Monika

 

She is positive, decisive and brave, steeled in the heart of Siberia. Her family moves from Uray to Ufa, the capital city of the Republic of Bashkortostan in 1999, when she is 9. Later on, she receives her post-graduate education in Applied Computer Science and Economics.

In today’s interview we are introducing you Gyuzel, one of the 6 ESC volunteers in our team, part of the project “Volunteering circles”.

Hello, Gyuzel, it’s nice to have you here. Starting from the very beginning, can you tell us how did you decide to become a volunteer in this project?

I have been a volunteer for 5 years already. After my first volunteering experience in 2015, I got addicted and since then I have always been trying to look for opportunities in Russia or abroad. I have participated as a volunteer in many international sport events, such as the World Football Cup. Then I went to a volunteer camp in Finland and after this I got to know about EVS, because before that I didn’t know so much about it. I started to search for projects abroad related to refugees, because I really liked my experience in Finland and I wanted to work again with refugees. So, I found this project and also one in Turkey. I was accepted in both, but I chose Bulgaria over Turkey because, the project in Turkey was in a city in the border between Turkey and Syria and I was afraid to stay there.

Do you like the project you are involved in right now?

Yes, I really like to go to camps and to organize excursions for refugees and also when we organize the Refugee Month. I also really liked it. (The Refugee month is November)

What do you enjoy most in your volunteering activities?

To interact with kids.

Did you have chance to make new friends there?

No, not yet. (smiling)

And did you learn something about their culture for example?

Yes, especially these gestures. For example when you want to ask someone to come to you, you make like wave with your fingers but they do it in the opposite way.

Oh, really?

Yeah, yeah. So when you do it your fingers they look up but when they do it their fingers look down because when you do it with the fingers looking up that means that you want to come and mock the person and for them it is rude.

Interesting. And how do you find the life in Sofia. Is it easy to live here or not so easy?

In the beginning it was difficult, because before that I was living with my parents and I didn’t have to face with problems like buying stuff every day and cleaning all the time, but here I am responsible for my life by myself so I have to think about all these things starting from food, cleaning, also leisure time and everything. So I think I became more independent here.

What was the most challenging thing for you in your work, life, adapting here?

I didn’t have problems with the language, so maybe the currency. Because in the beginning I had to convert everything to Russian rubles, because I didn’t know the value of leva, I know the value of Russian rubles that’s way I had to convert and every time when you go somewhere if you pick up 10 things, you convert 10 things in your mind but then I realized I need to think in levas not in rubles.

How do you spend usually your free time?

Before the quarantine I tried to participate in as many activities as I could. My friends volunteers, who I met during the trainings, were often organizing storytelling, cultural nights, I tried to go and visit them. Also I had a sport card, I was going almost every day to the gum and I practiced yoga, also I was making videos for my Youtube channel. 

Do you find this volunteering experience helpful for your self-development?

Oh yes, I think yes. I started to understand myself more. I think I have become more independent open-minded really. Because as I live in a Muslim Republic we have a lot of restrictions. Here you can do all you want and no one will judge you, that’s way I think yeah I have become more open minded and patient as well.

Do you have any plans what you want to do after your project?

No. (smiling)

What about during your project, would you like to travel somewhere after the quarantine?

I would like to visit some places, but as Russian citizen I don’t have Schengen visa to travel, so probably I will travel only to Balkan countries I haven’t been before, like Albania, Crna gora.

Are there any tips you would like to share to the future volunteers?

To take advantage from the beginning, from the day you come here, be initiative, spread your ideas, don’t wait for a task but be really active and initiative.

Thank you very much Gyuzel. We wish you good luck with the rest of the project and many unforgettable experiences.

With friends at Rila’s lakes
“Human library: Make food, not war” at Cinema House, November 2019
During Human library in Plovdiv, September 2019
Drum circle
In front of the Belgrade Fortress

The project “Volunteering Circles” (2018-2-BG01-KA125-048262) is Co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and Human Resource Development Center (HRDC).

 Posted by Monika at 12:46 EVS news, Volunteer activities, Volunteer news Comments Off on Gyuzel Gaffanova – to keep on expanding
 

Spanish cuisine is worldwide recognized and Spain is the perfect destination for gastronomy lovers. It is included within the Mediterranean cuisine and the so-called Mediterranean diet, said to be healthy and varied. 

