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.

Source: ddce.utexas.edu

Source: ddce.utexas.edu

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 🙂

Emanuela

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Photo and video competitions for young people

Today I’d like to write about two interesting competitions for young people you might be interested in.

Euro Foto Maratón

Euro Foto MaratonOn April 1 2013 the photo competition Euro Foto Maratón has been launched. The competition is organised by Eurodesk Slovakia and the European Regional Information Centre in Banská Bystrica and it will be open until May 5 2013. The aim of the competition is to create a mosaic of pictures of Europe, to get to know better our beautiful Old Continent and to promote mobility among as a learning tool. Young people from 15 to 30 years old are invited to send up to 3 pictures. On May 9, Europe Day 2013, the winners will be awarded nice prizes.

Here and here you can find more information (in Slovak)

Video competition on citizenship

Source: itspetime.blogspot.com

Source: itspetime.blogspot.com

The second  one is a video competition launched by the French national agency on the topic of citizenship. The competition will be open until April 22 and videos can’t be longer than 10 minutes. Participants, not older that 35 years old, can fall into 2 categories: European Voluntary Service volunteers or young people taking part in projects in the Youth in Action program.

Here and here you can find more information: (in English).

Emanuela

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.

Image

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

200 hearts for you :))

Soon have passed the 14th of February st.valentineor so-called “The Day Of The Love”. In this occasion we, the EVS volunteers in CVC – Junior, wanted to make a special surprise for you, the youngsters living in Banska Bystrica.

We have invested all our enthusiasm and fantasy to create 200 wonderful origami hearts which we distributed on the 14th of February. Actually the purpose of the campaign was to show the idea – St. Valentine, “The Day of the Love” (or whatever it is supposed to be called) should not be only once in an year. It should be every day and, what is more important, it should be for everybody. That is why we researched carefully in our resources and selected several best quotes from great people, promoting the idea we got – about the love, in all its aspects – not only the love between people in love, but also about friendship and humanity – values very important for all of us. The preparation was really good and full of a lot of fun, especially the origami workshop we organized. Than we got very valuable help from our friends – another EVS volunteers, but also AIESEC interns, living and working here in Banska Bystrica. So, it was very international, very inter cultural but also very comfortable for everybody.

On the day of the campaign everything was not quite as planned. (But as I always like to say – “Let things happen, but have a plan just in case they don’t happen naturally) We organized street action to give away to the people all the 200 hearts we have made and beside that we also offered free hugs for the more open ones. 🙂 Obviously the people really liked the origami valentines, which they can take home, so we gave all of them away much sooner than we expected. This made me really glad, because it showed us that we reached our aim – to make a nice surprise to the people, which surprise people would really like.

So I would like to say thank you to everybody who took a heart and gave us a smile in return!

I also would like to say again special thanks to the people, who made this campaign happen: Dan, Nadya, Alex, Vlad, Nara and Andy!

With a lot of love and hugs,

Vesselina

For whom the bell tolls // Komu zvonia na koniec hodiny

One of the activities that we regularly do as EVS volunteers is having conversation classes in English, French or Italian with students from different high schools in Banská Bystrica. I enjoy this activity, as it’s a way to get in touch with local young people and as it gives me the opportunity to practise the languages I speak.

Thanks to the conversation classes I also discovered a very interesting thing which happens in the Slovak schools every day. Actually, I don’t know if it’s the standard in all of them, but it definitely is in those where I have conversation classes. At the beginning and at the end of each lesson, you wouldn’t hear a standard bell, but instead, a pleasant song 🙂

I still remember that at the end of my first English conversation class, a song by Beatles was played, so I wondered if the music played was different in every classroom, according to the subject, but then I realised it was not 🙂

I really like this way of beginning and ending each lesson, but still one question remains unanswered: does every school have a special DJ in charge of the music to be played?

Emanuela

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Ako dobrovoľníci EDS pravidelne organizujeme konverzačné hodiny v angličtine, francúzštine alebo taliančine pre študentov banskobystrických stredných škôl. Tieto stretnutia mám rada, pretože sa vďaka nim dostávam do kontaktu s mladými ľuďmi z miestnej komunity a môžem si precvičovať jazyky, ktorými rozprávam.

Tiež som pri nich objavila zaujímavú vec, ktorá sa každodenne odohráva na slovenských školách. Ani vlastne neviem, či je to tak vo všetkých školách, ale určite vo všetkých tých, kam chodíme na hodiny konverzácie. Začiatok a koniec hodiny neohlasuje klasické školské zvonenie, ale príjemná pesnička J.

Doteraz si pamätám, ako na konci mojej prvej hodiny anglickej konverzácie začala hrať pieseň od skupiny Beatles. Premýšľala som, či v každej triede hrá iná pieseň podľa toho, aký majú žiaci predmet, ale potom som si uvedomila, že nie :D.

