Volunteer´s life

Manu Chao in Timisoara!

Another of the good things, that summer brings, are the music live… there are several music festivals and concerts almost every weekends around Romania. I went already to Electric Castle Festival in the county of Cluj the last weekend (but I’ll write about that later on, because this experience deserves a post by itself) and the last Wednesday, for example we went to Timisoara to watch Manu Chao.

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One of the things with which I enjoy the most here in Romania is that for any event whenever we get together a lot of friends from that great family which is EVS (and not only EVS, also friends that work or study here) so people from Craiova, Cluj, Oradea, Arad, Resita… from more than ten different countries met us for the Manu Chao’s concert. And it was a really great night: after one hard day due to the heavy rain that was falling during most of the day we arrived at “Muzeul Satului Banatean” and then the rain stopped and we could enjoy with  more than two hours of show in which we didn’t stop dancing.

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After the concert we went to the backstage and then Manu Chao appeared sharing food and drinks for all of us, taking pictures, signing autographs and the most important, talking with us, he was surprised to see a big group of friends together from so different countries. We explained him about EVS, about our different projects and also we were talking about a load of topics with him, I think everybody left the concert with a great satisfaction; after the great show they made on the stage, he was really kind with all of us, despite being a world-famous star, no ceases to be a completely sociable, talkative and close person.

manu chao

Ne Vedem!

P.R.

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Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer is Here

Summer is here and, as always, it has a good side and a bad side. In the good hand we can take a walk through the cherry trees that garnish the streets of Arad full of its red berries, if the weather is really hot we can go to the Neptun Lido, besides the fortress of Arad and have fun with the different swimming pools, someones with hot springs (smell of eucalyptus) another with slides and also there are several places to eat something and, why not, take a beer for only 2 lei!

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Another advantage that summer brings is the goods you can find in the open market a lot of fruits and vegetables very cheap (cheaper than the big supermarket chains where we are used to buy) and, definitely more tasty and healthy. Now is the best period to enjoy of the Romanian goods, it’s easier to eat better spending less money.

But not everything are advantages in this period for us, the schools and kindergarten shut down so we aren’t gonna work anymore with our children, after nine months we’ve taken a load of affection to them. We’ve tried to teach them and I think, in general, we’ve done a good job but, honestly, I think I’ve learnt more with them than they with me. Sometimes we forget the language is something else than connected words, the gestures, the looks, the expressions… children are able to remember you the worth of all of this. There are been 9 month full of emotions, hugs, dedicated drawings, smiles and tons of fun. We’ll remember them as, I’m sure, they’ll remind us.

Ne vedem!

P.R.

Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Gastronomy, Our Beneficiaries, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Term Training (2/2)

After a Saturday very busy we woke up on Sunday to keep our trip, in this point Antonio joined us. We headed to the Brasov train station to take the train that would take us to Predeal bu,t due to the chaos in terms of platforms and trains information, we lost our train. Luckily we only had to wait for less than one hour for taking the next train. Once in our destiny we met with our mate Rita and another 8 known EVS volunteers from Baia Mare, Fagaras, Craiova… and we only were in the train station.

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After taking a cab, finally, we came to the Eden Hotel, where we were greeted by Carmen (our favourite hotel desk clerk) and where we met in the same hall with a lot of known ones, volunteers from Arad, Baia Mare, Bucarest… After this, dinner with a lot of known faces and to know the different groups in which we were gonna be divided. As in the arrival training some volunteers brought with them guitars so we started kind of party with live music. It was only the first night, therefore it was a very quiet meeting… we should to get ready for the very intense week we had ahead. The training elapsed very fast for us, We wouldn´t have minded stay some day more enjoying the hotel (we had jacuzzi in our room), the town and overall, spending more time with our training fellows, but like all good things, the training ended.

So we (Luca, Aga and me) left which was our home for the past four days to go to the capital of our hosting country, Bucharest.

