Personal report about European Voluntary Service project “Volunteer for Community”

I, Dita Mancevica, started this project and arrived in Romania, Sfantu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyorgy) on 15th of April 2011. My sending organization in Latvia is “Bernu un Jauniesu muzikas klubs (BJMK)” and hosting organization in Romania Federaţia Organizaţiilor Civile din Judeţul Covasna (CIVEK)”. After arriving I was introduced with my mentor Anna Toth with who I kept contact and arranged meetings during the whole period of my project. I’m very happy about the choice of my mentor, we had a good contact, she was very open to help and interested in my activities and life here. I didn’t had any serious problems, during my project, so there was no help needed from my mentor, but I’m sure, if there would be anything, she would be able to help me to solve anything. On 24th of April I took On-Arrival training for Volunteers in Predeal, organized by Romanian Nation Agency in which I was participating in many different activities with the goal to prepare myself psychologically for a life in multicultural and international environment and to inform about structure of European Voluntary Service, share fears, expectations and learn about problem and conflict solving, national culture, history and traditions about this region.

In May I started to have Hungarian language lessons which periodically continued until January 2012. In this learning period I have learned only basics of the language, it was more concentrated on grammar and structure of the language, that’s why I don’t feel confident about using language for making dialogs, expressing my feelings or writing. But I’m able to understand the context of conversation if I pay attention to it and can do some basic conversation, using some phrases, for shopping in a market or asking directions on street.  Language training was provided to me in a very good level, I had a good contact with my teacher, I was provided with all the learning materials which were needed. I enjoyed learning process and found language interesting for me.

In June I started to introduce myself with the main object of my activities – Sepsi Greenway. I took an excursion to a part of it to see hoe it looks in real life and then we started to work on “Be active on Sepsi greenway!” project – brainstorming ideas, putting together activities and started to write an application for it. Also in June I organized children drawing exhibition „Szülőföldem Székelyföld”, visited Nagy Mozes Elmeleti Liceum in Kezdivasarhely and “Change Direction – YMCA” camp of Transylvania Festival in Sovata in order to present EVS to youth, I spent two days with our mentor Anna from organization „Diakónia”, helping her with one of her events and participated in team building activities, visited Barót with presentation about EVS and Latvia.

In July I participated in Nemere Utja camp organized by neighbor organization Zold Nap, about improving greenway. It was useful to have experience with that because we did similar thing later in our project.

During July I visited many various organizations (as Székely National Museum Foundation, Kálmán László Mycological Society, Philadelphia Pro Familia), CIVEK members, in order to get to know about their service. While visiting, I helped out and participated with their activities, I cleaned up mushroom house in Şugaş Băi, prepared materials for mushroom exhibition and couple of times I took a part in activities with disabled children.

September was full with activities about promoting, organizing and realizing project “Be active on Sepsi Greenway!”. Full report about implementation of the project is published here – http://ro.evolveandinvolve.ro/?p=39 .

In the end of September I took a part in Mid-term training for volunteers in Predeal, where I did evaluation about my project activities and shared experience with other volunteers in Romania.

In October I started work with introducing information to community card database, which I continued to work on until the end of my project. In the middle of month I participated in World War cleaning activity, after that I helped other volunteer Miks to make an informative video about that activity.

In November for several days I worked with local scout association in Christmas workshop and did a presentation about EVS and Latvia in Kezdivasarhely.

In December I worked on informative brochure about Sepsi greenway, did a presentation about my volunteering activities in project.

In January I also did a presentation about organizational part of project “Be active on Sepsi greenway!” in training, organized by EMI and I helped to organize and realize Ice Skating Carnival for kids.

During the whole project period, I took care of a part of bookkeeping and kept active our newly made blog webpage https://evscivek.wordpress.com/ .

In conclusion, I have no disappointments at all about realization of this project. I think this project carried out everything that was written and promised before, nothing more and nothing less.

My personal development has improved, during this year, I feel more open and sure about myself. Sometimes it was hard for me to improve my social skills, because I’m not that communicative, talkative and open as a person, but I needed to overcome it while dealing with people with different mentalities.

As a new skills for a future job I can mention, that I have gained experience about project writing and realising, fundraising, l have learned have to work with different picture and video processing progams.

My knowledge of different cultures is one of the main things that I have gain participating in this program. During this year I have met a person from almost every European (and not only) country, which would be hard to do in any other way. So now I have more knowledge and tolerance for different cultures, traditions, religions and besides that, I had a chance to know how my country look from a side and look to it from a different perspective.

I have become more tolerant as a person and more active as a citizen and I definitely have gain more knowledge and respect  about local community here, in this region, and I think that I have succeed in making a good contact with people here.

