Oct 192020

We are happy to share that CVS – Bulgaria is part of the project “HOWs” under the framework of K2: Erasmus+ programme, carried out in partnership with organizations from 3 different countries – Baltic Regional Fund (Latvia), VSI “Inovatyvi karta” (Lithuania), Tudatos Ifjusagert Alapitvany (Hungary). The project was launched on 1.09.2020 and has a total duration of 19 months.

Driven by the ambition and desire to help young people acquire knowledge and practical skills on how to turn their ideas into completed successful projects and to increase their active citizenship and civic participation, together with our partners we have been preparing a diverse and rich programme with various and innovative initiatives, which will also include the creation of an interactive mobile platform with an educational and practical purpose as well a manual giving guidance to the most common problems and difficulties being faced during the process of seeing a problem-thinking of an idea-and coming with a solution.

The project is intended to directly involve more than 370 people and many more indirectly, including representatives of various non-governmental organizations/volunteers, etc.

Expect shortly more details about all the possibilities around the project and how to become part of it.

 Posted by Monika at 11:23 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Project “HOWs”

She is humble, hard-working and adds a creative touch in everything that she does.
Coming from the picturesque countryside place Bolshaya Sosnova, she moves to
Perm where she accomplishes her Master degree in Youth policy: leadership and

In today’s interview we are introducing you the 24-years-old Dasha from Russia
who is one of our six volunteers in the project “Volunteering circles”

Privet, Dasha! Thanks for having you here. Our first question to you is – Is this your first volunteering abroad?

Yes! Even more – it’s almost my first big trip abroad (smiling) Before, when I was 10 years old I was in a Ukrainian summer camp with my brother and last year I visited Turkey for 5 days. That’s all my experience.

How did you decide to come here in Sofia for one year? What was your motivation?

Actually, exactly after this trip to Turkey,  I decided to go somewhere. It was New Year’s time, maybe that’s why the feeling of necessary changes came.  So, when I came back to Perm, I took a decision to quit my job and started  researching opportunities to go. I was finishing my Master degree at the same time, and I realized that nothing keeps me there (except my family, of course, but they usually support me and this idea wasn’t an exception).

How do you find your work at CVS, can you tell us more about the activities you are involved in?

I found our work in CVS challenging and interesting, because we have different activities, where you have to use varied skills and knowledge. I really like such kind of work, because it helps you grow and be more flexible. For now, I’m mostly involved in SIFF (Sofia International Film Festival) organization, but before I participated in teaching kids in refugee camps, organizing events for them and the local community, worked with participants for training.

Was there anything really challenging for you during these 8 months since your coming here?

Not really. Maybe just difference between people’s way of thinking at the beginning of the project.

If you compare yourself before your project and now in the last part of it, do you think that you have changed and in what way?

Yes, for sure! At least, I improved my English level, became more confident, discovered a lot of new facts about different cultures and broke some stereotypes. I think that I started to be more open-minded. According some professional skills, now I can put Bulgarian language with a basic level in my resume (laughing), work in multitasking mode (because sometimes we worked in few different fields at the same time, by the way it was wonderful), scheduling and time management. But at the same time, I understood that sometimes I’m very sensitive and pay attention to tine details that usually better to miss. So, I prefer not to be such kind of person, or at least to learn how to hide it. Now I’m working on it.

Would you recommend EVS (ESC) to someone who had never done it before and according to you what are the greatest benefits of the program?

Actually, I have already recommended EVS (ESC) in my university and also I was invited for interview with one school in Perm where I promoted it. The greatest benefit is experience. Experience of being here, working in multinational team, traveling, learning. Everything, because it changes you a lot! (I guess, I’m very bad at standing out benefits (laughing))

If you can pick up 3 words that describe your EVS experience so far they will be…

Just do it!

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

Oh, it’s a very difficult question for me. I would try to stay in EU and find a job,  but because as Russian citizen I don’t have such flexible mobility as European volunteers, for example. So, let’s see and fingers crossed.

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

Be independent and use every moment that you have. I lost a lot of time, because I was shy with my English level and thought that people could have fun at me, but it’s nonsense. If you can express your thoughts somehow, run and communicate!

