In this cold and snowy time of reflection, hibernation and self care it’s also the time for our final article of the year. We are getting ready for the winter vacation and holidays, making subjectively ugly Christmas sweaters and meeting some long-time-no-see friends as well as building new friendships. Here’s a bit of each of us, our inner world, our changes, our experience of 2019 as volunteers and director of Smokinya Foundation.
Personally for me this year was a roller-coaster, never would I imagine that something like this could be possible in one year. During this year my team became my family. I can’t even describe how proud I am when I hear Kristina talking about her personal project or when Melanie said she is ready to post her first article (I did a small dance to honor it) and Ricsi – presenting his idea of word coffee corner or defending me in an argument about my project.
I feel happy. I feel happy to be here, to do what I’m doing and somehow this feels so right, it feels like I belong here and all together we are doing the right thing, I know that without my team this wouldn’t be possible. Also I know that I don’t want to go back to “work”, I want to do something meaningful for the rest of my life, I have no idea about what and how, but it’s not the time to think about that yet. One festival behind and one more, much bigger, ahead, everything works out. This Christmas I will spend with my Kalina-Malina family and I’m so happy that we have created a home in this city.
This is what Bulgaria taught me so far. If you share your soul with the world, the universe will answer in a kind and unexpected way. My universe extended from one insecure persona to a multicultural exchange of experiences, fears, pain, laughter and joy.
I came here with a hope to take some pictures here and there; I am stepping into the next year with a clear plan of making a meaningful photo exhibition for my personal project. I came here with a desire to meet like-minded people; I am stepping into the next year with an extended family. I came here with an intention to grow; I am stepping into the next year completely transformed.
It’s still too hard to put 2019 into words. It has been the most bizarre and the most creative year in my life. I have never experienced so much love, trust and gratitude. People I have met during this year made me feel like I belong.
I am not alone.
Committing to a long-term EVS abroad was the first fundamental life change I have made for myself. Even though I still don’t know where I am going, I am sure that it was the right decision for me to jump in the cold water. Actually, the water wasn’t as icy as I feared due to the people around me who made it much easier for me and support me wherever they can. And for that I am very grateful.
Being confronted with a new environment I have noticed some differences in my behavior and thinking. Comparing myself with the persona I have been half a year ago I see myself reacting more thoughtfully, living with “strangers” makes you definitely more sensible towards others. However, I don’t feel like I’ve changed a lot during my time here, maybe (or probably) that is yet to come.
Summarizing 2019 is impossible for me since it’s been so different from the years before (graduating school, traveling a lot, moving abroad). I feel a huge amount of gratitude and appreciation, at the same time there is a lot of confusion (imaginary question marks above my head) and uncertainty. But that’s the task I put on myself and I have to somehow navigate my way through this mess I call my life. I am looking forward to it.
I arrived six months ago for my one year European Voluntary Service. That means while I am writing these lines, I’m at the point of a great milestone. Six months behind, six months ahead: half way. In the next few sentences, I summarize the past, the present and the possible future.
The time that I have spent here in Sofia, Bulgaria is exactly enough for having a clear and great picture about this place, but also enough to have a great overview on my past life that I left behind in my place of origin – Budapest, Hungary. Not easy, nor sad, but colorful and challenging. These are the labels I would use to express my feelings about my last few months, here, in my new home. Also, I am one of those who got a second chance from life to prove that they are worthy to love and be loved, to start a new life.
At the beginning, I was fighting against myself and due to this, also against others. I was in transition between two lives: the one that I already left behind and the one I came for. My fight was not just an easy-one-round-knock-out fight. I had to realize that my past experiences keep me down much harder than I expected. What once was learnt by the brain, mind and soul is very hard to remove. It takes time. The action is called unlearning. This was my key-action up until now and through the last months, I was doing nothing else just unlearning the behavioral patterns that do not support me anymore and replace them with new ones that does.
What is the result? Since I am here, I’m not drinking alcohol nor smoking, I cut toxic relationships, false self-image, false world-image, self-distracting and offensive behavior and thoughts, low-self-esteem and a lot of things from my past, in general. And I gained a lot as well, in the process: new and healthy self-esteem, better health spiced with sport activities, I realized a new passion of mine – cooking, I got several new friends in Bulgaria and Europe-wide. The relationship with my family is on a totally new level, the level that I couldn’t even dream about before. I got new perspectives of life, I got to know a new country, got to know myself better, and also, I learnt how to make a quality event, by organizing Hungarian Cultural Night. This experience gave me an opportunity to reconnect myself with the country where I was raised and to show its uniqueness also to other people. I also found my better half – my love Natália. I got a new, second family – my flatmates Kristina, Agita, Melanie and Alex and I got a new home – Bulgaria. I am grateful for every action and everybody who supported me to get here. I feel I have achieved everything that I could and the strength to do it, I found here. In Bulgaria. At this point of my life, I came to a crossroad: what’s next?
New perspectives have appeared on the horizon.
As a youth worker and founder of Smokinya Foundation, 2019 was full of successes, and many realizations. Yet, it was, and it is not easy at all – actually it is as difficult as I would have never imagined. Dealing with the accumulated work load, cooperating and working with extended team of, sometimes 2-3 people, sometimes 10-12 people. I must say that there was no training, either formal – school or university – or non-formal – financed or paid program – that has ever covered what is there to be learned when you actually DO the things, and not simply TALK about them.
Smokinya Foundation hosted 111 people in 2019, and sent abroad to short-term educational mobility over 100 young and adult people from Bulgaria.
As a trainer in 2019 I had the privilege to work with more than 200 people, both in Bulgaria and abroad. Smokinya Foundation solely hosted one 12-month long-term volunteering project within the Erasmus+ program, 3 training courses, 1 youth exchange, and is still hosting another one 12-month long-term volunteering project, and is yet to host 1 training course in March 2020. On top of that, I had the chance to train Sicilian teachers in Bulgaria, international group on basic coaching skills in Hungary, international group on advanced coaching skills from SALTO, and international group on working with body movement as innovative method in Germany.
Having shared all that, you may become aware of much work that was and still is. And truly, time for personal private life was scarce in 2019. The price of work-related successes, seems to be private life and leisure activities.
That is why for 2020 I wish to myself, and everyone, more fun, more successes, more togetherness, in a balanced and quality way.
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This program is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme to support education, training, youth and sport in of the European Union.
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