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:

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Creativity out-of-the-box

In the beginning of the month I had the chance to participate in an Youth Exchange titled “We are all equal in creativity” which brought together 30 different young people from 6 European countries. Aim of the project was, through creative methods – such as theater, storytelling, and creative writing – to gain useful skills that we could later use in our work with discriminated groups, as means towards social integration and empowerment.

As part of the project, we also had the opportunity to meet with some people, currently asylum seekers in the area of Faenza in Italy and share with them some thoughts on integration.

Even if the project was quite more loose than I expected and despite the fact that we didn’t dig into creative writing as much as I hoped for, this type of gatherings always leave you some space for personal reflection and interpretation and always something comes out, even if at first glance some things may seem a bit pointless or excessive.

So, what did I get? After an engaging discussion on searching for possible solutions to the refugee situation, going through inner personal stages – from desperation of not being able to find any possible solution to numbness and incapability – I realized that yes, sometimes the bigger image seems already broken and unrepairable, but also wasting your individual possibility of contribution does not make things better. So of course our personal interactions and behavior in our microcosm may have nothing to do with the monsters crawling further away, but probably it is a step towards something, it is something concrete not just a discussion, a recommendation, a proposal.

But also this project left another bitter taste in the end; these people, these “asylum seekers” as everyone now wants to label them, giving them an impersonal and cold identity connected to their life situation have so many new things to fight for in this European environment. It is not just about making friends and finding a job, as our possible needs would be as European citizens migrating into another EU country. Their need is bigger and greater: it is a call for respect and understanding, a vital need that we tend to neglect. For some it can be easy to attain for others maybe not so undeniable.

So yes, in this cases you should think out of our microcosm, out of our little box of life, fears and expectations. 

In any case, I had some unexpected acquaintances, talked a lot, contemplated and collaborated with so many different people that I probably would not have the chance to do in any other case.


Monday, 28 August 2017

An adventurous Road Trip in the Balkans

As usual, time passed so fast that I didn’t realised summer had already come to its end.
These two last months have been punctuated by music festival, theatre of the Oppressed workshop, movie projections and of course Lent festival, an intense moment in Maribor City. I also enjoyed some free days to say hello to France, passing from town to town to make sure I won’t miss anyone.
But mostly, August will stay in my memories as the month I had my first backpacking / hitchhiking road trip. We were having this project in mind with Sofia for a long time now, since we arrived in Slovenia; in August, we will discover the Balkans… But the more time was passing, the less we were planning and when it was time to go, here was the final plan: we would have 12 days to visit 4 countries, and we would try to hitchhike as much as possible. We only had accommodation planned for 3 nights, but that was it, and we weren’t actually worried about it; we knew it would be challenging, but that we would manage to find a solution every D-Day.

Let the adventure begin!

We first went to Croatia, visited few towns and Krk island, then saw most of the coast thanks to an amazing Croatian guy that took us all the way down to Split, passing by all the little villages and explaining each of their stories.

We passed the border and arrived in Bosnia: after a stop in Mostar and its old bridge overhanging the transparent river, we arrived in Sarajevo. There I had a big surprise: first by the importance of Muslim religion and oriental atmosphere and secondly by the omnipresence of the war. For us, we could not feel this Capital without understanding its history, that’s why we decided to go for two free tours about history and war, completed by the war museum. The guide, which was a kid during the siege, explained what happened with a personal perspective, and took us to the crucial places, were we could understand the reality of Bosniaks at this time. We were staying in a really tiny hostel, which allowed us to create quick connections, and that’s how we met plenty of people from all parts of the world. It was amazing to see how even if we were coming from different backgrounds, culture and identity, we were all connected by this spirit of adventure and discovery.

We liked the town so much that we decided to stay one more day, and found some Italian companions that were also going to Montenegro the next day. We jumped in their car, compressed between backpacks and guitar, and during several days we had great laugh and saw great landscape.

After Kotor and Budva, we went to have a look in Podgorica, the capital, were an old British grandpa was waiting for us as our Couchsurfing host. It was funny to see that he actually had more energy that we did ! We took the night train (what an experience! #thisisBalkans) to Belgrade, were we met Milos, the resident artist which we collaborated with in Maribor. Belgrade is a nice, lively city, but it was time for us to come back to our little Maribor. We hitchhiked one last time, and finished our adventures in a wonderful Croatian sunset.

This way of travelling pushed me to trust my instinct, taught me to be in a “whatever mood”, asking people to camp in their garden, take us with them on their road without thinking about their opinion of us. Life is short, and without trying we would not get what life has to offer us. To wake up every morning without knowing where you will fall asleep at night can seem risky or worrying for some people, but I took it as a big shot of adrenaline. Thanks to these people that agreed on sharing their journey with us for one hour, one day or even more, we had the kind of trip we wanted: going with the flow and enjoying every part of the adventure.


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