; pedagogy, psychology and sociology; economics; history, philosophy and law sciences; informatics; building and architecture; health and pharmacology and many more). I even saw some of the presentations and they were so professional, so I was really fascinated by these young high-school students…
  • Divadlo z Pasáže  or as we call it “Special theatre” – it is a theatre where work people with mental disabilities (and I have seen some of their shows – they are really good). I think it is a really great idea – it is unique opportunity for these people to do something good for them and good for the society, but also a way to solve really many problems, in my opinion…
  • Nice eco-/ eco- and art- communities situated in small villages – here in Slovakia i got to know about several organizations, situated in different small villages, working to promote ecological style of living, but also some of them make very nice art. Here are just some examples, about which I got to know, but for sure there are more: PERIFÉRNE CENTRÁ, situated in Dúbravica, Zaježka in Zaježova, Alter-Nativa organization in Brdárka, Prencov 60 Theater in Prencov and many more. I think it is very brave but really great idea to create and run such organization in so small communities. I wish in Bulgaria we also have them (or maybe we have them, but I am just not aware about them – so thanks to Slovakia I know that they could exist and try to search them ;))
  • Cool campaigns – I got to know two very nice campaigns, run here, which I really like and for sure would like to “bring back home” (maybe there are much more, but I didn’t get to know about them). The first of them targets the parents and tries to make them more aware about the fact how important is to spend time with their children: Viac mesta pre detiviac mestoThe second one is also very good idea – it tries to encourage people to buy local products: “Vyrobené na Slovensku” -> and the Slogan of this campaign says that if every Slovak spends just 1 Euro per day to buy products, made in Slovakia, that would assure a work for 100 000 people a year (Amazing, isn’t it? That make to want bringing this idea to Bulgaria even more – we all constantly complain that we don’t have work and every factory is closed, but we all go for the cheap Turkish and Chinese goods…)
  • Transport (don’t get me wrong – in Bulgaria we also have transport and I actually like it, but not in a way they have it here). For example
    • The local transport – I was amazed how punctual the local transport is here – when people go to the bus stop, they can see at what time comes the bus. And if it is written that bus number 4 comes at 14:07, it really comes at 14:07 – not at 14:06 or 14:08 (even though on every bus stop the driver has to wait all the people to get on board and to buy tickets before the bus leaves)
    • Cestovné poriadky super amazing web-site where you can check how to get from town A to village B with all the possible variations of bus/ train/ bus and train connections (also have new addition – air planes). I find that amazing, because everybody can easily check and plan his/ her trip just with several clicks (for people, who don’t know Slovak there is also English and German version).
  • Neighbourhood communities – when I came first here, I got to know about the procedure of keeping the living block clean – every neighbour has to clean every two weeks the floor and the stairs in front of their apartment, in the winter there is also snow service – every week there is a different family from the block, which is on duty to clean the snow in front of the building (well, in my country we usually have another practise – people from the block hire somebody to clean – maybe in this case is better to give employment to somebody, even for very small salary). But later during my stay in Slovakia I got to know that the local community spirit is really stronger than I thought – the different neighbours in the city have some local organization (for example the neighbour I live in Banska Bystrica – I got to know about their blog/ site from an advert, which was on the entrance door of the house, announcing an upcoming flea market in the neighbourhood, organized by and for the people living here). But after that I got to know that they organize many more things. The same applies also for a neighbourhood in Zvolen, who has organized a very nice sport- and children-games activity two weeks ago and even one EVS volunteer participated there.
  • Funny expressions – well, I have to be honest that unfortunately I didn’t do my best to enrich my Slovak language vocabulary as much as it was possible. But anyway, I got to know some expressions, which I really like and would like to bring home (and even at some point they could be even understood by my Bulgarian friends) – for example “Mám rád/a” (I can’t explain why, but I really like this expression), “Ježiš” (in the beginning I was really wondering why every time when something goes wrong the Slovak people call the hedgehog – in my language Ježko is the fairytale name for the hedgehog, but just some months later I learned the truth :P) and of course my favourite “Moje nervy” (which will always remind me of some really great people I met here :))

Well, I guess my bag pack is quite full already and I should slowly go to the end (another nice expression, which I “met” for the first time here 🙂

So, thank you very much, Slovakia, for being such a nice host for me! I promise to visit you someday again with a bag full of good things from Bulgaria.

