Monthly Archive October 2023

BySorin Berbecar

Crafting Generations – a volunteering story

The opportunity to participate in a long-term volunteering project was extraordinary news last November, 2022. The title of the project being “Crafting Generations”, it awakened in me the desire to polish the skills already present in the “File of my life” and the burning desire to acquire new ones. These being considered, I started the biggest adventure I ever dreamed of , which would be unforgettable and especially one that would change my life from all points of view. So, I invite you to sit comfortably, fill your cup with coffee or tea or your favourite drink and enjoy the story of my transformation from a man who didn´t know what to do with his life to a completely new human being.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

     All my life I’ve been looking for a way to escape from the boring everyday routine that most people choose because it’s simple and comfortable. Finding myself at an impasse of ideas, after years of searching and trying to find a meaning in my existence in this world, I exploded with happiness, being in tears of joy, when I was accepted for a long-term volunteering project in a place that I felt in love with from the first day, Greenville.

What is Greenville and where is located?

     Greenville is a wonderful place on this planet Earth, located in Vrhovcak, a small village close to Samobor, Croatia. Beautiful things are happening there in a way of eco-educational purposes and reconnection with the nature for youngsters, grownups and elderly people, projects as  Erasmus+ Youth Exchange as well as European Solidarity Corps programs, different workshops and activities related to sustainability and farming, one-day school trips for primary school children designed to bring them in contact with the natural environment throughout a series of fun activities to enrich their knowledge about flora and fauna that Mother Nature has in the bag for us and so on and so forth. You can think of Greenville that is a tiny piece of heaven that provides one of the most welcoming and warmth atmospheres with the bonus of an imaginary postcard which contains your new learnings and achievements that you gain for being part of the stories that happened there.

Who’s in charge of Greenville?

     As we well know, every place has someone who takes care of it. Well, here we are not talking about a single person but a team, a small team made up of a few people who wear a smile full of energy every day, ready for action, who have a long experience in organizing and facilitating programs for young people and not only, people very capable of providing any kind of support and solving any situation in a professional way. This team fully deserves its chosen name, “Pozitiva Samobor”.

What is my purpose in the project and how did I get here?

     The event was not a simple coincidence that I arrived for the 4th time in Greenville. Given this fact, the team already knew who they were working with and what I was capable of. This time, however, it was a long-term project with a lot of trials and challenges to go through. My role in this project is divided into two large branches, the first and the one that is physically demanding contains the renovation and repairing the Grenville house, the design and construction of new facilities in the courtyard and beyond, and the second branch is composed of writing an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange project and its facilitation. I can say that I am very familiar with the first branch, and I have been a builder all my life, starting from making boats that I used to play with in the puddles on the street to tools and small structures, but with the second branch I was not at all familiar and I can say that this was actually the biggest challenge in this project.

Now that we have the basic facts about where I landed, the team I work with, and the tasks I must complete, I’ll move on to the skills I’ve acquired and other amazing things that happened to me during my volunteer service.

     Of course, no matter how much you build sometimes out of necessity, sometimes because of a hobby, you still discover something new and that’s why I was sure it would happen in this “Crafting Generations” adventure. I will list a few skills such as painting walls, installing plasterboards on walls, designing and building wooden chandeliers, building a wooden platform, building a concrete foundation for a fence, designing and building a rabbit hutch, and these are just some of the new things learned that for me they were easy to understand and acquire.

     The biggest achievement, and that’s because I’ve never faced anything like this and it took me far out of my comfort zone, was writing and facilitating my Erasmus+ YE project called “Green Defenders”. It was a long period in which I worked my mental abilities a lot and in which I did a lot of research not only to write it but also for the information I needed to refresh myself for the workshops and activities that were going to compose the project timetable. The project was a real success for me and the team, with very good reviews and young people who went home with tears in their eyes and grateful for the educational program and for the opportunity to improve their knowledge regarding connection with nature, understanding the natural environment, gaining knowledge about the 5Rs of zero waste living and many other curiosities that the participants embraced with open arms.

     I want to put on the page other interesting things that materialized through circumstances outside of working hours. My personal life had a gradual improvement starting from the first week I arrived in Vrhovcak. I was included more and more in various activities such as going to the gym with the team, which became a common weekly activity, going on hikes on different routes in different areas around Samobor and not only that, I had the opportunity to visit different cities for a day and I had the pleasure of discovering them in a relaxing way, I had the basic tutorial of how to sail a small sailboat, and many other fun things. I can really say that I travelled and had a lot of fun in Croatia more than I had in my native country and all this thanks to Pozitiva team and their spirit of inclusion, understanding and support in my journey.

Why and how would I recommend the volunteering program?

     First of all, it is necessary to understand that this program is an opportunity for any of us to learn new things, to develop our already acquired knowledge or to work in the professional fields while helping the organizations that open their doors for volunteers. There are also other opportunities such as free time trips to explore the surroundings and more, the opportunity to integrate into a new community and to learn new traditions and habits in a way of intercultural diversity, the opportunity to learn a new language, and so on.

     What we must always keep in mind when applying for a volunteer project, is that we don’t go there to walk around and that’s all. The program consists of a fair exchange between both parties, more precisely the hosting organization offers everything necessary, accommodation, meals and pocket money in exchange for the help that the volunteer undertakes to offer.