My cooperation with Sending and Hosting organizations were very good, if I had questions, I got answers I needed and I felt the support from them. I didn’t have any serious problems about anything during my service, so I can say that this project with all the tasks and activities was a success for me. I’m happy and satisfied about my personal results after this long time project and I don’t regret my choice.

I recommend EVS to others, because in one year, working as volunteer in a different country, is possible to learn more that in three years in high school. It is a good chance to take some time off, out of used comfort zone and environment, during this time it is easier to set priorities. Being a volunteer helps individual as a person and at the same time it helps community and other people.

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Personal report about EVS service project – ”Volunteer for Community”

In this project I arrived at 27.08.2011, but my activity started at 01.09.2011. This project activity ends at 15.03.2012. My Sending Organization is Bernu un jauniesu muzikas klubs, which prepared me with AXA insurance, international travel arrangements and motivating. My Host Organisation provided me with personal support by helping to integrate in society, they gave task-related support, linguistic support by organizing language classes. Host organization provided me with an activity plan as well safe working and the living conditions and introduced me with my mentor. My mentor was Anna Toth, priest and president of Diakonia Organization from Sfantu Gheorghe.

My service included selecting, collecting, organizing data from database. I helped in organizing and coordinating project activities-social, educational, environmental. I participated in developing and promoting of Sepsi Greenway, promoted in schools and informed community of such possibility, to involve and stimulate the community to participate in activities, organized by our organization. I helped in organizing Mobility Week in Sepsiszentgyorgy. I participated in different activities, such as cleaning the 1. World War graves, presenting Latvian culture and tradition, and documenting and filming the activities during the EVS service.

Miks Kancevics 14.03.2012

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After Transylvania, Hungary doesn’t feel like a foreign country to me

This February will stay in my memory as a month when I visited the lovely city of Budapest for a very first time.

Reason for this visit was quite unusual and serious – me and Miks felt important to take a part in a referendum, organized by Latvian government, about “Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia” that provides for the Russian language the status of the second official language.

As I would like to embody an image of active citizen and I care about Latvian language I decided to go all the way to Budapest to have a chance to vote. It is ironic that there is no Latvian embassy not only in Romania, but almost in whole Balkan region (that is the reason why I have already skipped one referendum and one election in these past 10 months), so the closest voting station from here is only in Budapest, which in the end turned out to be a good thing, because it gave a chance to go for a small trip and see a little of Hungary, country which feels so close living here, but the border still is more than 8 long train-hours away.

Although I’m kind of an adventurous traveler, I was ready to make these 719 km by hitchhiking in spite of cold and snow problems on local roads, we got lucky that it succeed to make a little found rising for our traveling expanses at least in the borders of Romania, so the longest part of the trip we made with a train.

Well, this entry is mostly dedicated to people who were able to help us so I just wanted to say that we are truly grateful to all the organizations and persons who gave us financial support, to make this happen!

About the results of the referendum, long story short – we succeed to preserve the status of Latvian language of our country.  That means no (official) Russian language in Latvia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latvian_constitutional_referendum,_2012

Total results shows that voting station in embassy of Latvia in Budapest was visited by 58 voters, which give me a nice feeling that I’m not the only Latvian living surrounded by Hungarians, and it also proves a locally popular statement that “Latvians are everywhere”.

Also I wanted to share my excitement about how lovely it was to finally visit Hungary. Beside Budapest, we decided to stay for a night in Szeged, which was a right thing to do because it is totally worth seeing.  It is very clean and fresh, successful in attracting tourists and many, many Erasmus students and people there rides a bicycle a lot, even during a winter.

Maybe it was because of that nice spring weather (+10 and sunny) while we were staying there but I really found a place in my heart for Budapest. Just loved the city! Probably because of my soon returning to home it reminded me a little bit of my beloved town Riga, but I spent the whole day walking around and enjoying everything that it has to offer, starting from museums like Terror Háza and Ludwig, and ending with adoring pretty architecture and famous view of Danube.

Now I understand the love that Hungarians in whole Europe have for their capital.

As  I’m in my departure state of mind already, I’m happy that this trip can be as a nice closure for my time spent here.

But by now,

Viszlát!

Dita

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hó sniegs snow zăpadă schnee снег

A long time has past since my last entry and a lot has happened too. More time I spend here, closer I feel the date of my departure, 16th of March, which I’m waiting with mixed feelings.