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We came to Bucharest under heavy cold (-16º) and we saw the city covered by a one-meter- cloack of snow. Anyway we decided to go out and to know the city by ourselves, so we started to tour in the downtown, we headed directly to the world’s largest civilian building with an administrative function: Palatul Parlamentului. After that we kept our visit for some hours around the city, visiting the most important and known places in the city like Piata Revolutiei in the heart of the 1989 revolution. Since the building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Ceausescu launched his latest speech. Nearby is the Roman Ateneul (1888) and hosts major concerts and the Central University Library in a neoclassical building, with marvelous art exhibitions. Anyway we didn´t have so many time and the weather was really hard so we finish our visit walking by the city and enjoying the architecture.

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The city center is a mixture of medieval, neoclassical and modernist architectural styles and buildings ‘neo-Romanian’ dating from the early twentieth century and a collection of modern buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. Most utilitarian part of the communist era architecture dominates most southern districts. Recent contemporary structures such as skyscrapers and office buildings complete the landscape of Bucharest.
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However, despite the cold weather, we ended the evening enjoying the nightlife of the city along with other EVS volunteers (from two asociations: Asociatia Culturala Ask Me and A.C.T.O.R.) … and it was really amazing, although many people had warned us that Bucharest is the most expensive city in country, you can find places really cheap and to have fun with not much money, some of this clubs are Kulturhaus and Panic! both close to Piața Universității. After two intense days our trip came to its end, but we still had time to meet us with some volunteers from Tismana whose we met in our arrival training and they came back to their respective countries after have finished their project. After that, we walked around the city for a couple of hours before to take the train that would bring us to Arad, promising ourselves back in town when the weather is more benevolent to enjoy the city in all its splendor and to meet again with our friends (whose aren´t few).
And, in this way, it finished a very intense week in which we met people from the 5 continents, we did more than one thousand kilometres and very many priceless new experiences.
Ne Vedem
P.R.
Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mid-Term Training (1/2)

The last week we were in Predeal again for the Mid-Term Training, and it was a bittersweet feeling. On one hand we can come back to the Hotel Eden and enjoy Predeal with a lot of EVS volunteers (we were 66) from the five continents (from Africa – Tunicia, Marroco-, from Asia -Nepal-. from Oceania – New Caledonia- , from America – Perú- and the rest from Europe), almost half of them were with us in the arrival training and we had met many others volunteers in these months in Romania; the sessions were, in general, better and more interesting that in the arrival training, the nights were more quite but maybe, more intense. On the other hand, we met with a lot of volunteers who will leave Romania soon and it´s difficult to meet them again in a short time; another negative side is that this training means we already spent the half of our time as EVS volunteers.

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I started this trip with Luca and Aga, we decided to squeeze the long trip to Predeal, and we made a stop in the amazing city of Sighișoara, we spent one day in this beautiful place roaming the narrow streets of the citadel, visiting The History Museum inside the Clock Tower and we even entered the house where the famous national hero Vlad Tepes was born, now reconverted in a hotel with restaurant. It looked like a good place to rest and eat something but the prices are prohibitively expensive for our pockets so we ended up into a small pension eating the most typical Romanian dish (șarmale cu mamaliga și smântână), it was my first time. After that we went to the train station, under the snow which began to fall minutes before, towards Brașov.

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In Brașov our friends were waiting for us in “Casa De Cultura a Studentilor Brașov” where they were helping to the “Incubator107 Brașov” in a multicultural event. There we met a lot of unknown volunteers (local ones, EVS from Craiova, Baia Mare…) and other ones already known, after this meeting our friends showed us the nightlife in Brașov (we already knew the city by day) so we went in a taxi to the downtown (it was my first time I was been driven under a snowfall) and we came to a wonderful place, at least for me, Beraria Ciucas. We ate and drank something to go after to another club: For SALE PUB, a typical irish bar where between beers and peanuts where we took shelter from the bitter cold that Brașov offered us that night.

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If in our first trip to Predeal we ended up spending the night in Brașov, this time we slept in Brașov just before going to Predeal. So on Sunday  came to Predeal… but that part of the story I will tell you the coming week.