Thank you Dasha. We wish you the very best for all the new ventures, that life has in store for you!

with friends on a trip to Kazanluck
in front of the Buzludzha Memorial House
with friends on the way to Balkan Station Fest
On the left and right – during a short trip on the occasion of our coordinator Kat and my birthday, in the middle – with Gyuzel, supporting the youth soccer team of Russia

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 11:00 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Dasha Chernyshova – turning wishes to actions

She is 23 years old and comes from sunny Barcelona. A graduate in Psychology, with a sharp eye for the little details, passion for photography and never ceasing enthusiasm and curiosity to try new things (or to ask you another question).

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

Hello Sara, will you tell us – is this your first volunteering project abroad?

Yes, it is. In Barcelona I was participating as an activist in the Amnesty International group of my university, but this is the first time I am doing a volunteering in a foreign country. Also I had lived abroad before because I did Erasmus during my third year of university. I was living in the Netherlands for 6 months and, actually, it was there where I found out about EVS. I was with some friends on a tour, we met a group of people who turned out to be EVS volunteers in Poland.

Nice and was it difficult to find a project to volunteer?

At the beginning I started looking for a project by myself. I would enter the European Solidarity Corps website and spend hours looking for projects. I remember that I was super picky, so I was like “not this one, not this one”. When I finally contacted an organization through the ESC platform, they didn’t even reply, so I started to look for more information and I saw that you actually need a sending organization from the beginning who helps you to find a project and everything is easier. Then I found out about Service Civil International Catalunya on Facebook and I saw they had some projects so I decided to contact them. A week later I had an interview, more like a meeting to see what I didn’t know, and what type of volunteer opportunities exited (there is more than ESC). In that same interview they mentioned that there was this project in Bulgaria. It looked really interesting and I had been in the Sofia before so we tried to see if I could still apply for it. My hopes weren’t high because the deadline had passed, but few days later they told me that I could send my CV and motivation letter. After a while my coordinator contacted me and we had the interview. Everything was in the last minute, so I felt very lucky and happy.

Did you have any hesitations whether to join this project or to find another one?

Actually no, because as I told you I applied for this one and I got in so I didn’t have any other project or plan in mind. I have to say that I really liked the project because it is very diverse in a sense – you have cinema, you have working with refugees, you have promotion of volunteering… and lots of activities that are in between. I was also looking for a specific approach, something that it looked like I could participate from the inside, because there are some volunteering projects that are only about being in the front line but in which you don’t take decisions at all. I wanted to be part of the decision making because I would like to work in the field of NGOs, social justice and human rights. I wanted to perceive first hands how it is to work in an organization like this, before continuing my studies.

Do you enjoy the activities you are involved in?

Yeah, I do. Of course there are always exceptions as there are a lot of different tasks, but usually you get more involved with the ones that you are more interested. I came thinking that I was more interested in the refugees’ circle, but then when they explained more each of them I felt that I was also interested in the circle about promoting volunteering.

Something that helped in that sense was that, in the beginning of the project we made a task division list and we put our names on the tasks we wanted to take part in. The tasks I’ve been more involved in have been promotion, content creation, communication, organization of events and management. Of course all of these related to the social field. It is really different the communication for company that sells yogurt, for example, than the communication for an NGO.

You are also very good in photography. I saw you at a lot of events doing the shots.

Thank you! Yes, I really like photography and I have a reflex camera which is really similar to the one of our office. So since I knew how it worked, most of the times I ended up being the photographer of the events. I really enjoy it, so I rarely get tired of taking photos. I also started to get curious about video making, so I’ve started to develop this skill a bit.

And how do you find the life in Sofia, was it difficult to adapt here in the beginning?

Not really… Bianca (fellow volunteer) and I arrived in the middle of July. It was very warm and we didn’t know so many people. A lot of people in general in the city they were in vacation, so it was pretty empty. In that aspect in the beginning I was like “uff”. Later when the other volunteers arrived it got better as you meet more people, you start traveling more and visiting other cities. We went to Varna, and we met some volunteers from other organizations across the country. As for the city, I had visited Sofia before in a trip and I really liked it. I don’t know exactly why, it’s different and that makes it interesting.

Was there anything challenging for you in your work, in your life?

In the middle of the project I had some family issues, I couldn’t go back to my family, it didn’t make sense just to buy a ticket, it was from one day to another, so I stayed here. It was hard, because when you are abroad sometimes it feels like you are in a parallel world, you think that back home the time doesn’t pass, but the thing is that yeah, it does and when you realize that it is a bit weird. On a personal level it was a hard moment, but I went to visit them a few weeks later so it was okay.

Do you feel that you had changed during these months?

