The holy grail of my ESC

From February 3 to 7, I attended the Mid-term evaluation training in Novi Sad (Sremski Karlovci), an activity aimed at all the volunteers who are currently carrying out their European volunteering (ESC) projects in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Albania.

The training meeting place and a place to exchange experiences consisted of several sessions in small working groups, where we were able to reflect on our experiences, the difficulties encountered and the positive things we have experienced, with special attention to recognising what we have learned while carrying out our projects.

The training served to detect difficulties, aspects to improve and, in short, to better understand what we are doing during our volunteering service and think about how we can improve it. The very #active event was organized as a series of workshops, trainings and reflections, starting in Sremski Karlovci and the surrounding hills, chapels, gardens, fortresses of Novi Sad. We were given with the opportunity to reflect while having a walking tour around the city where we temporary lived. This was a new and interesting approach to evaluations, and the participants enjoyed it very much.

In such way the participants started their training with discussions about their experiences so far, reflected on what they learned, participated in group activities such as group reflection.

But the starting point was like:

We began our mid-term meeting that way: imagine you were a super hero… Thus, we had to pic one picture of one hero and explain why we took that one… Mine was a Swan, mostly because I am the total similarity, I feel… Especially, while wafting every new week for the new adventures…

I was so happy to present my volunteering activity through this cover picture, I also was no less happy to see all my lovely EVS/ESC colleagues again. Everyone enjoyed the getting back together and even the quiet and introvert people showed that they became more confident in language and appearance. A nice part of the meeting was the “heroes journey” that we pulled over our EVS/ESC experience. The aim for us was to find a hero that fits us in order to tell our “heroes journey”. So what should I say about my hero? It’s my Swan – white, lovely and brave, cute though. My story was called “Sleeping beauty- the big wake up” and I’m like that swan in the lake trying to spring young people out of their apathy. But as long as people are waiting for some big change that they don’t know what it will be I will have a hard time to engage them for the small things in their community. The holy grail of my story is obviously a better and clear perspective for my further life… still not in sight.

We have dedicated an important part of the training course to thinking about what will come next, once our projects are finished and how these volunteering experiences can help us in the future. We talked about the Youthpass certificate and got to know several programs from which we can benefit in the future, to continue doing the things that interest us the most.

Through the next days we discussed on:

How to structure the workshop scenario,

How to develop a personal project so far,

How to arrange Flea market sharing,

How to create a cover for our ESC journeys.

Next to the program we had some interesting sightseeing in Sremski Karlovci – a city that really cares about sustainable economy and tourism. From the hostel which is an ecological center, to the local winery that produces Bermet– a dessert vine that is only produced in Sremski Karlovci and was served on the Titanic, to the grammar school which is the oldest secondary school in Serbia that has a library right from the Harry Potter movies. Our training – no matter how small it is – can make a difference and bring many different people on one table to start a discussion and to break stereotypes.

Thanks to the activity I realised what has been my personal learning process during my project and the great opportunity I have been given to discover and experience new, interesting and, also, challenging things.

The project “YOU are the EU” is funded by the Agency for Mobility and EU programmes withing the program European Solidarity Corps.

you are the eu