It shall continue… (click here)

Ne vedem saptimana vitioare!

P.R.

Categories: Art & Culture, Discovering Romania, EVS Activities, Gastronomy, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Few notes about how the rule: “Don’t get into a car with a stranger” is not always a good rule

As volunteers we are not exactly rich people, but money is never an important point of reference in a volunteering life, finally we all like rice and onion for dinner and who need luxuries like a new pair of socks, you can always repair the old ones. Also that’s why the lack of financial resources never stops us from doing interesting things and enjoying our stay in a Romania as much as we can. Traveling is an important part of the experience, and for me traveling with small budget is a thing that I’m used to even in my not volunteering life, but right now it’s, let’s call it, more challenging. The simple answer to the difficult question of how to travel without money is: hitchhiking! And to be honest, hitchhiking is perfect when travelling for volunteers not only ´cause of the being for free part, this form of transport offers also other benefits.

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First of all the fact that some strangers are deciding to stop their cars and invite you inside, just after looking at your face and the piece of paper with the name of the city (and to be honest sometimes they are really ridiculously far away, or for example in the other country), for few seconds can really make you believe in humanity, or at least it makes you believe that there are some other people like you, just curious or bored or crazy enough to decide that potential benefit from inviting the stranger to their car can be bigger than potential risks. Even if we don’t have the looks of the psychopathic killers… who knows, right?

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The other positive part of it is the fact that hitchhiking abroad is probably the best existing possibility to practice languages. It’s not a mistake, not only one language, during our trips we had the possibility to have a conversations not only in Romanian or English but also in Spanish, Italian, French (even if our only reaction was: Je ne parle pas français) or Ukrainian, ´cause in the end, important part of this kind of trips is to find a way to communicate with yourbenefactor no matters how, even if a big part of your communication will be just smiles and gestures. And, at this point, we are getting to the biggest advantage of this kind of trips. When you finally find the car, and you discover the communication method with the car driver  then  you have really an amazing opportunity to get to know a lot about the country that you are in. The conversations about politics, interesting places in Romania or somewhere else,  or just about how live is in Romania are not a rare thing, in the end what else can you do when you are locked with the stranger in such a small area? (Rita’s answer will be: sleep). So even if the conversation are not always cheerful or easy I always have the feeling that at least they are honest and that this is one of the best way to really get to know something about reality in the country.

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I created this beautiful image of hitchhiking by skipping the few disadvantages like the fact that sometimes you are cold, or tired and the trip is completely unpredictable or even sometimes you are just not in the talking mood and still you need to keep the conversation going on. But really why to write about that if still the stories that we are telling later to the others are mostly the compilations of the best staff that happened. Finally we made it, we are in the place of our destination, we met some people, we got to know some things, sometimes we even got some food and we didn’t pay for that.

So … where are we going next people?

Aga

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Learning other languages

As every new year, the most of us do ourselves a lot of new purposes, the most common: go to the Gym, give up smoking… And we´ve also started the year keeping our main purpose that is none other than to continue our learning process. For this reason my mates António and Aga have started to teach their mother tongues (Portuguese and Polish, respectively). Then every monday and wednesday appear in our dormitory a lot of EVS volunteers of Arad.

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So, right now I talk the most of my time in English (with a pitiful accent, by the way) and I´m learning Romanian, Polish and Portuguese. With Romanian I can, more or less, understand “un pic” and to ask for basic things (after five months is the least I could do), I´m improving my level every week thanks to our weekly Romanian lessons and also everyday interacting with our neighboors, bartenders, beneficiaries and overall with the children… And I hope, in no more than a week, we´ll have the chance to watch Romanian TV.

With Portuguese language I´ve got a real problem, everybody thinks Portuguese and Spanish language are very similar; In fact, I can understand the most of written Portuguese but it´s almost impossible for me to understand them when they speak, and I´m really used to listen to in the dorm, almost everyday I witness a Portuguese conversation between Rita and António. So I´ve joined the Portuguese lessons for that reason and also because of another thing: the most of Portuguese people are able to understand Spanish language very well, so they take advantage of me and I want to fix that.

