One year ago I didn’t even know that international work camps exist, but this summer was one of my best holidays, all thanks to the Tanderbal work camp in Serbia. I vaguely remember how i found out about it, i think i came across it when surfing on Facebook – regardless of all negative effects of social media today; i can say that they successfully provide us with events that interest us. Anyhow, around middle June this year, after i finished with exams for the summer, i decided to apply for one of the work camps. I was limited to two weeks, because i still had some exams in autumn, so that was the first criteria, that i had to set. Secondly, i wanted to go somewhere close to Slovenia, because of my budget and because it was my first work camp, so i guess i naively thought that i could run back home, if something would go wrong.
The main part and the reason for the need of volunteers in Bečej was Tanderbal festival on water. We had a lot of time for preparations so our days weren’t very busy and we could use time for getting to know other volunteers and locals better through some games and activities in the camp. We also had to organise our everyday life there by cooking and cleaning, so that was fun and educational way of learning group dynamic.
Some of the work assignments were more physical like setting up tents, tables and chairs on the festival area, cleaning riverbank of Tisa, building cardboard boats and others were more creative, like decorating camp and festival area, coming up with ideas for kids animation and games without borders.
Best part of the camp were nights that we spend by the fire place in the evenings, when all of the volunteers and locals gathered, played some music and had interesting conversations with each other. I will never forget couple of beautiful nights when I stayed up almost whole night just talking about life, surrounded by few amazing people, with whom I am still in touch and I hope I will stay for a long time.
Besides new friends, this experience gave me some practical skills, helped me to develop my social skills and broadened my knowledge about other cultures. Maybe not all work camps are like that, but I believe that in each of them you can find warm people who have similar mind set as you or at least one thing in common – helping other people and in that way willing to contribute to more tolerant, accepting and open community.
I only wish that I would find out about these kind of voluntary projects earlier and that even more people would know about them, because there are so many positive benefits that you and whole society can gain from.
Story written by Eva Korenjak Lalovič, who took part in a workcamp in Serbia, thanks to Zavod Voluntariat – SCI Slovenia.
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