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 prostovoljska 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, 28 April 2016

Slovenia and the refugees

One of the things I was interested in here was the attitude Slovenians have towards the refugees.
As far as I understand, Slovenia does not host a large number of refugees. They usually transit the country to get to places where they hope to have chances of a decent life, such as the wealthier Germany, Austria or the Northern countries of Scandinavia.
Back in March, Slovenia closed its borders for the refugees who want to transit the country. It will only keep its doors open to people who want to ask for asylum in the country, or refugees "on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with the rules of the Schengen zone".
Slovenia has a high unemployment rate (around 12.9%), so it only makes sense that the refugees will not have as many chances to be properly integrated economically speaking. But what about otherwise? Are Slovenes open to welcome and embrace hordes of people fleeing war and economic hardship?
Not surprisingly, the matter is split. I cannot speak for the whole population of course, I cannot do that even for my country, let alone for one that I’ve inhabited for a bit over two months. But from what I understand and seen around, there is a lot of conservativism and skepticism (to say the least) around the subject. People are afraid of the unknown, and I say that to be mild, and justify an act that I personally consider cruel, profoundly selfish and ignorant – to embrace your privilege and turn your face away from the people in need.
Fortunately I’ve seen around me lots of people that are willing to fight against ignorance and intolerance, and are actively taking measures to change mentalities and to welcome the refugees.
Last month there was a protest in Ljubljana, in front of a building hosting a number of refugees. People gathered with hateful slander sending the refugees home with their speech and banners. Fortunately though, the welcoming group was larger, and counteracted.
In Maribor I have participated to 3 activities revolving around the spreading of a tolerant speech, together with my organization and a number of other ones. And more similar actions will follow.

The first one was a sort of performance/flash mob – on a sunny weekend day, when people would sip their coffees in one of the central squares, individuals of a group of over 10 people stood up, took the microphone and spoke their mind about intolerance and tolerance, welcoming and understanding. I and two other people would then go and share colored balloons, which spread quickly throughout the square, as toddlers would come and ask for their share. I would have loved to understand the words of the speeches, but they were in Slovene so the only thing I could do is ask here and there. But people stopped and listened, some of them at least, and they applauded quite a few of times.

Then there was the Day of Change (Dan za spremembe), a day of volunteering, this year revolving around the theme of respect, namely solidarity with the refugees. A number of organizations and volunteers met, created banners with all sorts of related messages and then marched around the center. A cooking workshop was also organized, and migrants from different countries, among which Syria, Somalia and Iran have taught participants how to cook their local dishes. At the end everyone ate, and the food was truly amazing! Me and Michal have interviewed people involved in making this day happen, and a short film will released soon. :)

The third event I’ve participated to, this time only as audience, was a presentation and open discussion with the Syrian journalist and activist Adib Abdulmajid, who spoke at the Epeka gallery about the Syrian conflict and the matters around it. He was brilliant, from the amount of information that he shared, to the way he was keeping his speech lively, always keeping in mind the fact that the information was dense, largely unknown and a bit difficult to swallow. He was also encouraging the dialog and questions, and kept his cool throughout a number of speeches of a person who didn’t seem to realize or care that she was monopolizing, and through the questions of a young guy who wanted to send refugees home, since quite a bit of them, he thought, are not just fleeing war, but looking for a better life. I was furious listening to his questions, but Mr. Abdulmajid was very calm and tolerant, trying to answer them as good as he could, even referring to him using ‘my friend’. It was a very informative and hart-warming evening for me. Even if I was angry quite a bit of times throughout.

So yes, all in all perceptions seem to be somewhat similar to the ones in my country – there is hate and there is love, and everything in between. But I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who care about changing that for the better.

„Oh, hey! We’re spring-ing!“

How quickly are my questions changing. A month ago they were mostly about „What do I do?“ and „Where is that?“. I noticed that they changed – now, I ask „How can I do it?“ There are still lots of things happening and I still have problems remembering them all, being on time and other „adult things“. But I feel something changing – things are happening to me, but I’m also making things happen.

