volunteer adventures

Statues on the 5th of December – by Sara Fantova and Matilda Norling
January 12, 2012, 2:48 pm
Filed under: EVS, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

On the 5th of december, Matilda, Koen and me (Sara) went to the center to promote volunteerism by doing the thing that Skopje is the best in, STATUES.

November 1, 2011, 10:15 pm
Filed under: EVS | Tags: , ,

Wanna make a perfect barbecue in October on the beach?

All you need is:

– 1 grille from the oven,

– 2 Polish,

– 2 Germans,

– 1 Spanish,

– 1 Sardinian,

– Ohrid trout and wine as much as you like!!

Last week during a cold afternoon Kuba, volunteer from Poland, had this brilliant idea… People from South-Europe (me and Manu, from Madrid) looked at him astonished. Was it possible? Was it good to spend the evening in the beach with that cold weather when we could cook the fish comfortably at home?

Well, it was possible…

As soon as we arrived in the beach, the Polish (Kuba and Grzegorz, another volunteer) and Germans (a couple that’s travelling around East Europe by bike), equipped with light on the head, started to find wood and make a hole in the sand to build a barbecue with a normal grille and two stones. Manu and me were more and more amazed… In less than no time, the fire was ready and our teeth stopped to chat with cold. Straight afterwards also the fish was ready and it was extremely good..

And so, thanks to North European savoir-faire, we enjoyed exquisite fish, good wine and excellent company!!


The inevitable decline…? by Christopher Fleming
November 14, 2009, 11:55 am
Filed under: EVS

According to the training seminar diagram about culture shock, we volunteers will at some point experience a crash. Or to use the technical term – a trough – the opposite of a peak on a graph. Of ourse, everyone experiences this sensation differently, at different times (if atall) and some more intensely than others. The general idea is that you arrive in a foreign country on a high (a peak) and everything is new, novel and fun. Euphoria abounds. Then after some time, this feeling begins to disappear and is replaced with malaise, homesickness and depression. Everthing that the  pre-departure training was intended to prepare you for. So how to recognise this sensation? What if it’s not a state of mind that occurs suddenly, but a gradual process? How will one recognise it? Is it an unmistakable feeling? Sometimes I find myself thinking, ‘this must be it  – it’s begun’, but other times I’m not so sure. Perhaps it will hit me when I least expect it. It’s best to get any negative thoughts down now otherwise I might later disregard these thoughts and attribute them to my low point. I might dismiss genuine insight and truth because I am at some temporary low on the proverbial graph. But the truth is too important to be buried beneath positive thinking. And reality is nothing like the trajectory of a line across a graph.

Culture shock

EVS life in Pictures
November 14, 2009, 9:53 am
Filed under: EVS

Panorama. Photo by Andrzej Bukowski.

Moment from Skopje.

Tomas, Maria, Paula. Photo by Andrzej Bukowski

Patchwork family by Maria Kokkonen
November 12, 2009, 10:58 pm
Filed under: EVS

If you can imagine living in the house with seven people can bee challenging. When everybody has a different history and culture it’s getting even harder to understand people who you are living with. So you have to share something common as well to live with the same house and enjoy the time you have spending with your roommates.

In our EVS house we all have different kind of way to see the world and life here but luckily we have some common things as well. We all have  sense of bad humor, open~mind and a bit of crazyness. That’s helps a lot when you have some problems to talk about or some things to share.

Always living in the same house with other young people is up and down hills. Living in here with other EVS volunteers has been to me the greatest, strangest and educational time in my life. First I have never lived in this kind of sitsuation before where you have to get to know people after you have moved in with them and second learning your roommates’ culture and habits it’s one thing that I have enjoy a lot.

But there is a one thing what is true about living in this house: this creepy EVS family that we have in here can’t be really descripe in one blog. You have to see it, loved, hated and lived. Then you can really feel the astmosphere of EVS house and it’s people.