Totally, yeah. I guess you don’t notice it so much in yourself but when I was back home some people told me that there was something different. I guess that is something that always happens when you travel or you get out of the comfort zone. You develop somehow, of course you change. I guess maybe you gain maturity and tools to work professionally. Also when you meet people from all over the world and with different backgrounds it always happens that you expand your mind more and you discover new ways to approach different subjects. I think it makes you more open in general.

What are your favourite activities during your free time?

I like trying a lot of things, I remember I tried yoga a couple times but I didn’t succeed (laughing). Then I also I tried ceramics, because I had never tried it in my life so I was really curious. I found a place that is really close to my house, it is a studio run by a woman. She taught me how to use the wheel and everything. It is really cool to experiment ceramics with your own hands. I hope I will able to go at least once again.

Have you tried something typically Bulgarian?

The food for sure: shopska salad, parlenka, sirene, liutenitza, tarator… What else… On the arrival training we had to dance the horo, but I don’t know if it counts because I didn’t dance so well, but at least I tried. We traveled a lot around Bulgaria and I guess that when you talk with local people and you spend time with them you also experience the culture. We also took classes of Bulgarian at Edno school. They taught us the language, but they also explained us some cultural things as the kukeri, the symbols for protection and Baba Marta.

What was the most interesting thing you got to know about Bulgaria?

Maybe the people. The few bulgarians that I met are pretty cool. I don’t know how to describe it exactly. In general the young people that I met have a nice sense of humour, they are friendly and easy-going, I don’t know, I like them.

What are your favourite places in Sofia?

Let me see, there is a vegetarian restaurant that we discovered that I love, Dream house. I have only been there a couple times but I like how cozy it is. And the parks, I have lots of good memories in Borisova gradina, laying on the grass with my friends. I’m sure there are more… probably a place with food or beer (laughs).

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

For what I have experienced and also heard from other organisations – I would say apply, do it, but first get well informed about the organization. Try to contact previous volunteers from the project. Each organization has its own way of managing itself and handling situations. Apart from the experience and the work you should have clear what are the things that they are providing, because I know that some volunteers had bad experiences with the accommodation for example. So in order to avoid it, try to become informed beforehand. But apart from that – do it, do it (smiling).

With Dasha and Gyuzel (also volunteers in the project)
going to watch “Lion King” with Biance (another volunteer in the project)
Halloween party at OPEN SPACE
on a trip to Macedonia with volunteers
with the participants in the Human library in Plovdiv
during the promotion of “DOBROFEST”

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 11:25 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Sara Coll Lopez – to embrace with trust the unknown horizon

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

She is natural, forthright, warm and colorful, coming from the historical lands of Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal with a background of Anthropology and on-going master course in African studies. Bianca decides to take a gap year from her studies to chill a bit the pace of her life and to do something meaningful. She is just 22, but you can hardly guess so, as she already has firm political views and is an active member of a party, standing behind the defense of human rights.

In today’s interview we are introducing you Bianca, her inspirations and volunteering experience so far in Sofia.

Hello Bianca, will you tell us first was it difficult to choose this project, did you have any other options in mind?

Yes. Of course, when I was looking I saw other projects, but when I saw refugees I was like – “there is something calling me and I need to answer this”. I remember that I applied after time because the deadline had already passed and I was – “okay, maybe I will still try, I don’t have nothing to lose”.  It was funny because Kat said: “Okay, but do it today, we don’t have time” and here I am. (laugh)

Nice! So, you were interested in working with refugees?

Yes, yes, maybe because I knew that in Bulgaria the refugees that we have are from other countries not so much from Africa but still I was doing my Master and I was really reading a lot about it, about the refugees’ situation. And I wanted to do something about this, I wanted to make a change for them. Of course, a small change because I am not capable of doing much now, but yes, when I saw the project with refugees I was – “okay, I am going to try”.

Was it easy for you to accommodate to the work and the life in Sofia, was this your first time coming here?

Yes, it was my first time coming to the Balkans. (laugh) Yes, of course I had some kind of shocks, cultural shocks, not big ones, but still small things that you are always “Oh my God….” In the beginning I didn’t know how to approach so much people in the streets, if it is the same. I mean, Portuguese are kind of people that are more, I don’t know, like super nice, we talk a lot with others we don’t know so much and here in Bulgaria I saw some differences, maybe in Sofia, because outside in other villages in Bulgaria I saw people more receptive, let’s say. So yes, in the beginning it was a bit complicated but I had our, my friends, my peers and I think it was pretty much okay. We were helping each other – “Don’t do this, do this”. (laugh)

Did you have chance to make friends apart from the CVS team?