With a lot of smiles,


Desať mesiacov ubehlo ako voda a moja dobrovoľnícka služba sa chýli ku koncu. Je čas zbaliť si kufre a vrátiť sa domov. Pri balení však nemožno zabudnúť na suveníry :)). Počas pobytu na Slovensku som dostala mnoho darčekov, preto je ťažké sa rozhodnúť, čo si vziať so sebou. Keďže kufor má len určitý objem, mala by som si vybrať len tie najlepšie. Rozhodla som sa, že si chcem domov zobrať okrem horaliek, Kofoly a hruškovice ešte niečo – zaujímavé slovenské nápady, ktoré sa mi veľmi zapáčili (pričom dúfam, že sa v Bulharsku rozbehnú rovnako dobre ako tu :).)

Medzi tie najlepšie patria:

  • školské jedálne – každý žiak či študent na Slovensku má možnosť chodiť na obedy do školskej jedálne (obed zahŕňa polievku, druhé jedlo a nápoj – vodu alebo džús). Podľa mňa je to veľmi šikovné riešenie. Mladí ľudia sa tak môžu vyhnúť nadváhe, ktorou často trpia kvôli stravovaniu sa vo fast foodoch. Napriek všetkým snahám a projektom v tejto oblasti sa v Bulharsku ani naďalej mladým neposkytuje zdravá strava (ak aj áno, tak len na niektorých miestach). No aj tak si myslím, že by sme tento nápad mali zrealizovať aj u nás (možno by sme nezjedli polievku aj druhé naraz, no aj jeden z chodov by bol prospešnou náhradou za nezdravý hamburger).
  • školské súťaže, predmetové olympiády a vedecké konferencie pre študentov – o týchto aktivitách som sa dozvedela vďaka tomu, že organizácia, v ktorej prebiehala moja dobrovoľnícka služba, sama organizuje podobné podujatia. Aby som uviedla veci na správnu mieru, aj v Bulharsku máme športové súťaže a školské olympiády a ako študentka som sa aj mnohých zúčastnila (prebiehajú však len na niektorých školách a len vo vybraných predmetoch…). Na Slovensku tieto aktivity uskutočňujú iné inštitúcie ako školy (čo pokladám za veľmi dobrú myšlienku z niekoľkých dôvodov – po prvé, pre zhodnotenie práce študentov pozývajú inštitúcie učiteľov z viacerých škôl, po druhé, takto je to férovejšie). Raz som sa dokonca dostala na vedeckú konferenciu pre stredné školy (Stredoškolská odborná činnosť). Účastníkmi boli študenti z rôznych škôl a gymnázií. Ich úlohou bolo predstaviť projekt, ktorý sami vypracovali na jednu zo stanovených tém (matematika a fyzika, pedagogika, psychológia a sociológia, ekonomika, história, filozofia a právo, informatika, stavebníctvo a architektúra, zdravie a farmakológia atď.). Niektoré prezentácie boli na veľmi vysokej úrovni, čím na mňa slovenskí stredoškoláci poriadne zapôsobili…
  • Divadlo z Pasáže, alebo ako ho voláme my – „Špeciálne divadlo“, je divadlo, v ktorom účinkujú ľudia s mentálnym postihnutím (videla som niekoľko ich predstavení a sú skutočne dobrí). Táto myšlienka je podľa mňa úžasná. Pre účinkujúcich predstavuje jedinečnú príležitosť urobiť niečo dobré pre seba i pre spoločnosť a zároveň je to spôsob, ako vyriešiť mnoho problémov…
  • eko a umelecké komunity v malých dedinách – zistila som, že na Slovensku funguje niekoľko organizácií sídliacich v rôznych malých dedinách, v ktorých sa presadzuje ekologický životný štýl alebo sa vytvárajú krásne umelecké výtvory. Patria medzi ne napr.: Periférne centrá v Dúbravici, Zaježka v Zaježove, združenie Alter Nativa v Brdárke, Prencov 60 Theater v Prenčove a mnoho ďalších. Myslím, že vytváranie a riadenie organizácií tohto typu v takých malých komunitách je veľmi odvážna, no zároveň obdivuhodná myšlienka. Kiežby sme v Bulharsku tiež také mali! (A možno aj máme, len ich zatiaľ nepoznám. No vďaka Slovensku viem, že existujú a že je možné ich vyhľadať ;).)
