It all began with a dream… I spent few years dreaming and wondering how I could make my life more meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying. During my studies I was dreaming of having a place in the nature, among the trees and a garden with clean water and air, adopting healthy habits, instead of being in melancholy and chaos of the capital city. A place where people of different culture, language, skin color and background would live together, create together, share, exchange and grow together. Back then, it was a nice dream from the point of view through a student’s dormitory window. When suddenly, things started moving into such direction.

With my beloved, we decided to step into this dream, no matter how crazy it seemed to others. We went to a village where he had a house (in which we fell in love) and we began slowly to revive it. We called this initiative Natural Perspective. The name includes everything we would like there to happen. Then we started an experimental garden, which was surprisingly very successful and we were motivated to continue humbly, but yet, dreaming big. We had few friends with whom we were sharing this dream from time to time. But still, we understood that there are steps to be taken and knowledge to be gained not only for the dream come true, but also to sustain.

At that time our idea and initiative were recognized by the organization Nadez-Hope and we were having their official support. Then we started to travel and take part into many youth exchanges and training courses through the Erasmus + program. Meeting hundreds of like-minded people every year, we understood that we aren’t the only crazy ones.

In one point of this craziness, we met with the Greenies (aka Green Association). I was introduced to their project named Green Summit and was immediately inspired and encouraged to host it into our house in the village. After hosting the Green Summit in the first year and receiving huge help from the EVS volunteers, we continued to be hosts also for the next two years. Then, the coordinator of this project Aleko Karlovski, came with the idea of involving us deeper in the project and the work of the organization, so he proposed to us to be EVS volunteers for one year in Green Association, with Nadez-Hope as our sending organization. In the beginning we were hesitating, because this meant to pause our own project Natural Perspective.

After all, we realized that we made a very good decision, since we have learned much more visiting all the places of the Green Summit, participating in many different activities and meeting with all the other hosts and volunteers. We were doing gardening, building with natural materials, planning events. We also supported two major festivals Wake up and Beglika, where the most of the time I was helping in the kitchen, cooking with others for two hundred volunteers and participants. I was also making myself busy with some arts, working as well on the promotion of Green Association. At Beglika festival I held my own workshop about macramé jewelry and did the planning and schedule for the so called Green scene, where the other volunteers also presented their works, personal projects and discussions about sustainability, ecology, zero waste and many more topics of interest. After the summer months, I started with some office work for the organization, therefore I learned a lot on how an organization functions.

I’m not going to count all the activities that I was involved in, because there were many. Time is priceless, so I’d like to keep it short. In these nine months of volunteering so far, I had a period of learning, practicing, trying new things, improving and growing. I became more confident and reassured about my goals. I found out ways how to materialize my ideas, how to face challenges, and how to communicate with people. I can say that this EVS experience gave me a lot in order to grow as a person, but also to understand my weaknesses and strong sides. Since I’m passionate for languages, my biggest benefit was that I had the chance to listen other languages on every day basis and to improve my level of Spanish. I am grateful for this lifetime opportunity, for the welcoming of Green Association, for all the challenges, adventures, tasks, sometimes exhausting travels and activities… It was all worth it!

Now, the time to wake up from the dream is coming, and it will be the time of putting in practice all that I’ve learned so far. I would like to dedicate my time on improving the social and cultural life in the society where I’m going back in. I would also like to implement projects for raising the awareness of ecologic issues and the zero-waste culture. Another thing I consider important is sharing the story of my EVS experience with the youth and letting them know about the opportunities of the European Solidarity Corps.

Last, but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who were involved in this journey, for sharing their time, energy, ideas and kindness with me.

Simona N.