Tento nápad sa mi páči, v hlave mi však víri ešte jedna otázka: je v každej škole DJ, ktorý má na starosti hudbu?

Emanuela

Preklad: Stanislava Dengová, Jana Jašková

HYHO at Stredná Priemyselná Škola Jozefa Murgaša

One of the activities that we do as EVS volunteers in CVČ – JUNIOR is taking part to trainings and various meetings involving young people. Last week we have attended some of those meetings which took place in Stredná Priemyselná Škola Jozefa Murgaša in Banská Bystrica.

The aim of this meeting, called HYHO (Help Yourself by Helping Others), was raising awareness among young people about volunteering and speaking about the different opportunities available for those willing to volunteer both in Slovakia and abroad. So we were invited by our colleague Gabika from CVČ – JUNIOR, who held the meeting, to speak about our volunteering experience in general and then, more specifically, as EVS volunteers in Slovakia.

IMG_9749For me these meetings are really stimulating as I have an opportunity to speak Slovak and since, as I previously said, my Slovak is still far from being perfect :), as Vessy says, they are a challenge for me as speaker, but also for the listeners who have to understand what I say 😉

Another reason why these meetings are interesting is seeing the reactions of young people to what we say and answering their questions. The first question that we are asked is always why we chose Slovakia, just as if it was something peculiar. In fact, Slovakia is a really fascinating country, so the reasons to come are plenty 🙂

But during last HYHO training in Stredná Priemyselná Škola Jozefa Murgaša, after being asked why I chose Slovakia, I was very happy to answer to many other questions, especially about how I see Slovakia and about Italy, which helped me understand how Slovak people see my country. For example, I was asked what are the main differences between Italy and Slovakia, and between Italian and Slovak students, what is the attitude of Italian people towards alcohol, what is my favourite dish, what is the difference between Italian and Slovak pizza, if I like Slovak food, if it’s true that Italian men are jealous and many more.

I think that the aim of EVS is exactly this: opening a dialogue with the others to discover a different culture, but also to become more aware of your own.

Emanuela

What’s the Language Cafe?

Language CafeAre you aware that in your town there is quite a big international community? If the answer is no and if you feel like meeting young people from many different countries to practice a foreign language, to get to know different cultures or just to enjoy a chat over a glass of beer, then probably the Language Cafe would suit you.

The Language Cafe is a really informal meeting organised every Thursday in Cult Club, where people meet up and chat. You will find there quite a lot of EVS Volunteers and AISEC interns from abroad, but also some Slovaks (at the moment a rare species!). I can tell you that thanks to the Language Cafe as soon as I arrived in Banská Bystrica I immediately got new friends and I have the opportunity to practice the languages I am interested in.

To have more information, just come to the Language Cafe or join the Facebook group.

Emanuela

Join our team – Pripojte sa k nášmu tímu

Join our team – Pripojte sa k nášmu tímu

    • Do you have some free time?
    • Would you like to do something new and different?
    • Are you interested to do common activities with international volunteers in your hometown?
    • Do you want to improve your English skills?
    • Do you want to learn new things and gain experience apart from the one at school or the university?
    • Or you just want to have fun?

    So, we have an offer for you – join our team 🙂

    For the upcoming year have planned quite a lot of interesting activities, such as – taking care of the web-site, organizing movie nights, street campaigns and many other different youth initiatives. All of them are open to everybody, so you, the youngsters from Banská Bystrica or the region, are very welcome to volunteer with us.

    If you or some of your friends are interested in participating in preparation of such activity, do not hesitate to contact us!

    Looking forward to seeing you!
    Dan, Manu, Vessy, Andy

Source of the image: http://www.123rf.com

  • Máte trochu voľného času?
  • Chceli by ste robiť niečo nové iné?
  • Zaujímalo by vás robiť aktivity spolu so zahraničnými dobrovoľníkmi vo vašom domácom meste?
  • Chceli by ste si zlepšiť svoju angličtinu?
  • Chcete sa naučiť nové veci a získať iné skúsenosti, než tie zo školy alebo univerzity?
  • Alebo sa chcete len baviť?

Tak potom máme pre vás ponuku – pripojte sa k nášmu tímu 🙂

Na tento rok plánujeme pomerne veľa zaujímavých aktivít, ako napr. údržba webovej stránky, organizovanie filmových večerov, pouličné kampane a veľa rôznych iných mládežníckych iniciatív. Všetky sú otvorené pre každého, takže vy, mladí ľudia z Banskej Bystrice alebo z regiónu, ste veľmi vítaní spolupracovať s nami na týchto dobrovoľníckych aktivitách.

Ak máte vy, alebo niekto z vašich priateľov záujem zapojiť sa do prípravy takejto aktivity, neváhajte nás kontaktovať!

Tešíme sa na stretnutie!
Dan, Manu, Vessy, Andy

 

What is EVS?