  • skvelé kampane – na Slovensku prebiehajú dve kampane, ktoré by som určite chcela „priniesť domov“ (možno ich je oveľa viac, len som sa o nich nedozvedela). Prvá z nich s názvom Viac miesta pre deti je zameraná na rodičov. Pomáha im uvedomiť si, aké dôležité je tráviť čas so svojimi deťmi. Druhá s názvom Vyrobené na Slovensku povzbudzuje ľudí k tomu, aby si kupovali domáce výrobky. Motto kampane naznačuje, že ak by každý Slovák minul 1 euro denne na domáci produkt, zabezpečila by sa tým práca pre 100 000 ľudí na rok (Nie je to úžasné? To ma ešte viac pohýna k tomu, aby sa táto myšlienka zaviedla aj v Bulharsku – ustavične sa sťažujeme na nedostatok práce a zatvorené továrne, no zároveň všetci nakupujeme lacné výrobky z Turecka a Číny…)
  • doprava (nechápte ma zle, aj v Bulharsku máme dopravu a v podstate sa mi páči, no funguje iným spôsobom ako tu), napríklad:
    • miestna doprava – na Slovensku ma milo prekvapila dochvíľnosť šoférov. Ľudia si na zastávke môžu pozrieť odchody autobusov. Ak je napísané, že má štvorka prísť 14:07, tak príde 14:07. Ani o minútu skôr, ani o minútu neskôr (a to napriek tomu, že šofér musí na každej zastávke počkať, kým všetci ľudia nastúpia a zakúpia si cestovný lístok ešte predtým, ako sa autobus pohne).
    • cestovné poriadky – super webová stránka, kde si môžete zistiť všetky možné spojenia z mesta A do dediny B – linky pre autobusy, vlaky alebo oboje (najnovšie už aj lety). Stačí len zopár kliknutí a každý si môže naplánovať alebo skontrolovať svoju cestu (pre tých, ktorí nehovoria po slovensky, stránka ponúka aj anglickú a nemeckú verziu).
  • susedské spolužitie – keď som prvýkrát prišla na Slovensko, dozvedela som sa, že tu má každá rodina v bytovke na starosti upratovanie – raz za dva týždne musí umyť dlážku a schody pred svojím bytom. V zime sa k tomu pridáva aj odpratávanie snehu spred bytovky – pričom sa rodiny striedajú každý týždeň (v Bulharsku máme iný systém – obyvatelia bytovky si na tieto služby nájdu a zaplatia človeka. V tomto prípade sa mi zdá lepšie niekoho zamestnať, aj keď len za malý plat). Neskôr som si všimla, že miestny duch susedstva je oveľa silnejší, ako som si myslela. Jednotlivé mestské časti si vytvárajú vlastné miestne organizácie (napríklad štvrť v Banskej Bystrici, v ktorej žijem – o ich blogu resp. webovej stránke som sa dozvedela z oznamu visiacom na vchodových dverách, ktorý upozorňoval na nadchádzajúci blší trh v danej časti mesta. Pripravovali ho miestni pre miestnych. Po čase som zistila, že organizujú ešte mnoho ďalších aktivít. To isté platí o Zvolene. Pred dvoma týždňami tam miestna komunita zorganizovala veľmi milé športové podujatie s hrami pre deti, na ktorom sa dokonca zúčastnil aj jeden dobrovoľník EDS.
  • vtipné výrazy – úprimne musím uznať, že som neurobila maximum preto, aby som sa naučila po slovensky čo najviac. Napriek tomu som sa naučila niekoľko výrazov, ktoré som si veľmi obľúbila a chcem si ich odniesť so sebou domov (do určitej miery im možno budú rozumieť aj moji kamaráti v Bulharsku). Napríklad „mám rád/a“ (neviem vám vysvetliť prečo, ale tento výraz sa mi naozaj páči), ďalej „Ježiš!“ (Najprv mi prišlo divné, že vždy keď sa ľuďom na Slovensku niečo nepodarí, spomenú ježka. Až po niekoľkých mesiacoch som zistila, čo to v skutočnosti znamená.) a samozrejme obľúbené „Moje nervy!“ (ktoré mi vždy pripomenie niektorých úžasných ľudí, ktorých som tu stretla :).)

