My first day in Zagreb was sunny and bright. I arrived at the house and met the other volunteers who I’d be living with; two from Latvia, Roberts and Signe; two from Lithuania, Justina and Birute; two from Macedonia, Bojanna and Sandra; three from Italy Kiara, Daniele, and Elena; and sadly, there was only one representative form Estonia, me.
Our first day in the office we got to know our EVS helpers, Tony and Matea, and the program organizer Dita. Tony found himself in Croatia on an EVS program nearly two years ago, he loved Zagreb and SYNCRO so much that he has decided to stay, and has been living in Croatia ever since. Matea is a local Croatian, and between her schooling and her two jobs she was always hard at work, but still managed to give us Croatian lessons. Last of all there’s Dita, the program organizer, who is also Latvian. She was always calm no matter how busy things got, and was always there to help with whatever anyone needed.
Our first day was in the office, where we went over what we would be doing in the coming weeks. We would be spending most of our time in Maksimir park, we would also be doing program promotion at the student centre, and finally at the end of the month we would have to organize an event of some sort.
We spent most of our days in Maksimir park, one of the Largest parks located in a European capital city. Our time was spent helping the parks department with statistics by counting the different types of people entering the park; families; dog walkers; bicyclists; and runners. We also helped the park biologists by keeping track of of ducks and turtles in the park, this is important because they currently have a problem with invasive species in the park. Lastly, we helped with landscaping in the park by freeing the gardens of weeds and planting flowers.
During our time in the student center we helped promote Syncro, and other programs through EVS. It was great to share knowledge of EVS programs with students. Many of the students didn’t even realize these kinds of programs were available to them. I hope in the future many of the people I spoke to will take advantage of the many opportunities offered to them through EVS.
Finally, there was the end of the month event. It took a lot of discussing, planning, compromising, and even some arguing, but in the end the event came together quite nicely. We had decided to do treasure hunt at the end of the month in Maksimir park. We set up a series of clues hidden through the park, and participants had to go from clue to clue through the park. When the treasure hunt was over, we had a picnic together with the participants to celebrate. Nearly 30 people came to our event! It was very rewarding to see all our planning and hard work come together at the end of the day.
This EVS ended up being a great experience! I got to live, work, and have plenty of fun with an awesome group of international people. I also had the chance to practice and learn new skills, and explore a beautiful part of Europe. I think these programs are a great opportunity, and I hope that more Estonians will participate in the future.
– by: Erik Rudi Jylli