     Another thing you should be interested in before applying for volunteer projects, and here I speak from the experience of colleagues from other projects, is to research the background of the organizations that offer programs of this kind, and even more than that. I have met volunteers who were disappointed by how other organizations proceed during projects, workshops and activities, they do not respect their basic duties towards volunteers, points that end up being critical for the health and well-being of volunteers.

     On another note, I am one of the volunteers who enjoyed their experience to the maximum. Going back in time and thinking about how I started and how I finished the project, I can say that I am a different person from many points of view and what is most important is that after all this I acquired a lot of things that I was just dreaming. More than that, I could say that the big prize I won is a place in the “Positiva Samobor” team, something that gave me wings and made me believe even more in my dreams and powers.

Pretty cool, right? I thought so…

     At the end of this story, I would like to thank all those who trusted me, those who supported me even in stormy and rainy days, those who taught me to love in many other different ways, I am grateful for all the help I received, I am grateful to those who made me feel at home and last but not least, for the fact that I have always been considered a member of the team, of the “POZITIVA SAMOBOR” family!

     Thank you from the bottom of my heart, wonderful people from Pozitiva team! I know I don’t have enough words to thank you for everything you have given to me, but I have a big green heart that beats for you!

Andrei a fost voluntar internațional prin Corpul European de Solidaritate în Croația pentru 8 luni. Și tu poți fi voluntar ca el pentru orice perioadă între 2 și 12 luni oriunde în Europa. Dacă vrei să afli mai multe scrie-ne la e gratis, e fun și va fi de neuitat, promitem.

BySorin Berbecar

Mentor – first steps

As you can see on our page dedicated to this project, we are planning great results and working towards them, in order to provide a suitable support system for organizations, mentors and mentees involved.

Therefore, since April when we started and until now, not only we planned our steps but we made a whole study gathering precious information that will help us shape the rest of our work. Then we analysed the results and we planned the next step, a guide for youth professionals, for those people that are managing and supporting the mentor – mentee duo.

Keep close, we will publish more results (the study, the guide) in the following period and we promise they will be nice and useful.

Mentor – a strategic partnership in the field of youth co-financed by the European Union through the Erasmus+ Programme.

ByMaria Ballester

În vizită la Neta, ciobănița

Astăzi ne aflăm la Teișani și vom vizita un membru important al comunității, Neta, ciobănița. Începem călătoria un pic mai devreme, trebuie să mergem pe jos aproximativ 30 de minute pe deal pentru a găsi locul unde locuiește Neta. Priveliștile din jur sunt minunate.

Today we are in Teișani, we are visiting an important member of the community, Neta, the shepherdess. We begin our journey kind of early, we need to walk around 30 minutes in the mountain to find Neta’s place. The surrounding views are wonderful.

Echipa Community Kitchen încearcă să învețe mai multe despre produsele și rețetele tradiționale din zonă, iar astăzi vom afla mai multe despre arta de a face brânză.

The Community Kitchen team is trying to learn more about the traditional products and recipes from the area, and today we will learn more about the art of making cheese from scratch.

O cunoaștem pe Neta, ea a făcut brânză toată viața ei, tatăl și bunicul ei au făcut și ei această muncă, așa că a învățat încă de când era mică, așa că putem înțelege toată experiența pe care o are.

We meet Neta, she has been making cheese all her life, her father and grandfather also did this job, so she has been learning since she was a child, so we can understand all the expertise she has.

În fiecare zi are grijă de animalele ei și le mulge dis-de-dimineață, pentru că așa începe orice brânză bună, cu lapte proaspăt și bun, în acest caz de la capre și oi. Apoi fierbe laptele cu cheag, care este o substanță folosită pentru a separa particulele solide din lapte de apă și a forma o masă solidă. Totul este natural și provine de la propriile sale animale, folosind această substanță din stomacul propriilor porci. Când partea solidă a laptelui s-a separat de lapte, adaugă sare și îi dă formă, iar acesta este gata.

Every day, she takes care of her animals and milks them early in the morning, because this is how every good cheese starts, with good fresh milk, in this case goat and sheep milk. After that, she boils the milk with rennet, which is a substance used to break down the solid particles in milk away from the water content in order to form a solid mass. Everything is natural and from her own animals, using this substance from the stomach of her own pigs. When the solid part of the milk has separated from the milk, she adds salt and shapes it, and it’s ready.

Am putut gusta din brânza proaspăt făcută în acea dimineață și a fost delicioasă. Odată ce brânza este gata, Neta o conservă în sare cu apă și, în funcție de cât timp stă în acel lichid, brânza va avea o textură și o salinitate diferite.

We could taste some of the cheese that was freshly made that morning, and it was delicious. After the cheese is ready, Neta preserves them in salt with water, and depending on how long the cheese stays in that liquid the cheese will have different texture and saltiness.

Am învățat atât de multe despre brânză, dar și despre stilul de viață al Netei, care face totul de la zero, folosind produsele pe care le are prin preajmă și pe care le-a cultivat singură, trăind liniștită în natură. Mulțumim, Neta!

We learned so much about cheese but also about Neta’s lifestyle, who makes everything from scratch, using the products she has around and has grown by herself while living peacefully in the nature. Thank you, Neta!