The fact is that our cuisine converges techniques and ingredients from many different parts of the world, since it has been heavily influenced by the historical processes given in the Peninsula, as well as by the geography and the climate. It is the result of a complex history of conquests that has modified traditions and incorporated new ones. All Celts, Iberians, Tartessos, Romans, Visigoths, Berbers and Arabs brought new ingredients to current Spain, and the discovery of America also allowed us to import products that are a strong basis in our gastronomy nowadays. Actually, we owe to America three of the four recipes proposed below, since they include tomatoes and potatoes.

You have probably heard that Spanish meal schedules are a bit crazy, and I have to confirm it. Breakfast hours vary depending on the wake-up hour, but lunch, consisting of one or two courses plus dessert, is usually from 2 to 4 pm, and dinner from 9 to 11 pm. It is common to have some snacks in between, and we love food so much that we can even have appetizers right before lunch or dinner in the form of tapas (tiny rations). In our culture it is also common to have meals, especially lunch, followed by sobremesa, tabletalk that can last hours.

Even though there are a lot of variety among regions, most Spanish recipes include some sort of animal or animal-derived product, no matter if meat, fish, eggs. We also use a lot of vegetables to combine with them or just to eat as a main dish or side dish. In this case, since the writer is vegetarian, the proposals are meat-free.

Our trio of cold soups (perfect for spring and summer!)

Salmorejo: a delicious thick cream

Ingredients for six: 1kg of tomatoes; 200 gr loaf of bread (the proportion of bread can vary depending on the water that tomatoes have and how consistent the crumb is); 150 ml extra virgin olive oil; 1 garlic clove; salt to taste.

Instructions: Wash the tomatoes, crush them, and pass them through a fine strainer. In a bowl, place the bread and cover it with the tomato puree, leaving it to soak for about ten minutes. Incorporate the garlic and crash with a mixer or Thermomix. Add the extra virgin olive oil to achieve the perfect emulsion and a thick and creamy result. Whip again until the salmorejo is uniform, with a nice orange color and compact enough to bear on its surface the traditional tripping pieces: Serrano ham and hard-boiled egg.

Gazpacho: in every family there is an infallible recipe

Ingredients for six: 1 kg pear tomato; 1 Italian green pepper; 1 cucumber; 2 cloves of garlic; 50 ml extra virgin olive oil; 50 gr loaf of hard bread; 250 ml water; 5 g salt; 30 ml sherry vinegar. Some people also use onion or red pepper.

Instructions: Chop all the solid ingredients and add the liquids, crushing everything in the glass blender. It is not necessary to peel because everything is passed through the fine strainer. Put in the fridge a couple of hours before consuming (never add ice!)

Ajoblanco: no two ajoblanco alike

Ingredients for 1L: 100 gr. unroasted almond; 2 cloves of garlic; 1L fresh water; 150 gr. of breadcrumb; 100 ml. extra virgin olive oil; 30 ml. white wine vinegar; a pinch of salt.

Instructions: Soak the bread if it is hard so that the crumb softens. Remove from the scab and reserve it. Meanwhile, boil a pot with water. When it boils, put the almonds in a strainer and give a couple of blanches with a ladle: pour two or three tablespoons of boiling water over it. Chill for a few minutes and peel them. The traditional way of making ajoblanco is to crush the garlic and almonds in a mortar, but it can be done with a mixer. Add the crumb, oil and vinegar and beat. Add water and chill in the fridge.

Perfect ending: the incomparable Spanish omelette

Ingredients for four: 700 gr potatoes; 300 gr onion; 6 eggs; salt; olive oil

Instructions: Peel the onion and cut into julienne strips. Put in a frying pan over very low heat, cook very slowly, stirring occasionally so that it is poached. Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into thin slices, uniform in size. Leave in water for 15 minutes and warm up a pan with abundant olive oil. Add the potatoes and fry (you can choose to confit them, cooking slowly over low heat, or brown them over high heat). Remove the potatoes and drain in a large bowl. Drain the onion when it is done, and put on the potatoes. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl, stirring with a fork so that the three ingredients are mixed well. Curdle omelette in a pan with a tablespoon of oil for about three or four minutes and turn (with the help of a flat plate).

That’s all! I hope you enjoy these delights that are so cheap and easy to make!

Author: Beatriz Cintaz Cantarero, volunteer in the project “Volunteering circles”

The project “Volunteering Circles” (2018-2-BG01-KA125-048262) is Co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and Human Resource Development Center (HRDC).



 Posted by Monika at 16:16 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Travel to Spain with your stomach
 

Coming from sunny Madrid with a suitcase full of smiles, optimism, wild hitchhike stories and unceasing excitement, Bea becomes part of the project “Volunteering circles” part of the European Solidarity Corps program, driven by her desire to bring positive impact in refugees’ lives.

