Volunteering for Acceptance and Tolerance

I participated in a short-term EVS in Macedonia as part of the project ”Volunteering for Acceptance and Tolerance”. I spent 3 months in Kumanovo – a town located in the north-eastern part of Macedonia. My project was divided into two parts – I was working in the youth center and in the refugee camp in Tabanovce. The MultiКулти youth center is the place where children of both ethnicities (Macedonian and Albanian) can spend together their free time. Together with the other volunteers I was responsible for preparing interactive activities for the youngsters. We were playing various games, teaching Polish and English language, making presentations about our countries etc. We talked a lot with the youngsters about their day to day life, which taught me a lot and broadened my mind in many respects.

At the beginning of the project I was a bit insecure if I will be able to work with children whose language I do not know and make friendships with them. Fortunately, it turned out that it was not that hard as I expected and with the support of other volunteers and local youth workers I could easily become a part of MultiКулти. The youngsters were mostly very open, nice and curious of many things and also about my country.

The refugee camp where I volunteered as well is located in the village Tabanovce on the Macedonian-Serbian border. Before I started going there I did not know any refugees and I did not know what to expect. But I was very curious on the other hand and I wanted to contribute to the work of the organisation, which in my opinion did very well for the people in need. There are many prejudices and fears about the Muslim religion and about the refugees in the world, and getting to know the people in the camp helps us to understand them and get rid of these insecurities. My activities in the camp were mostly related to the sport and leisure activities. Everything what we were doing there was to make their time a little bit more interesting and nice. Even the simplest things which were done together allowed me to get to know the refugees more. Now I feel personally enriched.

I appreciate the EVS from the social and cultural point of view as well. First, I met a lot of interesting and inspiring people – volunteers, ex-volunteers, NGO workers, local people, guests from abroad. I got to know a lot about Macedonia and its culture, history, tradition and language. I was also travelling a bit around the Balkans. To combine all of the factors together, I would assess my EVS as a very positive and meaningful experience. I recommend all young people to take this opportunity and be part of one of the amazing EVS project abroad.

Story written by Anna Karnas, EVS in Kumanovo, Macedonia

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