And finally, Aga is teaching us Polish. It´s a extremely difficult language for me, they have a lot of differents letter and too many different sounds for what I am used. Only the first day we were for almost two hours to understand and to know the different letters and pronunciations… It´s another world for me, nothing to do with latin languages or english, if you see something written in Polish looks like impossible but when you start learning you can see similarities in grammar with latin languages and, although I still think, it´s really complicated but I think after a few months learning I might survive if someday I get lost in Poland.

http://www.youtube.com/user/PolishPod101

Ne vedem!

Vemos mais tarde

Zobaczenia później!

PR

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Bella Ciao

We´ve lost a member of our family… Grazia Calapai finished her EVS project on November after 10 months and yesterday she came back to Italy. She was the first EVS volunteer I met in Arad, I still remember when I left my room and I could see, in the end of the corridor, to Grazia with Pitta and Nana (Marco came after) since the first moment I felt very comfortable clearing my doubts about this adventure, called EVS, which began for me. She took me to Kf for the first time, Kf is the meeting point for the most of the EVS volunteers in Arad, and I could met a lot of volunteers coming from several countries: Peru, Jordan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey…

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I also remember the first weekend, my first hitch-hick… we went to Timisoara where we were with my roommate Luca and thanks to them I met her friend Pippo and his girlfriend whose gave us place to sleep. I discovered this great city with them, the nightlife as well as we took a walk by the downtown under an awesome sun… And I could keep telling stories about her, about the time that we spend togheter and all the experiences we lived togheter in these three busy months. Budapest, chocolat cakes, the surprise when we arrived from Predeal, tiramisú, a lot of words, sensations and emotions with a common nexus: Grazia

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But anyway, althought you aren´t here in a physical way you´ll be always here with us. Now this is our house ´cause you did that possible you made we felt like in our own homes and I´m sure our ways will meet again.

Pupici! Ne vedem!

PR

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EVS TRAINING IN PREDEAL

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From 30 September to 6 October we were in Predeal for our EVS arrival training.

First I would like to write a short information about one of the famous towns in Romania. Predeal is a well known tourist destination in Romania, especially in winter, when many people come to spend the holidays. Predeal has 5 major ski runs, depending on the difficulty grade and it’s a town in Brasov County. It is the highest town and one of the most important mountain resorts in Romania.Image

During this week we had the possibility to meet a lot of volunteers (we were 85!) that are taking part in EVS project in different romanian cities. We met people that live in Bucharest, Baia Mare, Iasi and many other cities.

We were divided into 4 group, each group had 2 “coaches” and we had 4 sessions per day, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Ok, stop with the technical description!Image

It was a great experience, not only because of the funny atmosphere that normally is in the air when a lot of young people live together, it was great, as well, for the activities that we made in our groups.

We had the possibility to compare our points of view with other people, we learnt more about the EVS project and personally I knew more about myself, it was an intense stay even if it was only for one week!

One of the most interesting moments was the intercultural night in which each Country had to present himself in a funny way, it was really amusing and I really enjoyed to know more about countries that I didn’t know a lot about!

What can I say more, Predeal it’s a “legend” for all the romanian EVS volunteers, we were there and we really appreciated the town and  his beautiful landscape, volunteers, trainers, hotel staff, everything was perfect!

I hope you enjoyed this short thought about what we did,

See ya soon

La revedere!!

Luca G.

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Classy Romania

Little after the beginning of October the folks at our foundation, Pro Prietenia told us about a surprise activity scheduled for the 10th of October, with the only warning of having to go as best dressed as we could. The day arrived and so we tried to present ourselves in the most fashionable way (with a little help from the good old Arad’s 2nd hand shops of course).

