On-arrival training, why in Sarajevo?

During his EVS project each volunteer has precious possibility to participate in many different workshops and trainings. One of them is on-arrival training in which with the greatest pleasure I took part 21-26.10.2013 in Sarajevo, together with other volunteers from the Balkans. The point of on arrival training is to better understand own role in whole EVS structure, learn how to deal with challenges and simply how to survive 6, 10, 12 months in foreign land and culture, sometimes totally different from ours. Within these 5 days volunteers from Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Turkey, France, Belgium, Spain, Hungary and Great Britain had to deal with variety of tasks, exercises  and activities as well as ask some questions referred to their motivation, their projects and any other they wanted to find an answer. Just to mentioned, we tried to reach the above by building our paper village, working together on special choreography, playing roles for better understanding topic of conflict management, sharing our current experiences from hosting countries, planning our next activities corresponding to our projects and last but not least, talking to the others and what is even more important listening each other carefully. Because you never know whose experience can be useful in the future for you.  And now it comes, the answer for the opening question. Different people from different countries, different cultures, different personalities, variety of activities they need to face,  compromise they try to achieve (sometimes). Everything from above meets in Sarajevo, place full of contradictions. At the first sight visitor has an impression of being surrounded by Little universes located on every single corner! Maybe I am not qualified enough to admit it, although I believe that there is no other place in Europe which is as mixed,  vibrant, multifarious and rich in culture as Sarajevo is. For me, here we are, the Balkans in a nutshell. To begin with, most obvious characteristic, something noticeable for every tourist in the first moment – architecture. Brand new, shiny skyscrapers are between renovated, majestic Austro-Hungarian style buildings and destroyed by recent war ones. Mosques, orthodox churches, synagogue, catholic cathedral almost at the same street are visible sign of multiplicity of religions here. But muezzins voice and church bells are not the only music you can hear walking the streets of Sarajevo. Traditional sevdalinki compete here with most famous ex-jugo rock groups such as for example Bijelo Dugme, a Bosnan paralel to Rolling Stones! About the culture mix, traditional kafanas and folklore festivals are as popular as modern, fancy clubs and jazz festivals. So how is it possible for all these beings to coexist together? It could be spirit of the city but nothing would have happened  without hard work, sweat and tears. Certainly, it was not easy to achieve that balance and what is more, I am quite sure the process is not over yet. Isn’t it a boost of energy for action, then? Ajde, volunteers, open your eyes, ears and observe Sarajevo. Let’s use lesson given to us by that city not only during our project but please keep it in your minds after EVS as well. In conclusion, maybe nobody has thought about on-arrival training in that context but personally, I don’t believe in coincidence. Paulina Drzal