ImageToday I would like to speak a bit more in detail about the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which is basically the reason why we are volunteering in Slovakia 🙂 On the basis of the questions people generally ask us, here’s some important information about EVS.

What is EVS?

The European Voluntary Service is a wonderful opportunity offered by the European Commission to young people to spend sometime volunteering abroad.

Who can apply?

Young people between 18 and 30 years old who are resident in the accredited sending organisation’s country, that’s to say in all the countries of the European Union, plus some more.

How long does EVS last?

Generally from 2 to 12 months.

What can be the projects about?

There’s a wide variety of topis ranging from environmental and animal protection to cultural heritage and arts, youth, sports, children, disabled, development cooperation and many more.

In which countries can volunteers go to for EVS?

All the European Union member states plus Iceland, Turkey, Lichtenstein, Norway, Neighbouring Partner Country, Mediterranean countries, Eastern-Europe countries, Caucasus countries. To sum it up, in all the countries where there are hosting organisations.

ImageHow do you apply?

First of all, you need to find a sending organisation in your home country, which will provide you with all the information you will need and help you looking for a project suitable for you. My advice is to think carefully about the kind of project you would like to do and about the country you would like to go. At the bottom of the page you can find the database with all the projects and the accredited EVS sending and hosting organisations. Once you have selected an interesting project, you need to prepare and send to the hosting organisation a well written cv (europass format) and motivation letter in English. Sometimes your sending organisation can help you in this step.

Do you need to have previous experience in the field of the project?

Normally you don’t. In case you do, it’s written in the description.

DSCF1216Do you need to know the language of the hosting country?

You don’t, but you should be able to communicate in English.

Do you need money to apply?

No, you don’t need to pay anything. During EVS you will receive accommodation, food and pocket money. As for the travel costs, you can be asked to pay just 10% of them.

How long before departure do you need to start researching?

To have more opportunities to be recruited for a project you are really interested in, my  advice is to start researching about 8 or at least 6 months before departure.

5What are the benefits for EVS volunteers?

During EVS you learn so many things that it’s really hard to make a complete list, but I’ll try to mention at least some of them: you increase the opportunities to find a job afterwards, you improve your English and learn another language, you get to know another culture, you become more open minded, you improve your interaction with people, you feel how good it is to help others, you get to know a lot of people from all around the world, you have a lot of fun, you have some time to stop and think about what you really want to achieve in your life, you have some time to do things you have never had time to do. I’ll stop here not to be boring, but I could go on for hours 🙂

To have more info, feel free to contact CVČ-JUNIOR, one of the accredited sending and hosting organisations in Slovakia. In addition, as volunteers we’ll be happy to answer to all your questions and curiosities.

Here’s some more material

Emanuela

EVS Christmas in Slovakia

The last year was unique – not only because of living our new life in
Slovakia, but also because of celebrations in this country. This is mostly valid for the Christmas.

It turned out, that for the holidays I and Dan didn’t go home and stayed here, in Banská Bystrica. So, we couldn’t have the traditional Christmas celebration with our families, but for sure we didn’t feel alone. Because there were some other people here, just like us – living here for a while and staying in Banská Bystrica for the holidays. Together we had our unique International Christmas celebration. Of course, it was not like having the traditional Christmas eve, we all are used to, but on its way it was really nice – who knows, when would we have again a Christmas dinner with people from England, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria at one place?

24 dec 2012

Our Christmas bread
According to the tradition it was decorated with: a cross, a sun, wheat, fence, sheep, chicken, grapes and apple. Could you find them? 😛

In my opinion the event was both – having fun and intercultural learning. I and Alex (my friend from Romania, who is an AIESEC intern in Banská Bystrica now) prepared the dinner. I was really surprised how similar the Christmas traditions are in Bulgaria and Romania (especially concerning the food :)). We had dinner consisting of: traditional Bulgarian Christmas bread, two types of salads, pork meal with sour cabbage, traditional Romanian Christmas roast with potatoes and spices and boiled wheat with honey and nuts. It was a challenge to bake the bread on my own and in the end it was suitable not only for eating (or it’s better to say “trying to eat it”) but also for a self-protection tool (in case anybody attacks you on the street :D). It was also interesting to discover that my perception of “salad” for sure is not the same like the one, which people coming from the UK or Italy have. But that’s how we had more topics for jokes and we had even much more fun. 🙂

Thinking back about it I could surely say that all my fears of having a Christmas away from home really didn’t come true and it was quite the opposite – I got a great time and I really enjoyed it. Somehow it enriched me with new experience, somehow reminded me again the old wisdom that in order to have a good time with people it is not about their nationality, it is about their personality – so this Christmas I really felt great with my new big happy family from all over the Europe. And for me the EVS Christmas in Slovakia was actually like EVS itself – you should dare to go out of the cosy home in order to find really amazing things, otherwise you can never even imagine they exist. 😉

Vesselina