Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Natalie in Serbia on EVS - 2010

Spring in Belgrade

Right from the start, people were telling me how Belgrade comes alive in April. There’s even a song about it. Well, after a long winter, I can finally see their point. The city is lush and green, flowering and blossoming and slowly coming out of its shell as the days grow longer and warmer.
Spring is the season of new beginnings, and I guess that’s been true for us Osmeh volunteers in a couple of ways. Lutza, a new E
VS volunteer from Hungary joined us in March, and brought with her fresh ideas and inspiration for the organisation. One extra volunteer meant we had to find a new flat – which was a pretty hard job considering our minimal budget and high expectations! But actually our good deeds over the last 6 months must have paid off, because we were really lucky to find a great place near the centre of town, for below budget, and only five minutes by foot from our office. I have to share a bedroom now which isn’t ideal, but the location really couldn’t be better, so I’m just thinking of it as ‘you win some you lose some!’

Life’s been very busy over the last few months. As well as the regular activities like my weekly English conversation classes, there have been several international projects and ideas for new local initiatives to develop. In May I’m hoping to start up a new additional English class, which will focus more on reading and writing skills as well as speaking. The idea is that each week the workshop will be based on that week’s news stories. I’m still working on the concept, but I think it’s really great how we’re encouraged to have our own ideas, supported to develop them, and trusted to be in charge of our own projects. Some other things that have been going on in and around the office lately, are working on a couple of project applications for local government funding. One is a creative summer school for local young teenagers, and the other is an eco-festival based on the four elements, called ‘Zeleni Prozor’ which means Green Window (as you can probably tell, we had serious problems coming up with a Serbian name for this project!). This month we also decided to set up a newsletter for Osmeh to increase the visibility of the organization, and the projects that we’ve hosted and/or participated in. I’ve written several sections for this and now I’m quite content to sit back and let Aneta start the battle with Photoshop! Unfortunately none of us have quite got the hang of it yet…

Back in February Osmeh hosted the international training course ‘Project Yourself’ in Subotica, a town in the north of Serbia. My main job before the training was to design the logo and promotional materials. During the event, I attended as support staff and helped out with the running around, problem-solving and making coffee! It was hard work, but we managed to pull it off and the event ran smoothly and everyone had a great time.

Then last month, myself and couple of other volunteers had the opportunity to visit Warsaw in Poland for a partnership event with youth organizations from the Balkans, plus Turkey and Poland. The theme was good international cooperation, and it was really productive for Osmeh because we’ll now be applying in June for an additional two international projects under the framework of Youth in Action.

So there’s no let up for the foreseeable future in terms of workload. This month I have mid-term EVS training, and then I’m going to Doboj in Bosnia for a training course, on top of the regular activities and other projects. I really want to travel while I’m here, but there’s always so much going on in Osmeh and in Belgrade, that it’s kind of hard to find the time. But still, the atmosphere at Osmeh is so good and inspiring that it’s really a pleasure to go to work at the moment. And especially so now that I can steal an extra 45 minutes in bed in the mornings!

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