After the finish of the Corners project, around twenty EVS volunteers from all over Slovenia traveled to the beautiful town of Bled for our arrival training. I didn’t know, what to expect, so I didn’t expect a lot, my wish was only to meet a few great people doing the same thing and learn something. After feeling lost in the big city for the first month, the five days of intensive training and getting to know other volunteers were a completely refreshing experience, filling me with desires to meet those people again and go to places where they are and more. I’m already looking forward to the midterm training to see how we all progressed and changed.

Shortly after the training, another new experience was waiting for me – leading my first workshop! I wanted to try what teaching would feel like and what result I would get, with being in a different country being added to the challenge. Infopeka also encouraged me to try it, so I picked something I knew people would like to learn and I knew I could explain it – Photoshop. The topic was very basic: editing photographs the participants made, in simple ways, to get familiar with the program so it wouldn’t feel as intimidating. The workshop had more success than I thought – sixteen people have attended so far and we might do more.

There was also a wonderful event organized at Salon uporabnih umetnosti by the Ziz group – Ziz Gala! A lighthearted evening about giving awards to local alternative artists and making fun of the excessive amount of award ceremonies for artists in Slovenia at the same time under the slogan „Več je več“ or „More is more“, complete with a dress code, hand-made awards and attendants holding signs with signals such as „laughter“ or „applause“ for the audience. A very pleasant evening created with little money and a lot of passion.

The air is sweeter. A bicycle passes by every once in a while. Teenage couples are starting to appear on park benches. The sun peeks through blooming branches, painting shadows on pedestrians.

The busy spring in Maribor feels much warmer than I thought – in more ways than one.


Monday, 4 April 2016

Moja izkušnja EVS se je počasi prevesila v drugo polovico.

Novembra je bil v Berlinu čas za vmesni seminar. Če smo na uvodnem seminarju med sabo še govorili angleško, smo na vmesnem že vsi komunicirali v nemščini. Ponovno sem se srečala z nekaterimi prostovoljci iz prvega seminarja in spoznala nekaj novih obrazov. Čeprav stanujem blizu Berlina, je bilo tokrat prvič, da sem ga doživela v družbi skupine sovrstnikov iz celega sveta. Vmesni seminar žal traja samo pet dni, in ti so spet prehitro minili.

Ob mojem prihodu nazaj je bil Frizz že poln božičnega vzdušja. Sodelovala sem pri delavnici izdelovanja adventnih venčkov, ki so se ga udeležile predvsem družine beguncev iz Čečenije, kar me je prijetno presenetilo, saj so le ti muslimani, a očitno se dobro prilagajajo naši kulturi.

Decembra je naše mesto organiziralo tudi božični sejem na trgu pred našo hišo. Seveda se ga je udeležil tudi Frizz. Že novembra smo z otroki izdelovali snežake in Božičke iz keramičnih lončkov, ki smo jih potem prodajali na naši stojnici. Sejem je bil res lep: lesene hiške s kuhanim vinom in sladicami, vrtiljaki za otroke, oder z Božičkom in celo mali živalski vrt s kozami. Seveda sem obiskala tudi božični sejem v Berlinu, na Aleksandrovem trgu. V bistvu sta tam bila kar dva: prvi je bil »ta pravi«, imel je stojnice s kuhanim vinom, kandiranimi jabolki in ostalimi dobrotami ter ročnimi izdelki, celo drsališče okoli Neptunove fontane, čeprav je bilo pretoplo za sneg. Drugi pa je bil neverjeten. Počutila sem se, kot da sem v Gardalandu, le da je bilo več luči, glasbe in vzdušja. Bil je poln vrtiljakov, vlakcev smrti in hiš strahov. In bil je neverjetno poln ljudi.

Tja sem se vrnila še enkrat decembra, ko sem se v Berlinu ponovno srečala s tremi prostovoljci iz prvega seminarja. Zelo sem bila vesela, da sem jih lahko ponovno videla, saj noben ne razume prostovoljca v tuji deželi tako, kot drug prostovoljec. To veselo snidenje je žal zaznamoval neprijeten dogodek, saj so prostovoljki iz Madžarske med vožnjo na podzemni železnici iz žepa ukradli telefon. To mi nikakor ni šlo v glavo, saj sva se celo vožnjo pogovarjali, a očitno je tatu kljub vsemu med direndajem ob izstopu uspelo izmakniti telefon. Takrat sem se resnično zamislila in se zavedla vseh opozoril, ki jih nikoli nisem jemala preveč resno, kako ti lahko v velikem mestu takoj sunejo telefon ali denarnico.

