What are the European Solidarity Corps projects and why did I decide to volunteer in France?

Nowadays there’re lots of possibilities to discover Europe by participating in different types of projects and initiatives. European Solidarity Corps is an EU mobility which was created in order to improve people’s competencies thanks to informal education. It gives a chance to young people age from 18 to 30 years old to acquire new experience, live in a new country and look at life from a different perspective.

The projects can vary depending on their type. Participants can volunteer on the topics of education, social inclusion, environment, culture, refugee crisis, etc. Volunteering usually lasts between 2 and 12 months and lets young people engage in the daily work of the organization of their choice. The costs of accommodation and food are covered. Also, participants receive a small allowance for personal expenses. Thus, it is possible to acquire new experiences with a small budget.

I decided to change the environment I live in and engage myself in the ESC mobility project for a couple of reasons. After finishing my studies, I worked in a corporation in Krakow in Poland and then in a small company in Lviv, Ukraine. I did my bachelor’s studies in the field of international relations and my master’s in Economics. After finishing my university and working for almost a year at a couple of companies I still wasn’t sure if I am on the right path. I realized that working in corporations is something distinct from what I expected, so, I decided to look for the possibilities to volunteer abroad and refresh my thoughts about career, studies and work. Before, I have volunteered at similar short-term projects in Brazil, Morocco and Italy and know that this kind of change gives a lot of impressions and inspiration. This time, the mobility lasts 10 months and I have a possibility to immerse myself in the society I live in more deeply and get involved in the project at a different level.

The school I volunteer in is called “MFR Bournezeau”. It’s a type of educational establishment (half lycée and half collège) where students make an apprenticeship in horse riding and grooming. After finishing the studies and passing the “bac” in “MFR Bournezeau” the students either continue to study at school or start working with horses on a professional basis. People here are in love with horses! You can notice it everywhere: from the photos on the corridor walls and horse’s grooming journals to the big statue of a horse at the main entrance. If you ask the students what their favorite kind of sport is, they will certainly respond “horse riding”.

One of the days I was able to go on a horse competition with students, Marilyn and Jean-Philipe, the teachers from the school. While my role was rather observative, the students had important tasks to fulfill. The competition was composed of three rounds (tests): dressage, jumping and cross-country riding. As far as I have never been to horse competitions before, it was quite entertaining to me to find out the way it works, and, Marilyn, as well as Jean-Philipe, had kindly agreed to explain the specifics.

So, I found out that during the dressage the riders had to perform a series of figures memorized in advance, in front of judges. What comes to jumping, it was held over a raw of double, triple or other combination of obstacles, including many changes of direction, in a timely manner. Cross-country riding includes overcoming lots of obstacles to measure speed, endurance and jumping ability of a horse as well as the rider’s knowledge of pace and the use of the horse across the territory. It’s where the students had tasks to fulfill.

A couple of students had to stand near each of the obstacles to observe a rider and report by talkie walkie whether the riders had successfully jumped over an obstacle or not. Even though it may seem like an easy task, it was quite demanding to stand in the heat all day long and pay attention to more than 100 participants. The students did their job well and by the end of the day, they were totally exhausted. Nevertheless, they learned the way horse trials are organized and were able to join the competition from the inside perspective. I believe that this kind of education brings them lots of benefits and that they enjoyed it too. What comes to my side, I found out that organizing a horse competition is not an easy task to do. It’s very educative that European Solidarity Corps projects open a gate to informal learning that allows discovering things we never expect to see in our everyday life.

After finishing my European Solidarity Corps experience in France, I plan to do my second master’s degree in International relations and start working in NGOs. Those are usually non-governmental and non-profit organizations aimed at overcoming different barriers on the way to sustainable development and growth. NGOs enable citizens to work on specific complex topics and thereby contribute to certain society development. The types of NGO’s are different: from the big ones like UNICEF, UN, and UNESCO that take care of global international problems to the small ones, like “Maison des Citoyens du Monde” in La Roche-sur-Yon, which promotes citizenship, participation and help expats to integrate at a local level.