Myslím, že môj kufor je už dosť plný a mala by som pomaly končiť (ďalšie milé slovné spojenie, s ktorým som sa tu stretla po prvýkrát :).

Tak ti, milé Slovensko, ďakujem za hrejivé prijatie! Sľubujem, že sa raz vrátim s kufrom plným zaujímavých nápadov z Bulharska.

S pozdravom,


Preklad: Jana Jašková, Stanislava Dengová

One week as EVS volunteer in CVČ-JUNIOR

If I think that we’ve been in Slovakia for 7 months now, I almost don’t believe it… Time flies! In just 3 months, in the end of July, our project will be over 😦 and in the beginning of October new volunteers will come.

This is just the period when Andy, our coordinator, starts looking  for the new volunteers, that’s why in this post I’ll describe my typical week as EVS volunteer in CVČ-JUNIOR, so that wanna-be volunteers can have a more precise idea of what they would do here in case they were selected.



First of all, I would like to make it clear that this is just my typical week here, and it doesn’t mean that all the volunteers do the same thing. For example, Vessy does many things that I don’t do and viceversa. Actually, one of the best things about EVS volunteering is that you can choose the activities that are most interesting for you. So, I’ll now speak about what I did in the week from April 8 to April 12.

Monday, April 8

At 9 am I arrive at the office and, after checking my email and the news, I start preparing a post for this blog. At the beginning of the project, we created this blog and since I quite like writing posts, I was given the task to maintain it, so I try to write at least one post per week and I normally start writing or thinking about it on Monday morning. At about 10.30 am Andy comes to our office and we have our weekly meeting, during which we speak about what we did the previous week and plan the activities of the current week. At noon, we go to the canteen for lunch. The canteen is in the same building of the office and I can say that food is quite good 🙂 Everyday there are 5 different options (at least one of them is vegetarian), but you need to choose which one you want one day earlier by stamping the lunch ticket. In the afternoon, I work a bit on the preparation of our first movie night on LGBTI which will take place on May 17. For example, this activity was totally my choice. I wanted to do it as I’m interested in the topic and I love cinema. At 2 pm I leave the office.

Tuesday, April 9

Like every Tuesday, at 8 am I attend my Slovak formal class, which is for me always a great pleasure, as every week I learn many interesting things not only about the Slovak language, but also about the Slovak culture and history thanks to my fantastic teacher. Learning the language of your hosting country is always part of EVS, and in my opinion it’s really a great opportunity. At 10.30 am I arrive at the office and help Vessy who has already started preparing the activities for our weekly Wednesday session with the actors of Divadlo z Pasáže. EVS volunteers hosted by CVČ-JUNIOR have been doing this activity for some years. It’s one of our regular activities and in my opinion it’s really rewarding, it boosts your creativity and makes you feel useful. At noon I go to lunch and in the afternoon I work a bit on the movie night preparation. I leave the office at 2 pm.

Wedneday, April 10

Normally on Wednesday morning I go to a local school where I have French conversation classes with students, but this Wednesday is not going to be a traditional Wednesday as there is a special event organised by CVČ-JUNIOR where we are going to help out: the Geography Olympics, a competition among students. So at 8 am Vessy and I go to the building where the olympics will take place and we prepare the premises. My task is to put numbers on every table in a set order, so that every participant knows exactly where his / her place is. After the Olympics, we go for lunch to the canteen and then from 1 pm to 3 pm we (Vessy, Andy and I) have our session with the actors of Divadlo z Pasáže. For this week, Vessy has prepared many games and also a nice song in Slovak: we sing it and Andy plays it on the guitar.

