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.

Za bolj podrobne informacije nas lahko kontaktiraš na:

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Clowns and jokers

I don’t like being cliché, but I have to say this one more time: time flies literally through our hands!

After this important announcement, let’s get back to what happened during my second-and-something month in Maribor and within the gulfs of Infopeka.

It is true that I am starting to get used to the city, however I will not hide the fact that homesickness hits back quite hard sometimes. But it is also a challenge to learn how to deal with the reality that friends and family will not be always available to resort to during your mood swings so it’s a good chance to come up fast with solutions alone.

This post will not be that long, but I want to focus on two highlights that got me really excited this past month and kept me going and expecting more to come.

The first one was Gala ZIZ, an annual performance that has become more or less a sort of a tradition every 1st of April for the last 4 years now. This year’s gala was dedicated, if we put it in broad terms, to “male oppression”, but this was of course only the first level of interpretation; rather, it was more a chance and opportunity to criticize female objectification in media and especially in these kinds of fancy events such as fundraising, in the form of which gala ZIZ happened to be presented. Sexism is here and present and it’s always problematic cause it is so internalized and patched up with the way both genders socially perform and interact, that tends to be normalized and authorized. And it’s even more alarming when you realize that people sometimes don’t even know the meaning of the word, implying that they most probably think that such thing does not exist. So gala, was a good chance to expose this reality and reflect on the fact that we have to make steady and secure steps to figure out what bothers and appalls us in gender representation and try to act upon it. I have also to admit that even if it was the first time participating in a “gala”, I really enjoyed it and I think the group mood and connection helped a lot to my positive experience. I wouldn’t expect to enjoy and have fun in a performance that I couldn’t understand its main language, but I realized that you can receive and transmit a bunch of emotions and situations without talking or without understanding what is being said; cause you have the chance to examine other things that spoken words might overrun sometimes, such as the function and the importance of the body as a performing tool in theater.

Which brings me to the second thrill of the month, the clown workshop, which I had the chance to attend during the same busy weekend of the gala. I had never thought of digging into the clown as a theatrical figure before, or about the concept of the red nose as the slightest indication of a theatrical mask but this workshop was really a revelation. We were a small group, diverse in ages and backgrounds, a fact that really helped the workshop be so elaborative and multi-layered. It was a very good and intense induction to physical theater and how our own body knows more than our brain most of the times. And I realized that in most cases, I tend to think so much about things that my body would already know how to adapt to. We have lost this “organic” touch, the sense that we have actual body parts that can do the job for us! Important realization for me was the fact that – in contrary with what I perceived so far – your body posture and energy can affect your emotional display and not only the other way around. It is quite hard to put in words what this 3-day workshop taught me, but I think and hope my body remembers better than me.

I think I am getting quite fond of theater and performing and I quite glad that I could do this during my EVS period.

In other news, March was the month of the on-arrival training, but Coline already gave a good description of what happened there, so I will not dig into that. We travelled al little bit in Slovenia as well, meeting with other EVS and getting to know them better.

I seem to get a hold of Slovenia and I am looking forward to new plans and actions.

Till next time, Sofia

Monday, 10 April 2017

Maribor way of life

Two months have already passed in Maribor, and my old feelings that this town was too quiet for me are more and more vanishing. I found my favourite spots, my little habits… I just come back from Vienna, where every single building is a master piece, and it felt very good to come back to our little peaceful Maribor.  It seems that everything is going slower down here : people relaxing in café, stopping to have a delicious Ice cream, chilling in Pyramida…  