As many people of my age, I don’t know what my life is going to be like in 10, 5 or even 2 years. The contemporary conditions are quite unexpected and sometimes it’s impossible to plan or predict anything. Nevertheless, I would like to participate in as many different programs as possible, take my second master’s degree and come back to Lviv, Ukraine. Of course, my plans may change as life is full of surprises, but at the moment, I’m glad about being able to benefit from the project I am on. Acquiring new competencies and skills, exploring a new country and meeting interesting people is something I decided to change my comfort zone for. I Hope, my project will go well, and I will be able to integrate with students more and more. 🙂

Oksana Zokhniuk, 23 y.o, Ukraine

Poland on my mind – Back to the country

Have you ever thought about volunteering? Have you ever seen yourself as a volunteer in a foreign country with different people and culture? Maybe yes, or not. But being a volunteer is an opportunity to help others, to use your knowledge and experiences for involving in activities which give you pleasure.

4 years ago, I came to Poland for studying, and I discovered beautiful people, delicious food and impressive culture. Watching beautiful buildings, exploring the old towns in different Polish cities and eating Pierogi and Zurek inspired me to come here again.

On the 15th of September 2020, I saw a post on Facebook about a Polish organization who was looking for a volunteer from Georgia and I immediately applied for it, because I realized that it was a chance for me to come here again and to do the job which gives me pleasure and to get new experiences from a new organization. After applying an application, I had a skype interview with a representative of the organization and they, fortunately, accepted to my application. Leaving everything and becoming a volunteer is not easy – especially if you have an active life, but when you want to improve your skills, meet new people and help others, it is a good opportunity to go abroad and spend your several months with different people, where you will be able to discover a new culture and get new experiences. Now, I am here in Krakow and work at NGO Internationaler Bund Polska. I involve in their various activities and trying to help them. I also improve my skills with the Polish language, moreover, I have already met other volunteers from across the world – Spain, Italy, France, Turkey and so on.

I became a volunteer trough European Solidary Corps – the project is created and financed by the EU and it aims to foster solidarity in European society, engaging young people and organizations in accessible and high-quality solidarity activities. It offers young people volunteering activities, traineeships or jobs, or run their own projects.

I encourage you to apply and become a volunteer because it will open a door for new adventures in a different country. I know I am a little biased, but if you choose Poland for your destination country, you will not regret it later, because you will have amazing people, culture, food, landscapes and opportunities to travel in the EU countries with convenient prices.

Become a volunteer – let’s exchange our knowledge and help each other… 😉

DomEQ

Even in Corona times we will not stop meeting new people, may it be via Zoom, Skype, or any other video messenger. So did we with Dawid Wojtyczka from the Equality House, or DomEQ, in Krakow.

 

The EQ-House is a place that was founded in 2016 to create a place that is offering a safe space for the LGTBQ+ community here in Krakow. LGBTQ+ is the shortening of the words Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, and every other sexual orientation which there is e.g. Pansexuality. 

 

By meeting Dawid we had the chance to talk with someone who is working in the DomEQ (Equality house) so, he could give us some insides into what the organization is doing and what they are standing for.

 

When one lived in Poland for a certain time, one will realize that the LGTBQ+ community is still facing a lot of problems in this country. Either through the given laws by the government which makes it impossible to marry for two partners of the same sex or to change your gender in a less complicated and expensive way. Also, due to society’s high percentage of Christians homosexuality is something which is rather frowned upon than accepted or even tolerated. 

Exactly for these reasons exists DomEQ. With a team of Lawyers, Psychologists and other supportive professionals DomEQ supports people who are threatened by either social exclusion, live in fear of physical violence due to their sexual orientation, or need somebody who is representing them in court if it comes to matters like the acknowledgment of one’s gender. 