Thursday, April 11

At 8 am, as every Thursday morning, I hold French conversation classes. At 9 am I arrive at the office and, together with Vessy, we start preparing the activities for our weekly Thursday session with the children of a Special School, a group of about 15 children with special needs. This is another regular activity that EVS volunteers hosted by CVČ-JUNIOR have been doing for some years. At noon we quickly have lunch and then we (Vessy, Andy and I) rush not to miss the bus to go to the Special School. Our session is from 1 pm to 3 pm and today we have prepared a song. They are happy to sing it, but above all, all of them want to try playing the guitar, to Andy’s delight 🙂

Friday, April 12

At 9 am I arrive at the office and I check my email and the news. At 10 am I have Slovak informal class with Andy. As I said, with Andy we have informal classes: he doesn’t teach us grammar, but we rather do more practical things, tailored  to our specific needs and interests. At noon, I have lunch in the canteen. After lunch I work a bit on the movie night preparation and at 3 pm I leave the office and my weekend begins 🙂

So this was quite a typical week, except that during that specific week I didn’t manage to meet my mentor (every EVS volunteer has one mentor, who is a local person who helps the volunteer get integrated in the hosting country). I should also add that, apart from our regular activities, we often take part in irregular activities, such as presentations in school, sport competitions, school competitions, etc.

So good luck to future volunteers and if you need more information don’t hesitate to ask 🙂


Let’s finger-paint!

Last week was for me quite unusual as my mum came for a visit to celebrate Easter. We travelled a bit throughout Slovakia, we ate some Slovak specialities and cooked Italian Easter traditional dishes.

Since my mum worked for many years with people with special needs, I asked her to join us on our weekly session with Divadlo z Pasáže. Given her experience, I also asked her to suggest which activity we should do, and her suggestion was finger-painting. Basically, her idea was to draw a tree and then ask all the actors to draw what’s on it – flowers, leaves, animals – and paint them with temperas, but instead of using paint brushes, they would use their fingers. Finally they stick what they had painted on the tree.

To avoid spilling temperas on the clothes (but, to be honest, also to make it funnier 🙂 ) we also wore big garbage bags with holes for the head and the arms as aprons. Of course we didn’t manage to prevent all “accidents” 🙂

Janko and my mum

Janko and my mum

This is the result, but of course the most important thing was that we had a lot of fun. I hope that this idea will be also useful to somebody else 🙂


Photo exhibition “My EVS life”

One of the best things about EVS is having the opportunity to fully express your creativity. An EVS project is not something fixed: it is quite flexible and it gives volunteers the opportunity to adapt the activities to their skills, desires and the favourite topics.

With this spirit, an EVS volunteer in Belarus decided to organise a pictures exhibition whose title is “My EVS life“. The aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness among people in Belarus on volunteering in general and the EVS program in particular.

Since I really liked this idea, I also sent my picture.


In the picture there is Peťo, one of the actors from the theatre company Divadlo z Pasáže, during one of our weekly activities.

Learning the names of the animals in English

One of our weekly regular activity as EVS volunteers in CVČ-Junior is meeting the actors of Divadlo z Pasáže, a community-based theatre that works with people with mental disabilities. Every week we organise different activities with them, ranging from handicraft, to cooking, teaching simple words in our language and many more. (Here you can see some pictures from some or the activities we have prepared so far).

Today I would like to write about last week’s activity as I think it could be a good suggestion for somebody else, but above all because I really had a lot of fun 🙂

The aim of the activity was to teach the actors the names of some animals in English. So we selected about 10 among the most common animals and we prepared some domino cards with the pictures and the names of the animals (on different cards, because later we played domino with them, but I’ll go back to the game later).


Danka’s imitation of the lion

So we showed every actor / actress one of the pictures that we had prepared. His / her task was to imitate the animal in that picture with gestures and sounds, until the others understood which animal he / she was imitating. This part was extremely funny and the actors proved very creative in their imitations! Once the actors had understood the animal, Andy wrote the name both in Slovak and in English on the flipchart and then the group repeated the name several times in English with Dan.

In the last part of the activity, we played domino with the cards we had prepared: we randomly chose the first card (in which there was a picture of one animal and the name of a different animal) and then the actors, one after the other, had to find the card with the corresponding picture and name of the animals in the first card, and so forth until the end of the cards.