I think their way of life has started to influence mine, and I’m glad of it because it was one of my personal goals : arrive to take some time for me and stop running. I spend the last fourth years in Lyon, and I was running from activity to another, I could spend several days without having any moments on my own. These last days, I had some guests for one week, and I noticed I really needed some time alone. That’s how I realized how much I appreciate theses little moments in Maribor that are part of my life now : crossing the park and the railway with a small fear that the train arrive at each time, trying to reproduce the amazing salad of Isabella, traveling the town with my flashing green and pink small bike…  I guess that’s how start finding a personal balance, it feels good!
In the context of Erasmus program, Sofia and I had the chance to participate to an Arrival Seminar: we spent 5 days with 18 other volunteers, coming from 14 different countries. The aim was to deeply understand how work EVS, our missions, roles and responsibilities. We also had to build a little project involving local community, we only had one day to do it, and very few budget. I already knew how efficient team working can be, but building a project with people from abroad was even stronger, from the diversity of their points of views!  We came out with an idea of interviewing people about their though of strangers, to observe how much stereotypes are presents in Slovenia. We decided to do it in a playful way, by building up a story about an EVS volunteer coming to Slovenia : in this story were some gaps, that interviewed people had to fill in, with their though about strangers. By example, if we asked “What do you think about French people?”  and they answered “selfish”, it would come back against their own country in their final story (“from what he has heard, Slovene people were selfish…).To sum up, depending on the opinion of people, each story was completely different. At the end, we realized we expected much worse than what we actually got : good new ! What I also got from this seminar was that whatever our origins, we all had theses confused feeling, between big excitation and fear, but we were also all glad to do this experience.

This week made me realize how important is informal learning : the fact of having no “good answer”, of being on the same level than trainers and building our own path instead of following the same one… I deeply think it’s the point of every EVS : learning in another way : in our own way. It makes you growing up, revealing who you really are. You may change, maybe a little and maybe a lot, but that’s for the best, and no matter what will happen in the future, no one will be able to take you off this experience.


Friday, 10 March 2017

37 days with Maribor

I have been away from Greece before, however the last time was for my erasmus semester so it was only a limited 5-month-period. And also a quite different experience with different motives and expectations. My EVS is going to last double the time, which was something exciting and scary at the same time. Also a fact, that I only realized when I set my foot in Slovenia.

The last months before joining infopeka were quite strange for me but also a time period where I passed through different stages of adapting and getting used to my upcoming reality, moving from excitement and impatience for discovering a country that I hadn’t actually thought I would live in before, to sadness and melancholy for leaving Athens, the place where I have been living during the last 6 years and the place that felt so intimate, which will always hold a unique spot in my heart, but also sad for leaving my friends and family...and then back to excitement and anticipation for new adventures and experiences. Admittedly an emotional rollercoaster!

What happened during these 37 days? My fellow EVS partner, Coline has already given a quite detailed impression of the organization and our commitment to its different activities, so I will not get to it extensively. But I will just have to stress once more the really warm and hosting environment and atmosphere that infopeka and its members saved for us, trying to make us feel as comfortable and as integrated as possible, because it would be a pity if i didn’t mention that.

I found it really great that during this time we will have to deal with a plurality and variety of different activities and be exposed and collaborate with people from different age groups and needs, but I will have to stand on something that made me quite excited and looking forward for my future involvement in it, which is theater of the oppressed.

I already knew about the method before coming, but unfortunately, apart from a short involvement with theater with my university theater group, I didn’t have the chance to be engaged in it till now.

And what I realized is that social theater and theater of the oppressed are the types of theatrical expression that I want to focus on and develop. It is a process of endeavouring something new that you didn’t know or you didn’t expect you could do, but also reflecting on why you are doing it at the same time. The idea that there is no right or wrong, that each performance, each little piece of actions and choices you make can influence the development of the moment; the fact that a single movement, an image, an expression of your body can tell more than a hundred pages, the feeling that through your dedication in that you’ll have the possibility to reflect on your own actions socially and politically and realize what you can actually make real changes around you, the preparation of what comes in real world and what we all see and do without reflecting on, without really understanding why; it involves everything else that goes beyond the narrowness of executing and adjusting yourself on a written text (of course I am not saying that I don’t appreciate “conventional theater”, I think that it is something quite hard and demanding and admittedly something that has offered me a lot, from attending theater performances but also from participating, although in a really amateur way, in a group myself. And that in all these types of theater i can find something really intriguing, they all engulf something artistic within them, although serving quite different purposes. The first one awakening emotions, from giving you the pleasure and happiness of attending a fine and well-done performance to allowing you make your personal associations from attending a single performance and the second one, asking you to really be a part of the change that you and every single of us can do.

I could go on and talk more about my impressions of that but just leave it like this for the moment.