 

But besides that, DomEQ gives way more than just simple support. It is a place in which members of the mentioned minority groups can meet without fearing to be frowned upon or being called names. A place in which heterosexual, transsexual as homosexual people stay together to celebrate what makes us stay strong, even though it might not be after the typical model of Adam and Eve, but Adam and Steve.

 

Dawid showed us, that trough these easy things such as watching movies together, doing a BBQ, or any other thing, as small as it may seem to us, we are contributing to society by laying an accepting and powerful fundament on which one can build on.

 

Of course, we did not only talk about the situation in Poland, as a matter of facts it would be quite foolish to pass the opportunity to have a look at the other countries, where each of us volunteers originates from, to see how their societies and government is dealing with mentioned people. We found out that Belgium and Spain (after the Netherlands in 2000) were the first countries that passed a law which makes it possible for everybody to marry, not looking at their genders but at two humans who want to be together. 

 

Sadly, we also had to learn, that there are worse places to be part of the LGTBQ+ community such as Turkey and Egypt. 

 

All in all,  it was a fairly interesting and uplifting meeting. To see that Poland is moving forwards towards an open and accepting society gives one joy and makes one look forward to the day on which same-sex marriages and partnerships are accepted, tolerated, and part of our everyday life.

 

Rethinking Refugees- A meeting with Sindhuja

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal, and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.[1]

It is important for your understanding to define the term “refugee” first so that you know on what base we were talking about this topic together with one of the founders of “Rethinking refugees”, Sindhuja Sankaran.

Rethinking Refugees is a nonprofit organization in Poland, especially active in Krakow, which set its goal to educate Polish citizens if it comes to the ongoing refugee crisis. Furthermore, they want to raise awareness of a multicultural society by organizing events and meetings between a group of minorities and the Polish society to break down prejudices and prevent e.g. the rise of Islamophobia.

 

One this one evening Sindhuja took some of her precious time to meet with us the volunteers in which she showed us what is happening currently and how we can try to change something in our society at home and in Krakow.

 

The first situation she decided to have a closer look at, was the terrible situation in the refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos. Sindhuja spent some time there and as a professor for Psychology she gave us not only insides on the hygienical situation in these camps, in which more than 100 humans have to share only one bathroom, but also on how this inflicts the mental health of the people who are living there.

Though the situation of the refugees in the Mediterranean Sea is still commonly known, maybe not as detailed as Sindhuja presented it to us, but also not something we were not aware of. If you investigate further, leaving the European continent we were quite surprised though what else was happening.

Not a lot of people seem to know about the situation the people of the Rohingyas found themselves in.

Statelessness.

At first statelessness mind sound like nothing too bad, maybe you gain some freedom, traveling around without having any government which you are staying representative for. Though the thought of traveling is already bursting into nonexistence. Without citizenship of a certain state you are screwed. How do you want to travel without any passports, ID, or something similar to this? Furthermore, all government institutions are only working for citizens. You are nothing in front of the state, meaning you will not get any help from them because you are not existing.

The Government of Myanmar is using this current technique to control, suppress, exploit, and finally persecute the people of the Rohingyas, without facing any intervention due to their lack of citizenship.

Because of this situation Myanmar is one of the countries, besides Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Somalia, which rates highest amongst the countries which’s people are fleeing their country.

Even though there are so many terrible things right now happening abroad, Sindhuja showed us ways of how to help these people and the ones who are facing racism or other phobias in our society. May it be meetings in which you just gather to talk and to eat with each other, informational events to spread awareness, workshops, and theater classes in which the local community interacts with mentioned humans.

That is another thing at least I learned during this meeting. We are not only speaking of “some refugees” we are speaking of humans like you, me my neighbor, or my grandma. We are just lucky enough to currently be in a much better situation, but you never know when the leave will turn.

We should not forget that we are not talking about numbers or diseased people, but of individuals who have dreams and visions. People seeking a better, or sometimes just a life.

It will take some time, but if we are staying persistent and keep on going, we are contributing a huge part to the creation of an equal, accepting, and tolerating society.