For her 25 years she has behind her a BA in Psychology and a Master degree in International Solidarity Action. Being a volunteer supporting women involved in prostitution, she holds the dream to work in the field of gender violence and migration empowering women survivors of trafficking to reclaim control of their lives and  to move on from thеir past.


In today’s interview we are introducing you Bea and her volunteering experience in Sofia – just the way they are.

Hello Bea, will you tell us first how you decided to become a volunteer here?

I wanted to work with refugees. At the time I was looking for a project there weren’t so many options. Apart from the “Volunteering circles” project in Sofia I had selected two more – one in Slovenia – volunteering in a center for mental pathologies and in Stockholm being a social worker for refugees. As I was looking to work with refugees I had to choose between Sweden and Sofia. I didn’t want to freeze so much,  so Sofia felt more appealing to me – easy to travel, not so ordered, strict, a bit chaotic, messy just like me – I am messy and disordered so the project and the city were a good combination for me.

Did you have any challenging moments living and volunteering in Sofia?

Generally no. The biggest challenge for me was to adapt in the office. I came with a lot of energy at the beginning and wanted to start working on things right away, but in the process you come to see that things need time to be planned and delivered, so I had to learn how to be patient. Also what was difficult for me was to see that here at 9-10 o’clock there are not so many people in the streets, in Madrid it’s just the same as it’s a very vibrant city. People are also more open. Here I happened to observe two types of people – cold and suspicious and more welcoming ones. I am a very welcoming person but for me is not easy to bond in the workshops I am attending for example because people prefer to speak in Bulgarian and I don’t really speak the language. But I like Sofia as the atmosphere is more free – the bus driver can stop suddenly and grab a coffee, I have seen this and I really like it.

You have immersed yourself in different initiatives apart from your activities at CVS, can you tell us more about them?

Yes, in the beginning I wanted to support the project of Caritas in Busmantsi. I joined the organization team behind the Feminist march for 8th of March, I am part of an informal group raising the awareness of the refugee situation in the border. A cause that I also want to support more is Fridays for Future.

What about your free time, how do you spend it?

I am a really sociable person. I like to be with people. I hang out with the girls, attend cultural events, bars, I travel, dance – I am going to salsa classes, I cook a lot and I am active in different initiatives regarding gender and equality.

Do you have any plans what you would like to do after finishing your project?

I don’t want to think so much about it.  I want to continue traveling and working in different countries. I’d like to find a project in South America and to explore this part of the world, as well India at some point. I want to combine discovering and traveling with something more organized. But I don’t want a commitment for 1 year.

Are there any tips you would like to give to the future volunteers?

Yes, totally! First of all, to feel what they want to do, to prepare mentally and to set their priorities –language learning, to gain work experience in certain sphere, to meet other people, what they want to develop. Then to find as much as possible information before they decide to apply.

International volunteering is often said to be a life-changing experience. What do you think about it?

In my case, I still don’t have the sensation of “before” and “after”, even though I’m waiting for it or maybe it will happen when I’m back at home, although right now with all the coronavirus crisis I don’t know what is going to happen with the project. Nonetheless, coming to Sofia radically changed my life and my mates’ because we moved to a new country with a new language, started a new project with new people, moved in a new house and a lot more of “new” etceteras.

If you compare yourself before starting your project and now in its middle – do you find any changes in yourself?

I think I have realized through team work and coexistence in the apartment that I am not as flexible as I thought and now I am trying to develop more patience in myself. It’s really easy to blame others before blaming yourself, but this is not a nice trait. I have also learned more things about me through seeing myself in such a new situation. So for the moment, the change would be more in the level of self-perception or self-knowledge. I came to Bulgaria to challenge myself and gain confidence as a professional and that is still in process – I hope to have the chance to develop my ideas, to feel proud of my work and skills.

No doubt you will succeed! And finally can you tell us what are your first associations with these words – volunteering, young people, Bulgarians, kiselo mlyako?

Volunteering: solidarity, empathy, multicultural

Young people: future, opportunities, growth

Bulgarians: roulette

Kiselo mlyako: yogurt haha

Thank you for having you here Bea. From all of us at CVS we wish you good luck and much more colorful volunteering ahead. 🙂

Hitchhike with a happy ending
“Winter kids fest” with fun activities and presents for the kids from the three refugee camps
Human Library “Make food not war”
“DOBROFEST” (11.12.2019)

The project “Volunteering Circles” (2018-2-BG01-KA125-048262) is Co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and Human Resource Development Center (HRDC).

 Posted by Monika at 14:18 EVS news, Volunteer activities Comments Off on Beatriz Cintas Cantarero – to express your voice boldly