Story of "URBAN BEAT" (group EVS project)

Group EVS project "URBAN BEAT" in Slovenia
1 month project (1.8.2018 - 5.9.2018)

Our experience in Slovenia was very enlightening. Volunteering is something that drove us out of comfort zone and also helped us connect with countries from all of Europe. Our trip started in Brestanica were we got used to the Slovenian way of life, but also we prepared for the project. In the first week we met the project coordinators and mentors were they gave us the first schedule. They explained our responsibilities and obligations while they presented us some optional workshops such as street work, creation of an escape room, creation of a skate park and lastly graffiti session. In our free time we visited places nearby such as the castle of Brestanica and the river “Sava”. Everyone got closer in our group from all the time we spent together and we started to feel more comfortable in each others presence.

At the start of the second week we began preparing the forest were the festival took in Krsko, We painted the benches, the tables and we sewed the pillows to sit on the benches. The optional workshop of street work began and we visited nearby places were young people hang out. The work in the forest progressed as we gathered ideas about the decoration of the forest. Also, second week was the commencing week of the “theater of the oppressed” activity. Our last days in Brestanica passed smoothly as we finally prepared to move in the Youth Hostel of the MC Krsko. The weekend that followed was very entertaining. It started with an one-day trip in “Kostanevica ni Krki”, or as the locals call it “Venice of Slovenia”. We visited the caves that were located there, the local contemporary museum and we finished our trip with a lovely swim in the river.

The third week was more intense due to the many activities and workshops that took place. At the beginning of the week we were informed about the schedule of the festival and the dates of the intercultural nights and, of course, we were given the weekly schedule. Also the optional workshop of “Escape Room” begun where we were asked to create an outdoors escape room for the first week of the festival. As the work in the forest and the pillow making progressed we gathered in the middle of the week to gather ideas for the children activities that were going to take place on the second day of the festival. In the middle of the week we were lucky to have a short tour of the Krsko town by one of our mentors, where we learnt about the history of the town etc. In addition, the activity of “The Debate” kicked off where we were called to learn the methods of having an official debate.

The weekend was great as many members of the group traveled in many destinations such as Zagreb, Ljubljana etc. The fourth week kicked off with us being informed of our weekly schedule as usual. The preparations of the forest and the pillow making were nearly coming to an end. The first intercultural night took place in the middle of the week, the countries that were represented were: Italy, Spain and Finland. The representatives prepared a lot of traditional snacks and finger food and, of course, a great presentation of their country. Rest of the week was great as we finished the decorations in the forest and we started to see the results of our work. The weekend was also great as a lot of members of the group traveled again and Saturday night, a great karaoke night was hosted at the hall of the MC. The last week of the project was very hard for all of the group due to two reasons: firstly the days of the festival were close so we all were a little bit more stresses due to the high load of work and secondly, we knew that the project was coming to an end and we were to go home really soon. The first days of the week we finished the escape room workshop that kicked off the first day of the festival. As Friday came closer the preparations for the festival came to an end, the food stands were completed and we finally saw the results of our hard work. Friday was the first day of the festival that took place in the small forest “Sumica”. The festival schedule was consisted out of concerts, stand up comedy shows and traditional food try outs from every country. We enjoyed it as much as we could because we were working till the end of the day, moving equipment, chairs, decoration stuff, etc. Saturday, which was the last day of the festival, took place in the interior hall of the MC. Saturday's festival schedule was consisted of four band performances that blew our minds off. We enjoyed the whole night as we knew that it was one of the last nights we were spending together. Sunday morning we helped at cleaning the whole place and we finally relaxed. The next day some of the group went to Marribor for a day trip and we spent the night together as usual. At Monday we did a surprise party for a group member that had his birthday and we did a mini-karaoke night with everyone that worked at the MC. We had fun, we laught, we enjoyed ourselves as the final day was near. The last day was very difficult for us because we knew we were going to leave and everyone would take off to his home-country. Tears and sadness arose the more we realised that we would separate. Wednesday morning we left for the airport and we flew to Athens and everyone left for his town/city/home.

The experience was one of the most intense experiences we ever had and we strongly suggest this experience for anyone that loves volunteering, traveling and meeting new people and cultures. We hope we can relive the whole project as it has a unique place in our hearts.

Written by volunteers:
Giannis Anastasopoulos
Sia Theodorou
Maria Tsaramirsi
Stratos Bakalidis