 

[1] https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/

The Founder of the Special Schools

Let me tell you of a woman whose compassion leat to the foundation of the well-known special schools here in Krakow. A woman not afraid to take matters in her own hands, not fearing any obstacles. A woman who never intended to do something like this and ended up in a different profession than she ever thought.

Quite a while ago Maria Orkisz had a talk with a concerned mother, dealing with her strong physically and mentally impaired daughter. It was about the struggles of this mother, how everyday life was affected, and the feeling of maybe not giving her daughter the best she could have if it comes to her education.

This was the moment when Mrs. Orkisz realized, that besides specific communities, which take care of these children, teenagers, and adults, there has not been any other institution that provides in a professional way suiting education for these humans.

Driven by the feeling of having to help, to do something, Mrs. Orkisz decided together with the help of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in her heart, that if there is no such place yet, she will make one. Laying the first brick which builds the Special Schools we know today.

We as the volunteers had the honor to meet Mrs. Orkisz via Zoom. It is more than just an “I have heard of her meeting” because the special schools are the biggest hosting organization that IB Polska is cooperating with.

Meanwhile Mrs. Orkisz is a dainty woman in higher age nevertheless she is on fire if it comes to her life which she dedicated to the less represented part of modern society.

The meeting with her made us aware of what an amazing person is sitting in front of us, by her being a perfect example of how one can bring change to the world by persistency, passion, and fierceness.

We could see that Mrs. Orkisz spoke directly from her heart by the sheer amount of things she had to tell, and don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to listen to her, but everybody’s listening-endurance is gone somewhen, making it quite hard to focus after a crazy long time. It makes one feel glad to see older people, who are in such an advanced age, full of energy, and still ready to fight for what they created.

In the end we even met her husband Mr. Orkisz who shares his life with his wife.

Thank you again Mrs. Orkisz for being such an inspiration if it comes to commitment, faithfulness, and love in person. It is people like you who are carrying society and especially you who gave hundreds of students a beautiful experience even though their impairments. Leaving us with the urge and motivation to do something in our society, in our countries.

 

 

Monika and her short-term-ESC story!

I was supposed to spend these two months somewhere else but within one day everything changed and I ended up in Joannina. And I couldn’t end up better.

The story of this ESC starts when I had to back out of my planned internship in the Czech Republic because I was unable to find any affordable accommodation. I also had another internship planned for November and a nightmarish job at that time. I had two options: I could either stay in that job for another two months or find something instead. Guess what came to my mind.

When I recalled that I could do a short-term voluntary service, I immediately checked where I could go. I didn’t think much, I just didn’t want to waste next two months in a pointless job. I searched the ESC web page and wrote a post on one of the Facebook groups being pretty sure I wouldn’t find anything at the last minute. I had only that two months when I could go somewhere and couldn’t change the dates much but surprisingly I found many offers. I selected three projects. Greece won based on very good vibes during the interview with Dora and the fact that I had already been to Greece a year before and had very good memories from that time.

I am this kind of person who jumps into new things recklessly, without much consideration and then freaks out that I all will go wrong. It wasn’t different this time and I got afraid that I might end up in a place that I wouldn’t like in the end. So I went to the airport in early September all stressed out. Unnecessarily.

I seriously couldn’t find a better place.

We worked in a refugee camp with kids from 5 to 12 years old and later also with kids from 1 to 4. We provided them with informal education by crafts, playing outdoor games or teaching simple rules. For me this experience was particularly challenging because I’d never felt comfortable with kids but thought I could make it for two months. Now I miss those kiddies! I wonder how long I will hear “teacher!” in my head 😀

But my two months in Joannina was not only the camp. I made friends, I ate out a lot, I visited another part of Greece, I learned a lot about myself, I made important decisions, I struggled and won a couple of times, I made memories. Time passed so fast but two months were enough to keep Joannina in my heart forever. But the most important part of this adventure were people I met on my way: my flatmates, other volunteers of the project and of Agia Eleni, the team, volunteers and friends of the Youth Centre with special place for Dora, the best coordinator! You guys made this time so special and unforgettable.

