Dates: 7.-28. October 2019 (short-term), 18. June – 18. December 2019 (long-term)
Venue: Kannavia, Cyprus
Programme and action: European Solidarity Corps (ESC) – short-term, long-term
Hosting organization: A hosting organisation is PlanBe, Plan it Be it.
Volunteers: Martin Žaba (long-term), Ivana Bendová, Monika Procházková, Ivana Sedláčková (short-term)
I participated in long-term ESC project called Re-imagiers for 6 months for NGO PlanBe, Plan it Be it. PlanBe is located in Nicosia (capital of Cyprus) but their office is in small town called Kokkinothrimithia.
I chose this project because I needed some change in my life. Last year I discovered amazing opportunitties of ERASMUS+ and participated in 3 training courses. On the second one I got really interested in non-formal education and decided to be part of this NGO world. I was looking for some professional experience so I chose this project. The object of re-imaginers was to help organization organize erasmus mobility projects and local events. We were also delivering up-cycling workshops at kindergardens and local fairs.
Our accomodation was located in Lakatamia (suburban area of Nicosia). I didnt read many information about Cyprus before going there. I know I should prepare myself better but I wanted to experience real cultural shock. I got what I deserved and wanted. Immediately after landing in Cyprus I noticed greek alphabet and I completly forgot they speak greek cypriot there. After taking first bus from airport I noticed they drive on left side – Cyprus was a british colony. Cyprus has two “states”? Northern part is occupied? Any many more surprises were coming. Learning how to use public transport becasue it works really differently then in my country. But after one month I used to everything. It is more like in fact I learnt how to go with the flow in Cyprus and than was time to enjoy this adventure.
On arrival training (which is part of ESC) I met other volunteers from different NGO. I made a lot of friends there and some friendships are so good that I can call them lifelong. This also helped to create some “safe net.” You can speak with other volunteers about problems in your NGO and they can share their experience. Or just support your activites and collaborate in projects. Nicosia is intercultural city. You can meet people from other EU projects like Erasmus for young Entrepreneurs or Syrian, African refugees. It doesnt stop to surprise you how many people from different places and with different background you can meet here. Thats is one of the benefit – almost anyone in Nicosia (also Cyprus in general, not speaking about small villages in rural areas) speaks english.
My working schedule was monday – friday (except some events on weekends). Thanks to fact, that other volunteers and my friends had the same working schedule we started to explore Cyprus on weekends. It was amazing to explore beaches (and sleeping there), hiking in mountain and doing sightseeing in other cities.
This project was the most exciting part of my life. New country, culture, friends, environments, work, etc. In these six months I was never bored for five minutes. I was suffering from oppostie – lack of time. I never felt so busy and so many opportunites in my live. I didnt know what to do first. I met a lot of inspiring and motivated people. It is pleasure to work in this environment. In the end a lot of my best friends decided to spend more time in Cyprus. We just went back home for vacation and we will meet again in Cyprus in spring.
This ESC experience can only give you. Considering personal and professional level. I learnt so much about myself and gained professional experience I came for. I suggest this experience for everyone. It is best time to try it during/between/after your studies. Some volunteers were just waiting to take another exam next semester. Other finishied a school and didnt know what to do next or just couldnt find a proper job. Volunteers are usually people who want to improve their CV, experience living in foreign country or just looking for some directions in their life. Everyone has different motivations. But all of them are willing to contribute society and also learn something. Thats the idea of ESC. You give and you gain. It is win-win situation for boths sides. So you shouldnt hesitate!
From 7.10.2019 to 28.10.2019 in Cyprus, in the small village of Kannavia, an ESC project from the European Union called RE-Imaginers took place. 12 volunteers from 4 countries (Portugal, Romania, France and the Czech Republic) were participated in the project. We were 3 volunteers from the Czech Republic. Before the project we got a contact to each other so we could arrange for organizational matters – eg how to fly to Cyprus, what to take, etc. Before the departure we had a training where a representative from the sending organization told us everything needed about the program and project details to prepared us for the ESC.
I met the girls at the airport. Then we had almost three hours flight to Cyprus. The flight was direct, so we didn’t have to change planes. There was a bus waiting at the airport, which took us to the village. For the next two days, we played games in order to know each other, and we were thinking about what we could create from coffee cans. The next two days we realized the ideas. On Saturday, October 12, 2019, the host organization prepared a trip to the capital city of Cyprus – Nicosia, where the Erasmus + festival took place. We took part in competitions and won material prizes. As we lived in the mountains, we climb up the second highest mountain in Cyprus on Sunday 13.10.2019. The organizers brought us by car under the mountain and we were taken over by the Adventure Cyprus organization, which organized hikes, kayak trips, etc. The climb was very nice, although sometimes difficult. We all did it. In the afternoon they prepared a first aid course for us, where we all repeated the first aid.
For the next eight days they gave us a entitled days off. We rent a car with the girls and travelled through almost the entire Greek part of Cyprus. When we returned, we started preparing products for the festival that took place on the last day of the project. We made wallets from milk boxes, painted coffee cans and wrapped with twine, from old suitcases we made couch and other products. We also learned the traditional Cypriot dance that we danced at the festival. Even if the weather wasn’t good for the festival, I have to say that it was good. People came over and looked at our products.
When I evaluate the project as a whole, it was a successful project. It met all my expectations. Since we went to Cyprus, I was not expecting a busy program, and so it happened. If I had to decide whether to go to the project again, I would not hesitate to go. We had a lot of free time so we could focus on ourselves and realize a lot of things. Going to Cyprus as a volunteer was the best thing I’ve done in the last year.