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:

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Summer has finally come

Summer has finally come – quite rainy and windy though – but still, having the chance to enjoy some hot days that couldn’t help but remind me my summers in much warmer Greece.

After a small break for INmusic festival in Jarun lake of Zagreb in Croatia, which was a surprising an unexpected music experience, I am back in Maribor, figuring out our schedule during summer, with some interesting things going on.

We are in the middle of LENT festival, the “biggest” and most “elaborate” event of Maribor let’s say, so up to this moment I and Coline have had some presentations about Greece and France respectively, a presentation of our small but aspiring aunt Rosa (i.e. Luxembourg) library and one more kids’ workshop coming on the way. All of this happening within the frame of ART-KAMP, a side project of LENT taking place in Mestni park, where many different organizations and individuals connect and offer –mainly – artistic activities to kids and adults as well as information about their organizations and their activities, all of this accompanied by some music and dance performances from local artists and also intercultural presentations of folk dances and traditions from various countries, everything with free entrance of course.

It is nice and enjoyable to see Maribor finally a bit more alive and kicking, a bit more cheerful and playful and honestly, a bit more crowded since I had the sense that summer would be quite dreary to be around here – so LENT spiced things up a little bit.

The highlight of my “LENT- experience” was of course our theater of the oppressed performance, since it was also my first time performing in a forum play, which took place in a very nice and well-hidden courtyard just in the center of Maribor. The emotions: surprisingly, no anxiety or stress at all, it was really enjoyable and productive, since there were not so many but still quite powerful and interesting interventions by the spect-actors; it was always insightful to see and observe the turning out and the development of the dialogue between the oppressor and the oppressed, where the audience took the place of the second one, giving a new direction and trying to find a getaway for this oppression. We maybe didn’t succeed into changing the world or finding concrete solutions on how to tackle sexism and gender-exclusion in the workspace – which was the main focus of the play in this case; but in some way, with small steps, we managed to open an on-going dialogue regarding the situation which is clear and present and also to keep in our minds that we can and we should show intolerance when something like this is happening to us as immediate receivers.

Another highlight: the in-residence of Gallery K18, artist Milos Tomic, a respected and inspiring multimedia artist, who focuses, among other things, in stop motion animation technique. We had the chance to meet and collaborate with him, an experience offered us a great induction in stop motion, a technique that I am as familiar as I am with nuclear physics, but although I didn’t know what to expect at first, it was a real eye-opener and his direct and approachable way of explaining things made it much easier for me to get a grasp of some basic principles when applying and using stop motion. Definitely a worth-mentioning encounter! So now, I am more than excited and looking forward for the upcoming 7th stop trik festival in October.

With this and that, June is over, quite rapidly again.

Let’s see what July brings.

Se vidimo,


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Save the Village of Volunteers!

June is already beginning, that’s crazy how time flies down here: summer, which seemed so far when we first arrived, is now so close! And we can feel that the city is following this season; coffee shops are full and the flowers in the park have blossomed. To celebrate the end of the scholar year, lots of events have taken place on every part of Maribor.

One of them was particularly successful in my opinion: Prostovoljsko Mesto (Village of Volunteers). It happened during the week of Volunteering: local organizations participated, where people could attend different kinds of workshops, lectures and events and on Wednesday, all these NGOs gathered together in the main square. The concept was that every association had its own stand and had prepared a little game or activity for the audience. Every time kids arrived at the stands, they were given a notebook with an investigation to solve: to fill in the clues, they had to go to as many stands as possible, to collect stamps which would allow them to resolve the case and finally save the village of volunteers. Circus workshop, DJ, interviews from the “mayor of the volunteering village”, scientist games, team-building and creative games: everybody could find their favourite activity! 

With Sofia, our task was to build up a game that could adapt to different numbers of participants, different ages and that looked attractive from far (kids will not visit all stands, they will choose the more eye-catching). We made up our mind for “the volunteering snail”: instead of one big game, there would be 6 mini activities… First, the participants were invited to draw their idea of volunteering, then they had to write what they could offer (I can teach guitar, my good mood, I know a lot about gardening…) and what they would like to learn (a new language, a new competence…). After this reflexion phase, we had prepared some more active games: in a big bowl full of water was floating another smaller bowl. Kids and adults had to put stones in this little bowl, paying attention that the bowl doesn’t sink. For each stone that they put, they had to tell a word about volunteering. The next game was a memory game: they had to match actions (helping, teaching…) to images. In the next one, in bigger groups, they were proposed to try the “stick game”, where they had to collaborate and think “as a team” and not as an individual to succeed in their task. Finally, they could jump on our hopscotch snail, to end up with telling something that they learnt today. The game had quite a lot of success: our stand was busy almost all day! 

Actually I didn’t expect kids would be so focused, and will really take the time to think what they can bring and what they would love to receive. We also got amazing drawing about volunteering, and we were quite surprised that some children were so quickly efficient and collaborating during the stick game: we had already tried it during our on-arrival training and it took us much more time to stop putting the blame on the others! I realised that lots of young people were already quite familiar with volunteering and it was great that this day was meant as well for the discovery of volunteering, as well as a day of Joy for all the current volunteers, who could have fun together. Laughs, music and good mood created a convivial atmosphere, and the square became a lively place for meeting and cooperation. I’m really glad to see that these little and big events such as culinary or creative workshops and any kind of cultural events are enriching the life of the locals, that always have the opportunity to learn new skills or improve their knowledge, if they ask for it. I deeply think that these moments of sharing, collaborating and gathering together are continually constructing our happiness: They allow us to build connections with others, and being fullfilled personally.


