European Voluntary Service

This is Pekarna's blog for EVS volunteers. Pekarna is a sending and hosting/receiving organisation for EVS volunteers and their volunteers (send and hosted ones) will keep you up to date about their work.

Evropska prostovoljna služba

Pekarna Magdalenske mreže Maribor te vabi, da se tudi ti pridružiš množici prostovljcev/-k Evropske prostovoljne službe (EVS) in odpotuješ v organizacijo po svoji izbiri v drugo državo EU. Smo pošiljajoča in gostiteljska organizacija EVS, ki mladim od 17. in do 30. leta za obdobje največ enega leta uredi vse podrobnosti za brezskrbno in povsem brezplačno delovanje v tujini.
Evropska prostovoljna služba je del programa ERASMUS + Mladi v akciji.

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Friday, 2 March 2018

My experience in Maribor

Dear Slovenia,

I still don't know many of your cities, and even less their names, and I still don't know a lot of places that I'm sure you have hidden from tourists (and some of those that you don't), but the little I know about you is charming me, from the cities that I've been, like Maribor, Ptuj, Koper or Ljubljana, to the people that I meet in them.
From Maribor I prefer the contrasts, modern, classic buildings and some old houses damaged by the passage of time make, at least for me, this a unique city. A place smaller than the city where I come from and still offers everything I never thought I could have in mine.

I hope we get to know each other more thoroughly in the coming months.

With love, Jesús.

... my first month in Maribor and Slovenia ...

I think it is quite hard to put into words, all the things that have happened during my first month in Maribor and Slovenia. So many new people and places, ideas and languages all flying round my head, it is both overwhelming and exciting! So I will just tell you about the things that have stood out for me the most.

Firstly, THE SNOW. People keep saying that we arrived just in time for the real Slovenian winter. It has snowed almost continually since we arrived and it is hard to believe that Maribor could ever be green and warm. I feel as if we are all sliding and shuffling about like penguins! It has been funny to experience all this snow with Rafa, from Portugal, and Jesús, from Spain. In the beginning we were like children, now Rafa can't believe his eyes when he sees yet another week of below freezing temperatures and snow forecasted...“Minus 15! Minus 15!!! Che Cristo!”

This brings me to the next thing, THE OTHER EVS VOLUNTEERS. I feel very lucky to have met and be working with Jesús and Rafa, they are GREAT! It was also an amazing experience to meet the 18 other EVS volunteers at our arrival training. Our week together in Koper was an exhausting, intense but a very special experience, by the end we felt like a very close group of friends. I don’t think anyone of us wanted to go home, and so we all went to Ljubljana for a karaoke night at Lezbični bar! Finally, I wanted to say something about THE PEOPLE FROM INFOPEKA. I still feel like I am getting my head round around the many branches of Pekarna Magdelenska Mreže but it feels really nice to be learning again, to discuss political and cultural ideas and to have the space and time to put into words and actions my feelings and thoughts. Everyone here has made us feel really welcome and I feel excited to become even more involved!


EVS Experience in Maribor (Slovenia)

Almost three weeks have passed since I arrived for my EVS to Maribor, the second largest city of Slovenia. I have not spent all this time in the city, but I still feel I can make my first conclusions about local people and language, culture and about my feelings living here.

It is my second time in this tiny but lovely country. I came to visit a friend for five days last year and I enjoyed it very much, but this time was going to be completely different. In December 2017, I received a very positive e-mail of our organization, in which it was told to me and my other two colleagues and already friends, Esme from Scotland and Jesús from Spain that the project had been approved and we were coming to Slovenia on the first week of February 2018. I felt excited and nervous at the same time.

February arrived and me also to this unknown city. I confess that these first weeks had been a roller coaster for me: a lot of new people, new challenges, a lot of ideas and new projects, cold weather, a hard language and a completely different life. Although, I am very happy and willing to make the best of this experience. If I think about the time I have already spent in Slovenia, there are some things I couldn’t not mention. The first one is the weather. I have loved the snow since I was a child, but I swear this is the first real winter I have ever experienced. It was pretty funny to feel -16 degrees while skyping with my parents just to show them the snowstorm downtown. I also learnt how to walk, or better said, skate in the frozen and slippy streets of this city. I cannot wait, or as Slovenians said “komaj čakam” for a green and warm Maribor. By the way, I am enjoying a lot learning Slovene, this sonorous and full of tongue twisters language that reminds me, somehow, of Portuguese. It has been very nice learning it with locals. I cannot say anything bad about Slovenians. Calm, respectful and kind people. I will always remember the first time I learnt how to say “can you give a plastic bag?” or “A mi lahko daste eno vrečo, prosim?”. The cashier couldn’t stop laughing on me in a good way.

One of the best things during this month had been to get to know a lot of new people from all over Europe. Different cultures and backgrounds that enrich us. I love spend time with them. We have created a great work and travel team. The on-arrival training during our second week was amazing and special. Now, I feel I know more about myself and about what I want for my future. I grew personally and I got to know better my weaknesses and strengths. I think Maribor and this EVS experience will organize my mind and will make me stronger to achieve my dreams.

Hvala lepa, Slovenija.


Monday, 12 February 2018


Moje ime je Lucija. V lanskem letu sem opravljala evropsko prostovoljsko službo (EVS) v manjšem mestu Weingarten, v Nemčiji, natančneje v dnevnem varstvu zavoda IWO, v katerem dneve preživlja več kot 200 uporabnikov, torej ljudje z motnjo v telesnem in/ali duševnem razvoju.