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The volunteers at FILARMONICA DE STAT ARAD

The surprise activity to our amusement turned out to be the chance to watch a Mozart concert live at FILARMONICA DE STAT ARAD. Built with lush and classic architecture, the building turned out to be the perfect place to recreate the feeling such music would need.

Conducted by maestro Dorin Frandeş, the concert opened with Overture, Abduction (from Seraglio and The Magic Flute), with the power, but also the beauty of the notes played by the orchestra to open this musical evening with great joy and ecstasy.

Then it was time for the talent of Ekaterina Litvintseva to shine on the piano. The soloist alongside the orchestra played the following:

  • Concerto in E-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra
  • Concerto in A major for piano and orchestra
  • Concerto in B flat major

In the end people seemed to fully enjoy the experience. However more classical music was on the way of the EVS Volunteers, this time with a much serious matter.

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Concert poster (source: http://party-arad.ghidularadean.ro)

Timişoara was the city that hosted the opera Anya 17, a dramatic piece written by Adam Gorb, whose subject revolves around the topic of Human Trafficking, in a week in which the Symposium of Human Traffic took place in Arad from 21 to 25 of October. As the great zenith of such event, this opera perfectly portrayed the decay and anguish of all the people (especially women) that fell victims to the scourge of Human Trafficking.

Through the sinister, non melodic and powerful sounds coming from the orchestra, together with the sorrowful singers’ words, the Filarmonica Banatul’s Sala Capitol was invaded with a restless, oppressive and yet somehow beautiful atmosphere that failed to get unnoticed by every single person in the room due to its intensity. A high note on a very important and busy week, organized both by Pro Prietenia and Pro Friendship associations in order to prevent and alert people for the reality of Human Traffic.

La revedere..

AS

Categories: Art & Culture, EVS Activities, Our City, Volunteer´s life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The bursting of a bubble”

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Having lived for the most part of my life in a small city in the interior of Portugal, the chance of going abroad can be presented both as an exciting and scary experience. The feeling of leaving everyone and everything behind, counters with the opportunity of meeting new people, discovering new cultures and most of all expanding one’s horizons through EVS Volunteering.

Somewhere along the road, after 4 hours of plane and traveling half Hungary by car, the first buildings of Arad come into view and with them a very peculiar scenery with an architectonic mix of the modern and the classic. Once inside the dormitories, time to get to know all the other volunteers and what will be the accommodations for the next 10 months.

Now that almost two weeks have passed much can be said about this experience. For starters being in touch with a multicultural group is something that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime, like getting to know a little something about others’ cultures and languages, sometimes thousands of miles away from our own countries. The support and commitment from our organization, Pro Prietenia is for sure something to be amazed as well.

Furthermore, the chance of visiting some typical places from Romania is always an interesting experience, such as the picturesque market in the city centre, where traders sell all sorts of goods every day, especially vegetables and fruit. Worth of mentioning is also the botanic garden in Macea (some kms from Arad) where one can see a most astonishing palace surrounded by beautiful nature.

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The palace at Macea’s botanic garden.

And of course one cannot forget about the special events that take place once in a while such as:

  • An incredible Flash Mob organized by people at Pro Prietenia that took place, first in the children’s park and then at Parcul Pandurice.

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The guys from Flash Mob
  • A concert from an excellent Portuguese singer (living in Romania for 8 years now) together with a brilliant 14 year old blind pianist at Loja bar, performing great classics such as Sinatra’s Fly Me To the Moon, some Romanian songs and even a Brazilian song Garota de Ipanema from Tom Jobin, which he dedicated to all the Portuguese speaking people in the audience.
  • Last but not least coming with Rita, the other Portuguese volunteer, to TV Arad to talk about our first impressions of the city and project as well as hopes and expectations, and.

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Me, Rita, and Cristina (Pro Prietenia’s project coordinator) at TV Arad

That’s all for now, even though so much more could be written about these first days, I’ll leave it for another time for sure.

La revedere…

 AS

Categories: Discovering Romania, Volunteer´s life, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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EVS experiences in Arad

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EVS experiences in Arad