Exciting moment: Maribor has really beautiful sky colours and is amazing how different sunsets can be every single day! Maybe it is normal for Slovenians to watch such skies, but really for me, it’s not so granted..probably air pollution in Athens keeps away some impressive sunsets, so i have to enjoy it while I have it.

till next time,


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

1st Month

This is it, one month already! On one hand, seems I just arrived yesterday, on the other, seems I already have my little habits in Maribor city. Strange feeling.

The departure was intense, full of a big melting pot of sadness, excitation, doubts and true happiness. The last month before departure was inegal, I was getting more and more impatient to arrive here, while I had to say “goodbye” to everybody and enjoy my last time in France. They were lots of pressure in theses goodbye, as if it had to be “a perfect last moment”, whereas Slovenia is not the moon!

The first week was really exciting, discovering the city, digesting lots of information and meeting Infopeka : We’re really lucky to have such a welcoming and warm team that cares about us to be comfortable and happy in our new life. After a global view of every field of activity that Infopeka does, Sofia (the other volunteer) and I decided to join several missions. We will be part of the Theater of the Oppressed, which has weekly workshop about society issues through theatre exercices. It’s a famous method that I didn’t know before coming, but that I really enjoy. We will be also part of two weekly workshop with kids, one with kids with special needs and another with kids from immigrate parents. It’s amazing to see how we can connect quite easily with them, despite the fact we don’t speak the same language ! We’ll help to organize several events, such as Filmopeka – movie projection followed by a debate- or StopTrick Festival. Finally, we are the members of Pizda- an engaged Fanzine where I do some Illustrations about feminism, homophobia…

I really appreciate the freedom that we have to create our own workshop or events, we can explore and invest in all things we’re interested by, and that’s a real chance.

We’ve been visiting Ljubjiana, a charming town were some part looks like fairy tales landscape. We went to Metelkova, an amazing place where Street Art is everywhere, full of concert places and bars. People join in that huge square, having fun on old kids playground…

This week-end was Pust, the traditional carnival of Slovenia. On Saturday, most of the people get disguised and go partying, and on Sunday happens the big parade in Ptuj. The entire city was in a happy mood, and we saw tons of sophisticated disguised, from all parts of Slovenia. We even met the Kurent Community, theses kind of big sheep with bells around them, that “chase the winter away” by ringing them ! I was so glad to see what looks like a traditional Slovene event… 

To sum up, I get more and more used to Slovenian way of living, and more and more invested in Infopeka activities… From what I’ve seen from now, this year will be full of cultural events intense experiences!


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Outward Bound pustolovščina

Preko poletja do jesenskega časa, je bilo večino časa namenjenega Erasmus plus kratkoročnim projektom. Prvi, na katerem sem bila prisotna, je bil youth exhange „Creative tradition“ v Velikem Žitniku. Participanti so spoznavali lokalno kulturo, se učili folkloro, vozili s kanuji, obiskali muzej Nikole Tesla, itd. Takoj zatem smo organizirali EVS camp „Clean nature, clear mind“ v Samoborju in zadnji je bil zopet na že omenjeni lokaciji, kjer ima OBC edukacijski center, in sicer training course „Love every challenge“. Training course je bil namenjen mladim iz osmih držav za usposabljanje in uporabi metod za „outdoor adventure education“. Najbolj sem bila vpletena pri izvedbi kamp-a v Samoborju, zato ga bom tudi malo podrobneje opisala. Petnajst mladih iz štirih držav, se je zbralo z namenom, da skozi dva tedna čiščejo naravno okolje, reciklirajo, iz odvrženih odpadkov ustvarijo nekaj novega in na koncu pokažejo svoje izdelke javnosti na vpogled ter napravijo fotografsko razstavo.