Yes, I made a lot of friends, but not so many out of the volunteer atmosphere.

What is the most inspiring thing for you in the work you are doing?

To be honest – going to the camps. I really appreciate going even with the language barriers. I am really grateful to have the opportunity to talk with them to make their days at least a little bit better, I am hoping so. And I don’t know – just communicating, trying to give them a bit of myself and receive as well. So, more in that sense, but of course the other type of work –  I know it is also needed and I really have good time preparing our events and being  there. It is nice when the event we are talking about for so many days becomes real. It’s super nice.

You are also passionate to launch a youth magazine during your project here giving voice to the young people to share themselves and their position. And you are just 22, you had decided to come to a completely different country with a new language to help other people that you don’t know. You certainly have a great motivation behind all of this, would you share a bit more about it with us?

Okay, so I will try to do my best. (laugh) Yes, I don’t know, maybe more or less from the time I entered university I started to become more politically conscious about the world, in general human rights. So I got involved in some collectives for discussions and I did even small volunteering. Of course small, I can not say so big like CVS or EVS. But small events about Palestine and the situation there, to talk to people from there, because one thing is to read from magazines, another is to understand it from the people that live in that context. I was really passionate to do something for the others. I don’t know, that’s everything I can say (smiling)

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

Yes, after this project I was planning to (it is not a big plan) but I was thinking to finish my master because it’s something that I really want to do. I am writing my dissertation and right now I am more inspired. I have my time just to be a good person, to chill a bit. I want to do volunteering as well but I will need to divide my time with the writing of the dissertation and maybe working and volunteering. I also want to apply for other projects, maybe less formal volunteering – just going and helping with whatever I can. I really like, for example to work with communities in the way I gather fund raising and organizing events bringing people to discussion. I think that is more my field, let’s say.

That’s wonderful! And would you tell someone who has never been a volunteer before.? What are the benefits of being a volunteer according to you?

I think the benefits are a lot and sometimes we don’t have the time to think about the benefits when we are there, because there are so much things going on and it’s stressful sometimes to be in these kind of areas and to try to make a change in the world, because it’s not easy, but I think in the end it’s amazing. We met a lot of people from different realities, backgrounds, cultures. It’s amazing the sharing of ideas and other things like plans, dreams, ambitions, it’s really amazing. If a person is thinking should I become a volunteer, I think yes, they should for sure and they should overcome the fear of going out of their comfort zone because it’s amazing – yeah and in the end we will be missing it so much.

Was there anything really challenging for you during these 8 months since your coming here?

Maybe the colds. That was something extra for me (laugh) I never saw so snow before so. It was super funny the first day of the snow we were like kids “Oh my God that’s snow”. But after some days we were more I don’t have clothes prepared for these colds. (laugh) Of course, sometimes we need to become more  flexible, I talk for myself of course.  I think sometimes  we have different kind of expectations  and ways of communicating that cannot be the proper ways to talk in a group  and when we don’t see the things that we expect we can become a bit sad, maybe a bit more stressed, not so happy  but I think the communication is always the answer. If we communicate, if we try to be understanding – I think that’s the answer for everything.

This is a nice message. Are there any other tips you would like to share to the future volunteers?

,I’d tell them not to be sad if they see sometimes that the things they imagine don’t happen but on the other hand for them to try to make some things happen, things that can see – this I can do, this I can talk with my mates in the organization and I can make it happen even if it takes me two, three or four months to happening. Communication is always the answer to tell your superior others how do you feel, how do you like to do these things . And to take initiative is always a good idea because if we sit and wait for someone to bring us the things that we want that might never happen.

Thank you Bianca for your time and sharings. It’s been a pleasure. We wish you many more inspirations and fulfillment.

Enjoying Rila’s lakes
At the party of Open Space Foundation, gathering all the volunteers in Sofia
Under the Sun of Istanbul, a spontaneous hitch-hike trip with my mate Bea
Discovering Bulgaria 🙂

Проект “Доброволчески кръгове” (2018-2-BG01-KA125-048262) е финансиран по програма Еразъм + на ЕС и Център за развитие на човешките ресурси

 Posted by Monika at 16:26 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Bianca de Almeida – to act from your heart

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