I made this choice based on the chain of haphazard events and couldn’t be more happy about the result. Thank you Joannina! Hope to see you soon.

Monika was a volnteer in the short-term project: “Impact on local community of Ioannina” run by Youth Center of Epirus / AMKE and funded by the European Solidarity Corps of the European Union.

Easter in Italy

Since Italy is a religious country Easter is celebrated everywhere and in different ways, even by the ones who are not religious. I’m sure there are many traditions in whole Italy but in this text I am going to talk about the ones which are famous in my region, Apulia.

Starting from Palm Sunday I can say that people are used to go to church in the morning, especially the masses at 10 am are full of children and parents. The tradition is that people, after the Sunday mass, exchange crosses which are done with palm leaves, to wish peace to the others.

It is known that in this festivity, people who were in conflict before try to solve their issues and gift the other a real small olive tree. Palm Sunday is a day which brings people closer and allow them to make peace with one another.

Concerning Easter, it is a bigger festivity than the Palm Sunday since it marks the resurrection of Jesus. Of course also in this day it is tradition to partecipate to the morning mass. But the biggest traditions have their bases in the italian cuisine. For Easter, as also for Christmas, families are brought together to celebrate this festivity and they have Easter lunch together. It is tradition to eat lamb and hard boiled eggs. Besides, there are two famous sweet dishes that are eaten on Easter: one is almost always handmade, the other one can be bought. The first sweet dish is called “Scarcelle”. It is basically a simple dough made out of flour, eggs, sugar and milk, which gets shaped into Easter-like shapes, for example: a bunny, an egg or a dove. After the baking, the shapes are decorated with sprinkles or chocolate eggs. It is tradition to decorate the “scarcella” with an hard boiled egg at the center to represent the body of Christ.

 

The second sweet dish is calles “Colomba”, which literally translates to “dove”, because it is what it represents. It is an egg based dough, shaped like a dove, baked and finally decorated with white sugar sprinkles and almonds on top.

But the modern symbol of italian Easter is the chocolate egg. It is tradition to gift kids and adults a big chocolate egg with a surprise inside. It can be bought in normal stores or it can be done in a pastry shop and the surprise can be personalized. People have hidden engagement rings in easter eggs as a surprise! Kids (and adults) wait for the Easter time to enjoy their chocolate eggs.

Easter in Belgium

The people in Belgium are celebrating Carnival 40 days before Easter. It’s the last time the Belgians are partying before the period of fasting. Especially the people in Wallonia are walking in big carnival parades and live according to the motto “savoir vivre” (know-how to live).

As in other Catholic countries, the believers abstain 40 days from meat, sweets and even chocolate! For some reasons is the good Friday in Belgium, not a free day, as in many other countries. From this day on, the bells in most parts of Belgium are quiet. Especially on Saturday (“silent Saturday”). There is a history, which says that the bells are flying to Rome to be blessed by the pope.

That’s why you can’t hear any bell in Belgium until Monday. It feels like years have passed when you hear the happy melody again. In some Belgian cities, paper eggs fly down from church steeples on Saturday. The kids have to catch these eggs and the child who gets a golden egg wins a prize. Commonly, the kids color boiled eggs, there are even markets for the most beautiful Easter eggs. On Monday the kids find colored eggs in the gardens or their self-made easter nests out of hay. These gifts were not brought by the Easter bunny, but by the bells that returned from Rome. There are some special Egg hunts in Belgium, in Thumaide, for example, the eggs are dropped by a helicopter.

Like most Belgian celebrations, you spend the Monday with your family. On that day, they eat ham, lamb asparagus, potatoes, pancakes, and sweet bread. Many families are going to church, these churches are decorated with flowers and icons. On these days the kids in Belgium are eating a lot of chocolate. As Belgium is one of the world’s tasting chocolate producers, they have many different kinds of chocolate on Easter. Special for this chocolate is the filling, like hazelnut cream, pistachio or marzipan. The shapes are the Easter bunny and the egg because they are signs of fertility.