Vsak dan smo imeli ekipo, ki je bila odgovorna za jutranjo vadbo, ekipo, ki je skrbela, da nismo ostali lačni, ekipa, ki je poskrbela za čiščenje ter vizualno ekipo, ki je vsak dan izbrala 5 najboljših fotografij dneva. Začeli smo s timskimi igrami v parku na lep sončen dan. Outward Bound timske igre oz. metode so organizirane po principu učenja skozi izkustvo v naravi. Prebije se led, participanti se bližje spoznajo in ustvarijo timski duh. Že prvi dan so se vsi hitro sprostili in drug drugemu postali podpora. Spretnosti reševanja problemov so se hitro razvile, komunikacija je postala tekoča in uspeli smo celi dan preživeti na svežem zraku. Prvi teden smo čistili okolje v čudovitem parku Žumberak Samoborsko gorje. Uživanja ni manjkalo, predvsem pa zadovoljstva druženja v dobri atmosferi sredi narave. Spoznali smo tudi nekaj novih joga poz in meditacijskih tehnik. Drugi del kampa je bil osredotočen delavnicam, skupinskim diskusijam ter na fotografsko razstavo. Pri delavnicah smo bolje spoznali in predebatirali tematiko na internacionalnem nivoju in začeli z ustvarjanjem. Nekatere participante je inspiracija prevzela do te mere, da so prebedeli noč, s ciljem dokončati svoje izdelke. Obiskali smo stari grad v mestu, kjer smo tudi preverili stanje čistega okolja in na večer pripravili kres. Debate so se ob ognju transformirale na globlji nivo, seveda tudi pozitivne energije ni manjkalo. Ob koncu kampa so se predstavile ideje projektov iz vsake države in mi smo držali pesti, da se načrti uresničijo ter da glas ozaveščanja zaščite narave seže preko meja v deveto vas. Skupaj smo preživeli dva čudovita tedna in bilo je lepo videti, kako so se participanti povezali, dobili veliko inspiracije in bili hvaležni za to izkušnjo. Vsi skupaj si želimo še več takšnih priložnosti in bomo definitivno obdržali tega v lepem spominu. Ti projekti so odlična priložnost, da spoznaš nove ljudi na internacionalnem nivoju, se naučiš več o koordinaciji in organizaciji le-teh ter kako motivirati mlade, da se ustvari timski duh. Na koncu je občutek izpolnjen, ko vidiš veselje in čutiš hvaležnost za priložnost, ki si jo delil z drugimi. 

In že sta se poletje in jesen po vseh dogodivščinah na terenu poslovila. Po več kot enem mesecu oz. dveh mesecih izven Zagreba, ko sem se vrnila v mesto, je prišel tisti občutek domačnosti. Mesto se je napolnilo in zaživelo, s tem pa tudi moje veselje, za izkoristek vseh aktualnih dogodkov. Kar se tiče dela, sem dobila priložnost pridobiti več znanja na vizualni strani marketinga in promocije, predvsem preko socialnih omrežij ter izdelavi promocijske podobe organizacije ter Erasmus plus projektov. Moram pa omeniti, da je največji osebni EVS izziv bil povezan s športom v naravi – plezanje in abseil. Prvi razlog, ki je izstopal je bil strah pred višino in dejstvo, da je bilo nekaj novega in čisto drugačnega od preteklih izkušenj. Pri prvem poskusu plezanja sem prišla do točke, ko mi je telo sporočalo, da paničari in tudi um ni bil preveč v pomoč. Vendar ko poizkusiš drugič, odreagiraš mirnejše, saj se um in srce bolje povežeta. Dragocena izkušnja, pri kateri vadiš trdnost in se moraš osredotočiti na določeno stopnjo fizičnega in duševnega napora. Tudi abseiling ima podobne zahteve. Najtežji del je s prvim korakom prečkati rob skale. Telo mi je možno drgetalo, da to ni naravna poza ter um me je hkrati spraševal, zakaj to delam. Po nekaj malih mišjih korakih je postalo mnogo lažje. Še vedno malo stresno, vendar takrat se začneš počasi sproščati in uživati ob lepem razgledu vse naokoli iz višje perspektive. Vse aktivnosti, ki jih lahko doživiš, so po principu Outward Bound šol „izbire izzivov“. Na koncu dobiš občutek uspeha in zadovoljstvo. Veselim se še bližje spoznati ta šport ob naslednji priložnosti v prihodnosti. Od interesov, ki so okvirno vključevali naravo, šport in vizualno umetnost, preko odkritja novih stvari skozi učenje ter do novih vpogledov in inspiracije za nadaljno in jasnejšo pot kariere, je proti koncu EVS – sa bistvo doseženo. Navigacija proti odkrivanju potenciala skozi potiskanje onkraj meja svojih sposobnosti se na koncu vedno obrestuje, hkrati tudi ugotoviš, da pri tem destinacija nima nobenega pomena v primerjavi s tem, kaj delaš ter s kom to deliš.