I feel like I’ve been here for 33 and not just 3 months within my volunteering adventure in Bydgoszcz, Poland. There are so many things going on and I don’t even know where to start but for the beginning, I will emphasize the culture shock. Culture was and still is number 1 reason for sparking conflicts between nations, however I am a follower of an anti-thesis in which I consider the culture as the most efficient tool for overcoming social and racial disparities. In a nutshell, the more we are introduced into a different culture, the more understanding we have for opinions, behaviors and traditions that are not close to our own.
I am working full-time in a Cultural Center called “Wiatrak” – Windmill, where my primary responsibility is to contribute in the promotion of the activities through creation of a media content. But, if I mention parts of my evaluations papers which I fulfill on a monthly level, you can see that my scope of work is more colorful than the Skopje City Park in summer. Since the very beginning, I write articles in which I depict the details from the activities that take place in all institutions within the Center, such as: International department, Kindergarten, Senior Club, Rehabilitation Center for people with disabilities and the activities outside of the Center.
Truth to be told, Poland is a country with a similar character as Macedonia. Although I was prepared for pretty cold relations and minimum amount of human contact, the totally opposite has happened. Maybe because of the fact that I am a volunteer who is open for adventures or the fact that I am Macedonian who can find a common topic to speak about with everyone, most of my time I am surrounded by locals and internationals from all sides of Europe. Maybe not as much, but Polish people rank highly the interpersonal aspect and are prone to having a friendly talk in any given chance. The most significant barrier is obviously the language, but fortunately I can understand more than 50% of the whole conversation. The biggest challenge is when its my turn to respond in which I “invent” a new language, a so called “smoothie”, which contains Macedonian/Serbian/Croatian/Bulgarian/Russian fruits.
The greatest responsibility which I had in these 3 months was the role I got within the short-term ESC project – “Hey Christmas Carols 3” or in Polish “Hej Kolęda Kolęda 3”. Polish people are crazy about Christmas and all the traditions that come with this holiday. Three years in a row, Wiatrak has been inviting 12 volunteers who are hired to animate the local population through music and to share positive vibrations for everyone who is in need. This year we had volunteers from 7 different countries who practiced 7 Christmas songs on 7 different languages supported by instruments, choreography and scenography. Fortunately, the groups was a cocktail of the best ingredients that one can find in the menu and the project reached the peak due to the fact that our performances were seen by more than 2500 people. We sang and played in primary and high schools, kindergartens, senior clubs, hospitals, churches and on the scene of the Christmas Market in Bydgoszcz.
I was active before the project has started by interviewing and coordinating sending organizations and volunteers. I had the chance to contribute with my musical talent by composing the background music thanks to my percussion instruments. Above all, my main role was to video document the whole project. The final videos are in the phase of editing and hopefully you will be able to see them in the next months.
My experience is dynamic, rich and full of moments that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Greetings from cold Bydgoszcz!