Marie Rauw

Easter in Denmark

In Denmark the religion of the country is Christianity and more precisely Protestantism. We, therefore, celebrate Christmas, Easter and other Christian holidays and of course holidays specific for Denmark.

In Denmark Easter is a holiday where the schools close from Maunday Thursday till Easter Monday. We celebrate it with chocolate as eggs and bunnies, Easter decorations and if you want to, going to church, but it is mostly the older generation. In Denmark, we are not very religious, and if we are it is most often very private and it is not a big topic in conversations.

We have a tradition in Denmark to gather with friends and family for a big gathering around Easter and Christmas. So you as a person can easily go to two or more Christmas parties in December: one with friends, one with family, one with work and/ or one with your classmates. And it is the same around Easter, but, it is usually one with a family that is the biggest and most important. Here you get to see all the extended family that you do not see otherwise. Here we gather to eat a lot of traditional food such as lamb, herring, shrimp and eggs, meatballs, beer and snaps. It revolves around the classic Danish food known as “Smorrebrod”.

In my family, we also paint and go roll the eggs. The Egg Game is who can roll/ throw his or her egg closest to the goal and see how good you are and how long your egg lasts.

When celebrating Easter all the students in schools usually make Easter crafts in art class. We call them “gækkebreve” which you can loosely translate to “Fool letters” that originates from 1600. You have a piece of paper that you fold and cut shapes in with a scissor. In the middle, you write a small poem and sign it with dots, the same amount of dots used in your name. Then you give it to a person in a way that they do not know who it is from like leaving it on their table. They then have to guess who the sender is. If they are wrong the saying is that they owe you a chocolate egg.

Marie Reif Hill-Madsen

Spain during Easter is worth visiting!

Spain takes Easter really seriously, in a way is the second most celebrated date of the year, after Christmas of course. It is a Christian celebration, and we call it “saint week” and it commemorates The Christ Passion. It lasts 7 days and during that time the streets of every city in Spain are crowded, full of music and colors, which makes it a great moment to visit Spain, but of course, not every part of Spain is in the same way.

The most popular activity in each city of Spain is the procession. These parades consist of a group of Nazarenes, wearing exuberant dresses, holding representations of Christ´s life and playing the drums at the rhythm of the steps, depending on the city there are other instruments, going from gregorian chants to the cornet. They are impressive because of the seriousness of the activity, but also worth watching.

The south of Spain has the most joyful celebration, pointing Sevilla as the capital of this festival in Spain. It has popular processions, but the proportions and emotions of these make it more special. With 50.000 Nazarenes participating and the population of Sevilla getting double only for that week, it is a unique event everybody should watch once in a lifetime.

Sticking in the south, we go to Hellín, Albacete with an impressive tradition made of drums and more drums and more drums… More than 20.000 people take their drums and go out to the streets to play them with a characteristic attire made of red and black. During one of the days of the celebration, the drummers stay all night without any rest playing the drums even until bleeding honoring Christ´s suffering.

Moving to the east of Spain, into Catalunya, during this week every bakery reveals a special dessert, this special food is called “Mona de Pascua” which is a kind of pie with an egg over it and it’s given from the godfather/godmother to the godson/goddaughter. It is well known for being delicious and for the family reunion that comes with it always on Easter Monday.

There is another kind of food that is traditionally eaten at Easter and it is “Torrijas”. This sweet can be eaten during the whole year but Easter is a special moment for that. This ritual is not about regions, in the whole of Spain during these days yo have to have “Torrijas” for breakfast at least once. Made out of bread, milk, sugar, and cinnamon, there is not a better way to wake up than smelling them.

For last but not least let´s get to something a little bit more personal, in some villages of Spain (and mine) during those days a different kind of celebration happens. It’s called “Quintos” and it’ss about esteeming the kids who are getting into adulthood and all the population of the village participates in it. Its history comes from long ago when the boys had to go to do the military service and this was the way of wishing a good farewell for them. Times have changed and now is a celebration for boys and girls although they don´t have to leave home after it.

