YOU ASKED FOR IT, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO TRUDGE UP THERE!
My dream EVS should be in some Scandinavian Cultural Centre, where I should become more familiar with cultural management, production and PR. But it happened in a different way. I lived 12 months in Romanian Media Centre, where language courses for seniors were provided, and I lived here in intense carefreeness. It was not the plan at all, but I started to be involved in civic activism, community projects and ecology. So now I am in local economy, green transport, garbage management and I am more and more fascinated by eco/recycle-art.
EVS as a laboratory
My sending organisation was “Stanica-Záriečie” - a cultural node, where I did my university practice and in that time I met foreign volunteers there. In my mind my future was related to a similar environment and community. On the other hand I was not self-confident in creating and producing cultural and artistic projects after graduating in Cultural studies. I needed to link my studies and future career. EVS seemed to me as appropriate lab for testing my competences and personal limits. So I looked for a hosting organisation in relaxed style, just tuning my CV and motivation letter I wasted one month. The contacted organisations answered that they preferred another candidate or they accepted me for a period, with which I did not agree. Just a few days before deadline I got an e-mail concerning „last-minute open call” project in Romania. Activities partly met my expectations: it was a media centre with social and intercultural trainings, even arts were mentioned.
Overcoming prejudices and stereotypes in interspace and in split time
„Your organs will be great for human trafficking and the rest of your body will be used for prostitution! “ - That was the most common reaction of my family and friends, who have never been in Romania. This made me sure; I am going there and no comment! Any stay out of your origin country confronts semi-finished information with reality – and it turns to correction of opinions. I found out that Romania is not a country of Gypsies (even the percentage of them is lower than in Slovakia!), not all the Romanians are dark (as blonde I was no curiosity) and even though there is a big number of street dogs, they are treated in similar way as cows in India and local municipalities try to regulate number of dogs by sterilisation and by marking. This is about overcoming prejudices, but! I did not expect that some of them would be confirmed and other would get stronger. EVS can work as interspace and split time and multicultural community of volunteers from different countries is created in the hosting country. Thanks to that I could say: to be able to understand English spoken by French natives you need at least one week incubation period. Germans are never late, but Spanish and Portuguese are kind of „maňana.“ And Italians cook pasta and pizza that will not stay on the table for a long time. As the only Slovak I had to answer generalising questions. If my country is an EU member, why did Czecho-Slovakia divorce (as Romania has similar experience with Moldavia) – these questions I considered as easy ones. More difficult ones were questions if all the Slovaks are like me and how are “Rumburak” and “Arabela” now. (famous Czecho-Slovak TV fairy-tale series characters)
EVS volunteer as “Yes Man”
As EVS volunteer I started to act as “Yes Man” (in my case “Yes Woman”). Jim Carrey in movie with the same title tried therapy, in which he reacted positively on any impulse. My foreign stay kicked me in this role. For this I would never be brave in Slovakia, but in Romania it just happened – I cancelled social filters – any request, invitation by anybody – I agreed (I said YES). There was time, willingness and curiosity. I dealt with target groups, who I would avoid in Slovakia, because of simple reason – I feel too sorry (kids from orphanage, refugees, and seniors). But “Yes Woman” attitude helps to create network of social contacts – extremely fast. This involved me in participation in activities related to preparing Timisoara city campaign for ECC 2020. Former director of campaign is working also for community development in Stanciova village, where volunteers are hosted via WWOOFing a Help Exchange.
Conclusion or what I have gained
During the EVS year I have grown in different ways, I lost some illusions (even about myself), but I created new ones, too. My project was no „walk in paradise“, but something that could be described by a Slovak proverb as „dancing around hot gruel” followed by finding out that this gruel does not need to be eaten immediately after it has been cooked (it would be too hot to be eaten, then). Thanks to everybody who participated in my story. It was a great time! I would not mind to experience it once again, even if right from tomorrow. HOWGH!