Še ne dolgo nazaj sem se tudi udeležila letnega srečanja EVS prostovoljcev v Strunjanu, kjer smo vikend posvetili vrednotenju celotne EVS izkušnje. Kljub temu, da me pozitivne posledice EVS-a spremljajo vsak dan odkar sem se vrnila nazaj v Slovenijo, je bilo vseeno zelo koristno slišati pozitivne zgodbe drugih prostovoljcev, pa tudi tiste malo manj prijetne…

Ljudje me namreč pogosto sprašujejo kaj mi je EVS sploh prinesel. Zakaj tako visoko vrednotim to izkušnjo in zakaj zdaj gledam drugače nase, na svet, na življenje. EVS namreč ni samo prostovoljno delo oz. čas, ki si ga pripravljen ponuditi nekomu, ki ga potrebuje. EVS je veliko več. Je leto spoznavanja, učenja, poguma, joka, smeha, izkušenj, jeze, slabe volje, dobre volje, potovanj, pogrešanja, izzivov, dogodivščin, presenečenj in predvsem odraščanja. 

Naučila sem se seveda tudi precej nemščine in pridobila pomembne izkušnje na področju dela, saj študiram psihologijo. Z uporabniki smo dosegli vse cilje, ki smo si jih zadali in se ob tem neverjetno zabavali. Poudariti pa moram, da sem se naučila ogromno o sami sebi in to je tisto, kar je, po mojem mnenju, največ vredno. Spoznala sem kaj želim v življenju početi, kakšne ljudi želim imeti ob sebi in česa sem sposobna. Ni namreč lahko oditi za 12 mesecev v tujo državo, v tuje stanovanje s tujimi ljudmi, v tujo kulturo s tebi relativno nepoznanim jezikom. Je velik izziv, priznam. Je pa tudi neverjetna izkušnja, ki ti spremeni pogled na življenje, življenje samo in odpre kakšna do takrat zaprta vrata. 

Morda se sprašujete kaj pa jaz počnem, odkar sem zaključila svoj EVS projekt. :) Opravljam magistrski študij psihologije na Dunaju, kar je definitivno novo poglavje v mojem življenju in seveda neposredno prepleteno z vsem tem, kar sem se v enem letu evropske prostovoljne službe naučila.

Zakaj ne poskusiš še ti? Se splača, pa še zabavno je … :)

Lucija Polenek

The end of an adventure… the beginning of a new one

Two weeks have already past since I left Slovenia. It feels strange. I didn’t expect the departure will be so emotional. Now I think about it, it had lots of similarities with the arrival: huge confusion, excitement, regular cries, nostalgic moments, stress of the unknown, the feeling of being lost…

I think this end of mission was even harder because we had such an intense month filled with exalting projects and conclusion events that the moment to say goodbye arrived abruptly. I guess it would have been easier in the end of November, when we were less busy and super nostalgic of our countries and relatives. On the other hand, it would not have been the same feeling of accomplishment.

The biggest element of this last month was a big challenge, that I accepted without really knowing what I was entering in. The point was to have a Theatre performance about Calais Calais, a diary written by a German activist, relating her traumatic experience in the french refugee camp of the same name. Reading the text was the first tough step: realising the precarious reality of thousands of refugees located only few hours from my hometown, plus the anger of local fascist was for me a huge slap. With Tomaž and Sofia, we had less than a month to prepare the performance, that will be shown in GT22, a cultural centre that had some expectations. This thing will be real and we had nothing. Big panic.But since nothing good comes from panic, we tried to overcome it, and came up with ideas, that we found surprisingly quite good. We decided to illustrate this diary through diverse forms of theatre : frozen images, dance, puppets, shadows… and for this we’ve been rehearsing almost everyday, jumping from emotional sessions to unstoppable laugh that become necessaries under pressure. One week before the D-Day, I yielded to panic : What was I doing here ? I had never acted before, how will I remember all the text without screwing up everything ? Luckily, , Sofia had the right words : whatever what we will do, we’re not doing it for others, but for us, to honor the text, and if it is sincere, it can’t be really bad. Once again, the meaning of her name was correct.

On the day of the performance, I felt something never felt before, a sensation of emptiness in my head, that I can’t remember any of my text. And we learn that the national TV is here to interview us, as if the pressure wasn’t already to high... But we had no choice, the audience was there, we just had to jump in. I tried not to look at the audience, we gave everything we had, It actually went all right ! After the performance, we had lots of positive feedback and it felt good to see that some people got really affected, even cried, because they got the message and found our illustration immerse and powerful. Apparently, we broke the record of audience, with 70 spectators for 40 seats. We even talked about having it again in Greece and France. A huge challenge indeed, but I think successfully accepted !

After this major event, some other followed, including the finale exhibition of my students of the Alternative Drawing class. It was a good reflect of the sessions : improvised and spontaneous ! Drawings were hanged on some strings, as drying laundries surrounded by candles. Very few people came, but we didn’t care : the student were so proud of having their work exhibited ! And the greatest thing is that they want to keep going with meeting weekly and drawing together : goal achieved ! Same thing for the open stage : it feels great to see that something you started will go on, maybe because it made some people happy.

So here I am now, in France, trying to figure out what happened, realising how things and people changed here but especially how I changed during this year. Not sure at all about what I want for this year, of what I want my future to be, but sure of what I don’t want in my life. And as new year’s resolution, I only want to keep everything I learnt this year in my mind : keep cool, listen to yourself, fight for who you are and what you believe, and experiences are much more important than material things. First time of my life I don’t know exactly how this helf-year will be, the schedule is blank, but I’m not afraid, I’m sure some cultural project will come, some foreigner friends, activist actions, and some other surprises will cross my way...