Some circles have closed – events, connected with Sepsi Greenway, has frozen since it’s covered with snow, but maybe it’s just healthy for it to catch some winter sleep, cause when spring will come, sure that there will be some other projects organized, but just without help of us anymore. Another thing that has ended is collaboration with our previous project coordinator Livia. After saying a sweat (this time it was meant literally) goodbye to her, we met our new colleague Mónika, and as we all know that all things are for good,  I hope with her we will have a nice end of our project.

latvian honeycake

Thank-You-Cake that we baked and decorated for Livia.

In these past few months I have participated in wide rage of activities. Starting with different kind of an office work (bookkeeping, entering data for community card database, helping Diakonia with youthpass database, making a poster and presentation for a event in Kezdi, working on a informative brochure about Sepsi Greenway, helping with resume of GTP project results, etc) and beside all that – participating in some very unusual activities like Advent wreath creating workshop, organized by local scout association in nearby youth palace. Working there I found very interesting, because it was different from my usual tasks and I enjoy doing creative activities with children. At first I found my limited knowledge of Hungarian language as a barrier, but still I was able to give some practical help – like, helping smallest kids with making base for a wreath, preparing materials for decorating it, making Advent candles using beeswax plates and even helping with cleaning up the room between activities.

advent workshop christmas decorations children romaniaadvent workshop christmas decorations children romania

Another unusual event that I just loved to participate in was an ice skating carnival. I absolutely adore that idea about dressing up and skating around in masks and it seemed that kids who participated in these activities enjoyed it as well. Before that I haven’t been on skates for about 10 years so it also was a chance to restore my loving relationship with ice skating, although it took the whole next week walking around with bruised hip. And I can just wonder how good those local kids are on skates, no matter if they are dressed up as princesses, Dracula or Scooby-Doo.

ice skating carnival ice skating carnivalice skating carnivalice skating carnival

As much time I have spent working with kids, I spend with PowerPoint. Lately I have done tree different presentations, one in a promotion of EVS in Kezdivasarhely (you can see a little from that in Miks previous blog entry), other about importance of volunteering, introducing members of our organization with current results of my activities in “Volunteer for Community” project in General Assembly 2011 event, and another where we shared our experience about organizational part of project realization, referencing to our “Be active on Sepsi Greenway” project that we did last summer, for participants of training “Path II”, organized by Hungarian Youth in Transylvania association “EMI”.

As we already have made the EVS promotion presentation (with a small introduction to Latvian culture), I have plans about spending last month of my project here visiting local high schools and presenting EVS to 12th graders as an option, cause not all of the students here are informed about their opportunities and I hope the information and experience that we can present can be useful to someone here.

About my life here in Sepsiszentgyorgy I can share that finally I have visited by a couple of my Latvian friends (and also other volunteers and even a couchsurfer), which was like a pleasant breeze in my a little monotonous social life here in this town. I have traveled a bit around Romania, seeing my volunteer friends myself, who are too lazy to visit me here in the edge of wonderful Transylvania, haha.

sepsiszentgyorgy view from a platfor next to BRASOV letters beggining of winter

Such a pity that I wasn’t able to go home and visit my family for Christmas, but this time was made a bit happier because of our mentor Anna who gave us all what’s needed to prepare some small improvisation of Christmas dinner and our project (ex)coordinator Livia, who knew about my secret wish but still made a surprise with gifting us a real, green Christmas-tree (with a box of decorations). Such a trifle but it really gave that cheerful Christmas-at-home sense that I needed so much.

hungarian christmas decoration

As sitting alone for one winter holiday was enough for me, for New Year ’s Eve we decided to go somewhere out and visit our Latvian volunteer friend in Bucharest. So this year for me has started with being in the middle of crowd of joyful people and screaming “Happy New Year!” in Latvian to everyone around.

I have only a little more than a month here to spend, so I’m kind of packing my bags in my mind already (which makes me want to throw a garage sell, because I won’t be able to fit all my stuff in my luggage anyway) but I have set two things to do before I leave (beside my work duties) – I want to finally go to a play in local theatre, that I have heard so many good reviews of, and as I’m living kind of in a mountain region and it’s winter, I would like to try some skiing, funny, but I have never done it before. I wish myself good luck about these resolutions,

and take care about yourselves in this freezing weather,

Dita.

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EVS prezentation in Kézdivásárhely

In purpose to inform people about opportunity of voluntary service, me and Dita went to this town and made presentation about EVS voluntary work. We were speaking about how to become volunteer, what is the good aspects of being, about motivation and we added nice part about Latvia, our homeland, were we showed habits, foods and traditions of latvian people.

