My EVS adventure started 5th of September 2015. During 9 months of my project I had pleasure to work in Sofia, Bulgaria. My hosting organization SMART Foundation has many goals but mainly they work with youngsters using non-formal methods of education. As a part of amazing team I had opportunity to learning and teaching in all fields of daily life.
Girl?s power! ? SMART Foundation team
But let?s go back to the beginning. When I?ve decided move to Bulgaria I didn?t know much neither about country and culture nor about people with whom I will be living. I just knew that my flatmates and workmates at the same time, will be from Spain and Germany. The moment when we met in our new apartment for the very first time was beginning of great friendship and cooperation. We all chose our EVS project because we liked description of organization and work, but not because about country. It was really big experience for all of us to start living in country which we didn?t know much about. Mariann (19) and Javiera (25) are two girls with big hearts who made my time in Bulgaria really inspiring.
New Bulgarian friend, me, Mariann and Javiera.
Our first travel together to Kopriwsztica, Bulgaria.
First months of work were a bit chaotic, we spent long time to know each other, our straightness and weaknesses and interests. That time made us great team with heads full of ideas. It was main aim about our project to ?Explore Volunteer Spirit?, to make our ideas come true and use our skills to organize activities in association. We?ve had opportunity to work in different places among Sofia like: orphan houses, youth centers, primary schools and detention center for refuges. We?ve organized many workshops, trainings for youth workers, travel presentations, social events, languages tandems etc. Each of us was interested in something different and our coordinators were supporting us in all kind of activities.
International day of Earth 2016 ? cleaning action around youth center.
Festival for parents and children. Familiaton 2016, Sofia.
My time in Bulgaria was mostly dedicated to refugees situation. We joined to ?The Refugee Project? where we could use our skills gained in SMART to teach refugee children and make them smile every week. I was leading classes of English for youngsters, where all formal methods were useless 😉 Through fun they were learning basic English words and expressions. It was kind of experience which changed my point of view for my life and opened my eyes for refuge crisis in Europe. At the end of project I?ve used my days off and support from my hosting organization to volunteering in the biggest illegal refugee camp in Europe on Greek-Macedonian border. I spent three weeks of cooking and distributing items for around 10 000 people in that hopeless place. It was this kind of thing which changing your life for 360 degrees.
The Refugee Project in Sofia.
Idomeni ? Refugee Camp in Greece.
After nine months I can say: I know Bulgaria! Maybe I still don?t understand, but I had chance to discover beauty and complex of this country. With other EVS volunteers we were sharing observations and differences between our homelands and country of roses. With our Bulgarian friends we tried to learn language, traditions, traditional dances (my favorite) and history to be able understand better Bulgarian culture. Most of the time with good weather during weekends we were traveling around country, tasting Balkan flavors and discovering unique landscape.
Buzludzha communist party monument in Bulgaria.
View for beautiful Plovdiv from one of 5 hills in the city.
What is EVS for me?
It is cultural and language challenge 24/7. It is about beautiful people from all over the word making you every day more interesting. It is about discovering and developing yourself. It is about time which you will never forget.
I had opportunity to feel happy, disappointed, fulfilled, useful, useless, homesick, lost, beautiful, strong, helpless, involved, weak and finally more powerful. EVS made me more confident about my prospects and future and brought to my life a lot of new, amazing friends.
I?m writing this post from being back in my comfort zone in Poland, but definitely I can recommend EVS for everyone who wants to have bag full of memories, challenges and good work experience 😉