With the new year and our return to Bulgaria, we left behind cheerful times and festive moments with families and friends in our home countries, but we also also opened a new exciting chapter of our EVS experience abroad.
From 9th to 12th January 2018, we had our Mid-term Evaluation Meeting in Sofia. There we met new volunteers, although most people from our group -we were just 14 volunteers coming from Italy, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain, Serbia, Turkey and Georgia- were already known or even friends of ourselves. As the previous time, the programme of activities was intense and the topics to address were a lot.
We started the first day with a welcome session. Petya, our trainer, began immediately with some ice-breaking activity to create a good environment within the group. The first one was “Who is here? Why we are here”, where we collect on one map information about us and our life backgrounds -our ages, home countries, the location and the topic of our EVS projects in Bulgaria and the places we visited so far- and, on another, we wrote what we could share with the others and what we were searching during this training. Then, we continued with the activities “I am an EVSer”, “Am I a real EVSer?”, in which we shared our impressions about Bulgaria (what we like, what we don’t like and what we want to change) and defined together common values to keep in mind during the whole training: understanding, continuous improvement, freedom, curiosity, teamwork, justice and health. The day ended with a funny and spicy “Stand Up Comedy” night about our EVS in Bulgaria.
The following day started addressing the topics “Personal Assessment” and “Non-formal learning”. We walked through the stations of a “knowledge museum” to reflect on 8 key concepts of the learning process: neuroscience and the link between learning and environmental factors, “self-directed” and “lifelong” learning, the power of the emotions stored in the memory with the content that we learned, the role of linear or non-linear logic, playfulness and technology as elevators and innovative spaces to learn. Then we get deeper into intelligence and its types, as well as the Youth Pass certificate and its key competences. During the self-directed afternoon with the volunteers of on-arrival training, we made a video about the topic “Sofia for all, All for Sofia”.
The third day opened with the session “We all EVSing and goal setting”, where we used visual tools like mindmapping to represent our EVS experience. Later, we had a session dedicated to communication, attitude styles, conflict management and resolution. And during “Motivation PPP”, we worked on the concept of motivation as volunteers and the 8 steps of the project-management process, from idea to evaluation, for our personal projects. We ended the day with “Tips & tricks for BG”, an activity together with the on-arrival volunteers to give them advices and recommendations about the EVS. Our topics were teamwork and living.
The fourth and last day began with the session “NA hot hot questions”, together with Svetozar from the Bulgarian National Agency, where we clarified doubts about practicalities and issues related with the second and final part of our EVS project, such as the final report or the youthpass, and receive useful hints in our search for future opportunities. The day closed with an evaluation session, where we also wrote a letter to our future selves that we will read only in the end, when we will be already back home.
The volunteering time in Bulgaria is slowly running out as we had the chance to reflect about it during these days. After this meeting, we are encouraged to use the last months of our EVS as useful as we can, be prepared for new challenges and have all eyes about one to not miss opportunities which life offers to us.