Living Libraries // Živé knižnice

Last Friday, I became more or less incidentally, but fortunately, a book in a living library. What does this actually mean though? Before I experienced it first-hand, I had no idea myself. A day before, our coordinator told me that the organizers of the Living Library were missing one book, and asked me if I was interested in becoming a substitute. As I had only faintly heard before that this concept was a strong tool in human rights education, I thought it was a good opportunity now to learn more about it. So the idea behind Living Libraries is the following: people act as book, they tell their story, others listen to it, and after some time the story finishes and the book is returned to the library. Telling a story is, among other things,  a means to confront people with their prejudices and stereotypes, whether it is about homosexuality, disabilities, depression or addictions – or any other topic people tend to be silent about.  Continue reading

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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

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 🙂

DSCF1739Emanuela