In the End(re)

Change. That is the key word of society and civilization. Without change innovation and developement can?t be possible. Neither inside or outside. It was also the keyword for my life as a child. I went to 5 different schools in 3 different places, two different continents during my childhood. When I just started to make a group of friends I had to move and this happened until 2001, when we moved back to Budapest, Hungary. There I stayed for 9 years, too long of a period for a journeyman like me. I needed change, I craved for it. I was never born to stay in Hungary. So I decided to jump into a new challenge, embark on a new journey. This time though it was different. In the period I spent in my country I developed a bad habit of not finishing l, not following through with my goals, one of them being to learn polish, which I started and stopped at university. So that?s what I decided to finish, but since school was not the best place to study, I thought I would try to live in Poland. And that is when I met EVS, and applied to go to it. So it happened that I did not get accepted to that project. I would have helped blind children in Laski, but I guess I was not considered good enough.

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One year later an other opportunity came up. My sending organization showed me a few planned projects in Poland, and one of them caught my eye. I had a chance to work with children in Krakow and I took it since I wanted to work with them after the year is done. This time luckily I did get chosen, which made me very excited. Like with everything I do in life, my excitement as turned into motivation and drove me to create half-baked plans and fantasies on how I will change the childrens’ lives with my fantastic programs and activities. I wrote up many activities in my head an on paper what I can do with the kids. I also wrote up what I wanted to change in myself.

Back in Hungary, I was not out-going, I was a gray shadow of myself. The problem was, I had an urge a craving to be THE MAN, to be that person everyone turns to when they need help. But the proper tools, the skills I needed were not in my possession, and my ‘understandable’ speech was not helping either. Anyway I decided to dedicate the ten months for this. Well my motivated self did at least, in the outcome was not so good. Even though I got a lot of opportunities to get help, in the end, subconsciously and consciously I chose the easy path and a slow mellow death to the motivated me in the lukewarm pool of comfort, familiarity and nothingness. As it happened, I chose to jump back into the Jacuzzi where I stayed too long already and was uncomfortable, than follow the uncomfortable path to a deeper, more fulfilling ocean, the vast collection of skills.

I am grateful for life for giving me the help that I would have needed to get to the ocean. My project was great, and the people I was with even better. In my flat, I lived with 3 other volunteers at least, two of which I could have used to help me in my goals much more. With a brief detour I would like to mention that all the volunteers were great, had an impact on me and I will cherish them, but these two had some skills I lack so much. First my colleague, a goal driven, ambitious young girl from Ukraine who loved to share her thoughts. Her attitude should have rubbed off on me. The second a great leader, creative, demanding and unique roommate of mine, a person named Mouslim. They were the ones I could have taken a lot from, but I threw them away in my mood of mediocrity and nihil. The others are a colorful bunch, have many great traits and I had great times with them.

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My project was also one of the best. In there I practically could have done anything I wanted to. My ?boss? was ambitious, thoughtful, creative and her colleagues as well. They would help in any way they could. The possibilities were endless. They made many diverse and unique events and competitions for the kids. We went to museums, plays, did sports events, thought them about other cultures, anything you name, we did. They pushed me, yet I did not push myself hard enough and backed up sometimes at a challenge. To everyone witnessing my free-fall into the nihil, sorry, to those who are reading this post before, or during your EVS: don’t be like me. Use your time wisely and creatively, initiate and live your dream (or just create it first if you do not know what it is).

Meet Mari(a)

Hello! I’m Mari(a), I come from Spain and I am going to try to sum up my last eight months volunteering at the Special School nr 11 and living in Kraków.IMG_20160602_123621811

I always say that the best adventures are those you don’t plan in advance. And in this case, it happened to be true. An autumn night, bored at home, I was checking facebook and by chance I saw a post from an EVS vacancy that looked nice. “I’ll ask, why not?” I thought. Some weeks after I was in Kraków. Oops.

If I have to describe my experience shortly, I would say it has been a tornado of feelings. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I felt down, I felt euphoric. Sometimes all of them at the same time -yes, that is possible-. When you don’t have your best friends to speak with next to you -as Spaniards would do, meet for a coffee or a beer and have the longest conversation ever-, you have to figure it out somehow, so in my case I started to write a diary.

IMG_20160623_102019488So I remember how I woke up on the first of December, I had my breakfast with instant coffee (the worst creation ever, but this is Poland), and I spent my first day in the school. I would like to say it was great, but actually it was a huge disaster: people didn’t know English, everything was so unusual, I understood nothing. “Just look how we work today” they said. So many thoughts came to my mind: How am I going to communicate here? With signs? Google translator?! Where am I? What will become of me? Will I even survive two weeks? And I came back home as tired as if I went to three triathlons in a row. But it seems that I have finally survived.

RIMG1947Even though at the beginning I had mixed feelings towards the school, at the end it happened to be a very thoughtful and nice experience. I have learnt a lot from teachers, assistants, students, and volunteers. A lot about myself and my limits, my skills, my strengths and my weaknesses. A lot about Poland. A bit about life.

We have been doing many different activities in the school during all these months. We even created our own performance and we had our premiere! And we have eaten so many cakes. I have tried every single cake in Kraków, I am sure! But it is not all about the activities we did but about the environment I was in, in my opinion. I could have been a volunteer in a similar place in my hometown, but I am sure it wouldn’t have been the same.

I can’t forget to say that I was so lucky to share my days in the school with three other great volunteers who made my days better, who I shared so many coffees with and who hugged me when I needed a big bear hug (and when I didn’t need it as well) :))

But there is a volunteer life out of the school. And it is just great. I remember how I met all volunteers during the volunteer’s day and after all, so many things started to happen so fast. Impossible to explain in here. Suddenly plans popped up, so maybe you were at home and after ten minutes you were heading to some event, some dinner, some costume party, some whatever. Always something.

Because the volunteer life is an other lifestyle that teaches us really useful skills (EVS teaches me something!): money management (you have to survive with 700 zl per month and you struggle to save money for partying and traveling), cooking (you taste and cook food from so many parts of the world), creativity (you create everything you need from recycled materials, buying furniture is so overrated!), and languages, of course. Plus extra-skills you learn from other volunteers, like decoupage, how to peel a pineapple -yes, that happened-, how to paint Easter eggs and even archery!

12717855_951302788251845_4171789093270771738_nAnd then, it happens that you are so busy doing so many things and, at all once, you realize those eight months that seemed such a long time are over. And suddenly every day you have to bid farewell to a different volunteer. And that is the only bad part of the EVS. But I am sure some of these friendships will last forever -we have already said we will meet when one of the volunteers will get married ;)-. Because without the volunteers, my EVS wouldn’t have been the same!

As a final thing, remember that to nie już koniec but it has just started :)!

Thanks for reading 🙂