This celebration in Spain, as I said in the beginning, is Christian but everybody is invited to enjoy it. Spain is not only a Summer holiday option, but our culture also goes beyond warmth and beaches, so if you are wondering, don´t hesitate and visit it.

Fabian Bajen

EASTER IN CATALUNYA

In Catalunya, a part of the religious traditions that we have during Easter, there is also a big food tradition where godmothers and godfathers take part with their godchildren. Probably, due to this sweet tradition, Easter is one of my favourite celebrations. In the next lines you are going to know a little bit more about what dwe eat, when and why.

So let’s start! Tortell de Rams is the typical cake for Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, and godparents give it to their godchildren after the celebratory service in the church.

In Catalunya, “tortells” are a very common dessert. A tortell is a sweet coca, a bread-like cake, which is usually ring-shaped and is the typical food of many Catalan festivals. For example, the Tortell de Reis and the Tortell de Sant Antoni are basically the same but with small variations.

The Tortell de Rams, like those in the other festivals, may be stuffed and decorated with various ingredients, although the most typical version is filled with marzipan and decorated with candied fruit.

For a long time, until well into the 20th century, it was traditional for the cake makers and also householders, to make tortells with hard-boiled eggs on the top, which godparents gave to their godchildren on the Sunday of Pasqua Florida (the Feast of Flowers), or the day after.

Nowadays, Easter includes a culinary treat eagerly awaited by the little ones: the mona. After centuries of evolution, the mona de Pasqua is a sweet, normally made of chocolate, that comes in various forms, often related to the annual trends for children. It seems that the word mona could be derived from the Arabic word munah, which means gift.

According to tradition, the cake had to have the same number of eggs as the age of the child to which it was given, until they had their first communion. Over time, the eggs became chocolate, and today the mona has become a chocolate figure of any manner of shape or colour: we can find everything from traditional eggs to cartoon characters, animals, and football players. But one thing that many have in common are the coloured goose feathers and little yellow chicks made of felt.

News form Anna – ESC Volunteer in Spain

Hi! My name is Anna and I am currently working as an European Volunteer in Malaga, Spain.

My adventure with European Solidarity Corps programme began when I decided to apply for a project.  After my successful selection process I came to Malaga in October 2019 and started my work at IES La Rosaleda, which is a secondary, vocational school. I work with another volunteer from France. Our main tasks include: coordinationg ‘’speaking sessions’’ in English and French, so the teachers and students can improve their language skills. Secondly, we are in charge of posting content on the blog and documenting our activities. We organize presentations and events promoting european mobility and Erasmus+, we visit classes and give mini presentations concerning holidays and different events. Moreover we helped during the Erasmus+ selection process, as we run the English interviews and prepared info-packs for the students.

A big part of our project is hosting visits from the international partners of our school. We enjoy having guests at our institute, showing them our projects and mobilities. It is a good oportunity to make new connections and create partnerships.

The whole ESC experience is super international, as I live and work with people from various countries. I am fortunate to live close to the city centre with 4 great flatmates. We share a lot of our cultures and experiences. When it comes to the coordination of the project I am also satisfied, I haven’d had any major problems since arriving to Spain. I can count on the constant support of my coordinators at schools, who are very helping and understanding.

Living in Spain, especially Andalucia, is super different than living in Poland. The mentality and style of life of the Spanish people is something I had to get used to. The language barier was a problem at the beginning (I left Poland with the A2 level) but I quickly improved. Malaga offers many great opportunities to improve the language, like exchanges and language meetings. As ESC volunteers we also have an access to the OLS language platform.

Malaga is a very beautiful, historical city itself, but it is also a great place to live to explore the whole Andalucia. I am so thankful that so far I could have visited many nearby cities and villages. It has been a great opportunity to know the Spanish culture more.

So far I am enjoying my experience as much as I can!