My first experience with Rakija by Tomas Marcinkevičius
November 3, 2009, 4:13 pm
Filed under: EVS, Life in Skopje

Well, folks, all I can say is that Rakija is quite a lady and she has quite a character. She is as gently as one can be when you treat her right, say nice things to her and don‘t push her. It doesn‘t take more than one faux pas to get her furious. I suppose I wasn‘t really gentle at that first night with dear Rakija. Of course, it had something to do with its own quality. The starting Rakija was given us by most reliable sources, so it was cheerful for a while. Then we changed the sources and all hell broke loose. I went to bed at 7 o‘clock that evening, not forgetting to throw up before. They say I got up at some time and inspected the ongoing party, but all I can remember is confusing a bottle of Rakija for a bottle of mineral water, taking a few big gulps and going back to bed. It was a peaceful 15 hour sleep. So, future visitors of Macedonia and bordering states, all I can advise you is to take good care when Rakija is around. Know what you‘re drinking, don‘t push her, don‘t curse her, don‘t do any wrong to her. It‘s not beer, it‘s not wine, it‘s not even vodka. That evening taught me a lesson and so far kind Rakija is only giving me good moments to remember.

Perpetual works in progress: thoughts on EVS in Skopje so far by Christopher Fleming
October 30, 2009, 6:43 am
Filed under: EVS, Life in Skopje

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I,  I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

First moments in MacedoniaAll of my pre-departure doubts and anxiety seemed to dissolve in slow motion when I arrived in Skopje.Prior to coming, I couldn’t imagine what the experience would be like, and not knowing what to expect was like a mental darkness. Light came slowly, with every welcome and each new day in the Skopje indian summer. That was, until the weather changed rather unexpectedly (it still continues to surprise). Autumn in Skopje has been unpredictable, changeable and mixed up in more ways than one. With retrospect, those first few weeks in the sunshine were like a honeymoon – or a holiday.

Rakija party: Photo by Andrzej BukowskiDrinking rakija in the yard at one of our many welcome parties is now a hazy memory. Somehow it feels as if we’ve been here for longer. Being always together as a group, and being ushered to and from meetings it’s been difficult finding the time to write. The time to think….or take a solitary walk….or to not hurry.There is of course, a physical connotation to the word hurry, but I mean ‘slowing down’ in a mental sense. Allowing thoughts to come and to be sifted through.

Time to digest these new experiences before writing about them, which is as necessary as writing itself.
Still, so many ideas come just from talking with my fellow volunteers, debating and arguing.

Like should we be offended by the ignorance of visitors to our own countries about issues there?  Why should we expect visitors to know everything there is to know, when often our identities and our collective histories are complicated and complex?

There is clearly a difference between being disrespectful to other cultures, and coming to a country with an open mind. Afterall, isn’t that the very idea of cultural exchange and learning in general?

Does anything to the contrary betray a lack of understanding on the part of people in a potential host country?
Does it reflect the strength (or weakness) of civil society there, or the awarness of the general public?
Personally, I would prefer that visitors to my own country ask questions, rather than draw their own conclusions.

That is always better than ignorance or indifference. It would be hypocritical to expect someone to be aware of politically sensitive subjects in the country where I live, if I’m clueless about issues in theirs. Often conflicts are rooted in history and it’s difficult even for younger generations to fully understand the politics in their part of the world. Given it’s complex history, Skopje is no exception.

Here in the city of brutalist communist arcitecture; after dark the bleak uninviting buildings and malls obscure the modern interiors of most cafes and restaurants.

Take a walk. Photo by Andrzej Bukowski The rule is not to judge a book by it’s cover. In the same way Skopje could be like a book with an old worn cover from another era. The fabric of one-time modern architecture attached to an ancient turkish weave.

As I see it, the story on it’s pages (like the story of any place) is still being written. And next year when visas become available for people form the Balkan countries to travel within the Eurpean Union, that story will enter a new chapter.

It’s good to be here for at least part of that story, learning the language, and meeting new characters, in what is a perpetual work in progress.

Old Bazaar. Photo by Andrzej Bukowski