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All kinds of things

Since the very beginning of this journey in Romania I have tried to participate in all activities and given options. I surely can say that I am happy to be here and I do enjoy this time. During this period from my arrival, I have learned simple Hungarian words and phrases, I’ve participated in Sepsi Greenway painting and cleaning, I’ve  been in cemetery were, we cleaned graves of 1 world war soldiers, I’ve been in Predal were volunteers had their training and also I’ve made two short films about Greenways activities and grave cleaning event.

I am a bit sorry about being tight in words. But hopefully these movies, made by me and Dita, will show things more interesting.

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Gold and silver is the autumn

sepsiszentgyorgy (sfantu gheorghe) in autumn

My first Transylvanian summer here has ended and the biggest project so far – “Be active on Sepsi Greenway!” also has finished and I can look back to it with no shame.

I’m glad that I was able to participate in every stage of making it. Starting from very beginning, brainstorming ideas about possible events, writing application for that in June, helping to create volunteering team, promoting activities in the town and internet, going to local schools with a posters and flyers, introducing and inviting everyone to participate (thanks to school representatives for being very kind and understanding), than participating in every organized activity myself, and ending with project evaluation and creating the representative and report materials.

sepsi greenway tree planting romania scouts sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Opening activity of the mobitlity week - planting oak trees on Sepsi Greenway with local scouts (16.09.2011.)

sepsi greenway tree planting romania scouts sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Volunteer team with the first planted tree

sepsi greenway bicycle tours romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Gathering and route checking before going for 50km tour on 17th September

sepsi greenway bicycle tours romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Beginning of challenging 50km bicycle tour, group leavs the town

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

21st September - first indicator painting and cleaning tour. With the help of the school kids from Árkos, we painted part of the greenway between Sepsiszentgyörgy and Kálnok.

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Results of the indicator painting

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

22nd of September - painting indicators on Sepsiszentgyörgy - Uzon part.

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe ngo fest civil days

Our Sepsi Greenway stand at Civil day NGO fest in Sepsiszentgyörgy, 23.09.2011.

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Green cinema, showing movie filmed by local biking enthusiasts crossing whole greenway trail (around 100km in total) in one day

sepsi greenway critical mass romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

People gathering for critical mass ride

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

24th of September, final indicator painting tour, Uzon - Sepsimagyarós.

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Painting indicators involving local students and teachers from Uzon

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

sepsi greenway romania sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorghe

Collected garbage from floodplain territories of river Negra

All I can say is that I enjoyed every part of it, especially the realization of the project which really gave a feeling that I’m doing something useful. The most important thing is that project involved so many young school kids and I hope that it did leave some long lasting impact to them.

Notable is that even officially project is finished, we are planning to continue some activities like planting more trees because late fall is the best time for that, also there’s still some materials left for painting so we’re thinking of organizing more indicator-painting tours involving local school youth covering all the deepest corners of the greenway. It shows that project has justified its goals and locals truly care about improving the trail and surroundings, it’s not just only because of this project. I hope that this kind of events can be annual, continuing every year, that this summer was just a start of making the greenway more accessible and easier to use for the all biking enthusiasts and outdoor activity supporters.

I wanted to say a huge thank you for all who participated in project activities and put a lot of effort and enthusiasm to make this work, it was very nice to meet such a caring and passionate people.

In the middle of October, I also took a part as a volunteer in cleaning of WWI graves in local cemetery. I don’t know if the fallen solders ever would imagine that after more than ninety years a Latvian girl will plant flowers on their graves, but this kind of activities just let me show the deserved respect to the local history and traditions, which are actually not that different from ours. I was glad to see that local youth was active in participation, cares and still remembers importance of historical events in this region.

WWI cemetery sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorgheWWI cemetery sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorgheWWI cemetery sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorgheWWI cemetery sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorgheWWI cemetery sepsiszentgyorgy sfantu gheorgheAnother thing that reminded me, that I’m already in a second half of my EVS project and time is flying by too fast, was volunteer mid-term meeting and training in lovely town of Preadal organized by Nation Agency.  Although in mid-term group we were only 6 volunteers, our training was happening at the same time with on-arrivals, volunteers who have just started their projects here in Romania, so it gave a chance to meet and spend 5 days in a group of 70 young people from 23 different European countries. In the end it turned out as a big cultural and volunteering experience exchange. Mid-term training was mostly about evaluating our projects, goals that we have already reached, problems that we have faced, and our future opportunities after EVS. After hearing from other volunteers living in Romania, I realized that I need to start appreciate my project and organization even more, because so far I actually don’t have anything serious to complain about and I hope that it will stay like this till the very end of my project.

EVS mid-term on-arrival trainings romania Predeal
Meeting other Latvian EVS volunteers in Romania from on-arrival training

Take care,

Dita

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