Kmalu po nesrečnem dogodku sem bila nazaj v Berlinu, tokrat na poti na letališče, saj sem se čez božično-novoletne praznike vračala v Slovenijo k svoji družini. Čeprav uživam v svojem projektu, se je bilo lepo spet vrniti domov, videti domače in govoriti slovensko. Prazniki so hitro minili in kaj kmalu sem bila spet v Benetkah, na letališču in spet na poti nazaj v Berlin, nato pa uro in pol z vlakom spet v Seelow.

Januarja sem končno zbrala vse informacije in dokumente, da sem poslala prošnjo za priznavanje mojega poklica. Pred tem sva šla z Micho, mojim mentorjem, še v mestno hišo, kjer me je tudi uradno prijavil, da stanujem v Seelowu. Postopek je bil zelo kratek in brezplačen, ker mi je bilo v veliko olajšanje. Manj prijetno je to, da je potrebno tri mesece čakati na rezultate priznavanja poklica.

Micha me je peljal tudi na koncert od Ellie Goulding v Berlinu. Ponavadi ne hodim veliko na koncerte, zato sem bila navdušena, da sem lahko v živo videla in slišala tako veliko zvezdo. Dvorana je bila nabito polna in šov je bil res fenomenalen.

Nato je bil čas za učenje. Januarja sem zaključila s tečajem nemščine in odločila sem se v marcu opravljati izpit za Goethe Zertifikat B2. Bila sem zelo živčna, saj je izpit kar drag, tako da bi bila res škoda, če mi ne bi uspelo. Izpit je trajal pol dneva in je bil zelo temeljit, a na koncu sem kljub vsemu imela dober občutek. Na rezultat pa sem še morala počakati.

Takoj naslednji dan sem sedla v avtobus in se odpeljala na konferenco Jugend für Europa v Nürenberg. Tja me je poslal Micha, saj sem mu veliko pomagala pri iskanju novih prostovoljcev za naš počitniški tabor v Lebusu. Tam sem spoznala veliko strokovnjakov za mladinsko delo iz cele Nemčije in Avstrije. Pogostitev je bila izjemna, prav tako mesto, ki je čudovito lepo. Ko sem prišla nazaj, sem imela le en dan časa, da sem prepakirala svoj kovček, takoj zatem sem namreč že letela na dopust v Köln. Tam sem se srečala s prostovoljcem iz Španije, ki sem ga spoznala na seminarju. V hostlu sem spoznala tudi nekaj zanimivih ljudi in skupaj smo raziskovali mesto.

Naslednji teden sem se za velikonočni vikend odpravila v Prago. Tam nisem bila prvič, a Praga je tako čudovito mesto, da se ga ne naveličaš. V hostlu se mi je pridružila moja družina, tako da smo velikonočne praznike preživeli skupaj. Mesto je bilo nabito polno, glavni trg pa poln stojnic in velikonočnega vzdušja.

Takoj naslednji dan po dolgi avtobusni vožnji iz Prage sem se odpeljala na počitniški tabor v Lebus. Tukaj trajajo božične in velikonočne počitnice po dva tedna in v drugem tednu počitnic smo organizirali mednarodni dekliški tabor z nemškimi in poljskimi deklicami. Na žalost nam je nagajalo vreme, a punce so vseeno uživale v aktivnostih, vsi pa smo se najbolj veselili izleta v Berlin, obiska v Sea Life in nakupovanja. Zadnji dan smo le imeli nekaj sreče z vremenom in sodelavca sta za otroke postavila napihljivi grad, da so se lahko popolnoma znoreli, preden smo jih odpeljali domov.

April se je začel z veliko zabavo v kulturni hiši, ki smo se je udeležili tudi skoraj vsi sodelavci iz Frizza. Po devetih mesecih sodelovanja se med njimi počutim sproščeno in tudi oni so me sprejeli medse. Do zaključka mojega projekta me ločijo le še trije meseci. V tem času sem ugotovila, da me delo z otroki resnično veseli. Videla sem, da jim znam pomagati in prisluhniti. Vem, da želim nadaljevati z delom v tej smeri in po možnosti ostati v Nemčiji.

Lucija Korošec