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

EVS (European Voluntary Service) izkušnja kot prostovoljec na cirkuškem uličnem festivalu Cu'fus

Slogan »Svi pod mus na Cu'fus« mi je v glavi napovedal nov izziv – izrezal sem šablono z napisom in ga odtisnil na majico, nevedoč, kakšna dvotedenska dogodivščina me čaka. Vedel sem samo, da bo največja naloga in s tem najtežja zdržati 5 minut brez smeha. Prava misija nemogoče, verjemite.

Simpatično, mirno hrvaško mestece Samobor se je s pomočjo 10 motiviranih prostovoljcev iz Srbije, Slovenije in Francije za nekaj dni preobrazilo v pravi cirkuško-umetniški raj, poln dogodivščin, izzivov, nasmehov, kjer nihče ni ostal bosih nog.

Mesto, skozi katerega se vije reka, ki vedno znova očara, parki, ki te napolnijo z dobro energijo, bližnji Stari grad in Vidikovac ponujajo lepe tekaške treninge in nepozabne panoramske zahode nad mestom. Srečen sem, da sem tu in delam, kar me veseli, razveseljujem, spodbujam in navdušujem ljudi s tem, kar rad delam, in talenti, ki jih razvijam ... Sonce se je skrilo za grički, čas je, da pohitim nazaj do hostla, ki mi bo dom za naslednjih 14 dni. 

Ko se na hitro spoznamo z Matijem, vodjo festivala, in ostalimi prostovoljci, vem, da bomo kljub kulturnim, socialnim razlikam in različnimi sposobnostmi delovali kot odgovorna in razumna ekipa, ki bo čez teden izkovala načrt in izpolnila vse naloge, se soočila z vsemi problemi za uspešno izpeljan festival uličnega cirkusa. 

Kljub temu da smo bili vsi na začetku neznanci, me je vsak posameznik dopolnjeval na edinstven način in s tem pripomogel, da sem izpopolnili sebe, svoj potencial in samozavest. Spoznal sem veliko različnih kultur, ki jih ne bi bilo mogoče spoznati v tako kratkem času. Ne samo da smo skupaj delili bivalni prostor, šampon, hrano, obleke, ampak tudi celo našo življenjsko zgodbo in majhne rutine, ki nas izoblikujejo v osebe, kakršne smo. Kljub kulturnim razlikam smo vedno našli skupno točko, ki nas je vse združevala, nam odprla srce in mišljenje, da smo delili, razumeli, videli in ljubili svet drugače. Vsi smo se učili o razlikah med nami, ki niso isto kot problemi, in da lahko rastemo, delimo, se zabavamo skupaj z ljudmi različnih kultur, spoznavamo stvari, ki so pomembne za naš razvoj in se bolj zavedamo sebe, kako drugačen in unikaten je vsak od nas.

Torej, kaj sem delal v Samoboru?

Fotografiranje, snemanje, risanje, izdelovanje šablon, ustvarjanje prijetnega ambienta v mestu za umetnike, prostor, kjer se širijo nove ideje, delovanje v skupnosti, reševanje praktičnih problemov, učenje novih veščin in znanj, nabiranje izkušenj, boljše poznavanje sebe in navsezadnje potovanje. Biti del te izkušnje s strastmi, ki me navdušujejo, je veliko zadovoljstvo. 

Naša naloga je bila pomagati lokalni skupnosti in organizatorjem festivala zbirati čevlje, barvati, dekorirati mesto, pripraviti instalacije v parku in s tem smo pripomogli ustvariti zanimiv tridnevni festival. Spoznavali smo lokalne ljudi in se učili o novih kulturah. S tem sem začel tudi bolj ceniti svojo kulturo, mesto, v katerem bivam, domačo hrano, glasbo, sleng, okolje, ki me obdaja, in ljudi, ki me podpirajo na moji poti.

Po končanem delu smo imeli vsak dan tudi prosti čas in aktivnosti, ki so vsebovale vse, od umetnosti, glasbe do spoznavanja mestne kulture, kar sem zelo cenil. Za radovedne duše smo namenili pohod na Okič (grad), izlet v Zagreb, gledališko predstavo, obisk Medike(podobno Metelkovi), koncerte, tek, jogo, učenje novih jezikov, reševanje problemov, učenje novih veščin, biti odgovoren in širiti pozitivo in uživanje ob zvokih kitare v parku, dokler ne pade noč ...

Ni slabo za 14 dni, kajne?

Vsak posameznik, ki sem ga spoznal, je pripomogel k temu, da je bila to zame najboljša izkušnja prostovoljstva, ki sem jo imel do sedaj.

Počutil sem se zelo koristnega, da sem sodeloval pri izvedbi festivala za ljudi v Samoboru, ki so bili zelo zadovoljni z našim prostovoljnim delom med festivalom. V času bivanja sem se razvil v novo osebo s pomočjo ljudi, ki so me obdajali vsak dan s svojo pozitivno energijo, ki mi je prinesla veliko ljubezni in sreče v življenje, kar sem odnesel s sabo tudi nazaj domov.

Cu'fus mi je dal čudovito izkušnjo v življenju, ki se je bom z veseljem spominjal. 

Rekel bi: »Hvala vsem prostovoljcem, ki so se mi pridružili iz vse Evrope, da smo bili skupaj kot družina in da smo skupaj doživeli to čudovito izkušnjo.«

Uroš Frelih, zapis in fotografija

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.