Firstly, I moved to Croatia for doing my short-term volunteering service on the 5th of May 2019, but than a little later I became even happier person after starting a long-term. It was maybe the easiest decision in my life, as I was/am completely crazy about Croatia and the Balkans in overall.
I just remembering, when the Croatian National Agency invited me to the first arrival training held in the north-east of Croatia to a small village named Orahovica. As me and other EVS/ESC volunteers arrived here, we met with a great community willing to know us, one of the best workshops, where we were making new friends and learning a lot of things how to become a real Volunteer.
In a double-quick I joined the team in our organization Ocean Znanja and started figuring out the best way to prepare and implement my project. The first months were mainly dedicated to this, getting to know the place, the people, the way people work and of course, how we organize our working time. With my super cool Supervisor, Mentor, volunteer colleagues from Ukraine, Croatia, Italy etc. my first step was to prepare with workshops in specific fields through searching for the exceptional people to share their knowledge with young generation.
With the help of my Supervisor I managed to put on the screen more and more things: video reports of on-arrival events, interviews of local or foreigners, short solidarity ideas for shooting, and my personal project. This project is a very important part to me, it’s the symbol of an achievement after spending almost 1 year of my life here in Zagreb.
I have to admit, in the beginning, it was also language challenge, because even though I understood Croatian, I couldn’t speak it well. But thinking of it now, I know it was part of a process, a process of active learning, an experience that made me grow so fast in a short period of time, that motivated me to have patience. I think this was the first lesson my ESC taught me: have patience, take things easier, learn to enjoy the process and, one day, when you less expect it, you will get where you want to be. In the end, all good things worth waiting for take time… Another lesson is that I am really grateful to all, who were around me, influencing, helping, enjoying and experiencing amazing time in Croatia. These people have also had patience with me, they opened their arms and warmly welcomed me in their big family.
They did not give me a set of rules and strict indications of how to instead they gave me the freedom to explore and discover, they let me be myself, they trusted me, sometimes even more than I did myself, they let me sculpt my own wings and step by step they let me fly and choose which way to go. And, undoubtedly, this is the third lesson my EVS taught me: trust people, love them, help them grow, because when you learn, teach, when you get, give. My EVS is everything that I am. And, to go further with the lessons my EVS taught me is to know that you are valuable, that your actions count, being as small as they are, that, there will come a moment in life when all those skills and competences you once acquired could be of help.
One of the most exciting things about my EVS is having the chance to work in diverse activities, with aim to help the organization in helping the society there in a variety ways, a lot of workshops/events/international projects/meetings conducted by this organization with the aim to help the young people especially.
As my project was specialized on the solidarity term and the exeptional individuals who are doing solidarity acts for their local communities, I started to help the organization in making videos about such acts, interviews, so on. All this we were doing in cooperation with another volunteer of Ocean Znanja – Luis.
At the same time my personal project had started. Its name – Coffee Talk. I was thinking about the creation of something like a platform for young people to discuss current news, events, offer solutions, or just get all together to be inspired by each other with also having fun & making new friendships.
We did a lot of info points to let the people, especially the young people in Zagreb city, know more about what we are doing for helping the community. I talked about my EVS story in the Philosophy Faculty, Department of the Ukrainian Studies at the University of Zagreb, at the first it was hard to be accepted by the young people, but after that they welcomed it, and many of them try to search and to know more about it, I also can’t forget the moment sharing while giving interview to the RadioStudent, my first interview about ESC activities in Croatian language, where I told how young people can be the volunteers and where they can do it. As my hobby is taking photos, the organization helped me to make my photos for the many exchange projects I was, as well participated in.
I also can for a very long time reflect on my online live Coffee workshops, which have being run with the speakers who are focusing their lifelong activities on the mental, spiritual, physical, emotional well-beings.
I firstly in my life survived through the earthquake while living abroad + such worldwide drama as self-isolation in a foreign country.
“You are the EU”, was the name of my ESC project. After 10 months I believe that everyone can name herself/himself the EU, everyone of us is in the power to change the world to be a better world with peace and knowledge. And change doesn’t always have to be big to be meaningful, change can be cumulative, change can start small and increase gradually, but change should never stop.
My ESC just finishing, but I’ve learned a lot of things, I met new people and they became my best friends, new culture, new language and a lot of things during this period, unforgettable time, and the memory will stay forever.
Apart of all these video stories I also volunteered in other things, supported my colleagues in their projects, gave a hand on local volunteering activities, went to school to present ESC program… And of course I took time to travel around the Balkans, meeting new people and discovering places I would have never thought to go to!
From this experience, I take out endless new life lessons. A wonderful opportunity to travel and discover a new culture, challenge myself by working in Croatian and English, learning to take initiative and be independent… I will never forget this place and how it had been influencing my life.
The project “YOU are the EU” is funded by the Agency for Mobility and EU programmes withing the program European Solidarity Corps.