Saturday, 30 January 2010


*I Love Earth...that's the name of my project! After a hectic week of working on it, I was seriously considering changing the name into IHE* Don't think I need to explain what that stands for ;)

The past week was spent filling out the Action 3.1 Cooperation with Neighbouring Partner Countries Youth Exchanges application form. I say form, but it was more a booklet, since it contains over twenty pages!

If that wasn't enough work, I also had to plan and create a programme of activities (containing detailed information on the daily activities - kinda wished I planned a two day exchange rather than a nine day) and write and send out a so called "Call for Partners".

Now this was all new to me. I thought when I had my idea for the project, the rest was just a formality (read= going to be a piece of cake). How wrong was I! There's so much more that comes with writing and submitting a quality project. On top of all that, there was of course this deadline (February 1st), looming around the corner.

Luckily, I am the kind of person that's not scared of a challenge (hence why I took the initiative to write this project all on my own, with no previous experience whatsoever) and, more importantly, will persevere. Well, this drive of mine came in very handy with this project :) Everytime when I thought or felt like I had no clue what I was writing or what I was supposed to do next - I thought of Pancakes. Palačinka with Nutella to be more precise. And bananas. And plazma :) Yeah, the sweet reward that was waiting for me upon finishing the project and submitting it on time :) Did I ever consider quitting or giving up? Not a chance! That thought never even crossed my mind :)

So, this morning we submitted the finished application form + draft schedule + eight Part IIIs. Yeah, we managed to secure some great partners from Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Poland, Turkey, Georgia, Italy and Portugal.

All that's left to do is wait...and hope that the project gets approved. For now, I am signing off. I'll get some sleep. And eat my palačinka :)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Creative in Croatia

To all my loyal readers out there ( yeah all 3 of you ;) ) It’s time for an update again! Make a note on your agenda to always check this blog on Sundays – cause that’s my day :)

Andrea and I have just returned from a very interesting, but intensive training course: “IYI – Improving Quality of International Youth Projects” funded by EACEA, a Youth in Action programme. It took place in Osijek Croatia from 10 -18 January. The trainer was the lovely Danijela Lovric – a strong woman with a ‘can do’ and ‘no bullshit’ attitude. She knows what she wants and how to get it – I truly admire that in a person. Danijela is the founder of youth centre for non-formal education CnC – which stands for Creators not Consumers. The organization is run by a group of just as inspiring people: Sonja, Kristina, Goran and Nemanja. All of them welcomed me with open arms to their city and youth club. And what a youth club it is!

I don’t think I have ever seen a youth club with such a cool chill out area: several couches, home cinema ( well a projector with space for playing movies :) ) pool table, football table, board games etc. Next to that there is a bar/kitchen area where people can refuel. Moving on to the computer room, where I could count at least 10 computers for the youngsters to use. On top of that there is the office, where all the magic happens :) And I haven’t even started to talk about the location yet: just a few minutes away from the river – what more can the kids ask for? This place is so incredibly inviting, it just makes you want to go there. In fact, if I were one of the kids, CnC would have trouble kicking me out ;) as I would be hanging out there everyday ( actually, I think they do ;) )

The training course itself was held at Hotel Mursa, 10 minutes away from the bus and train stations. It was a 2** hotel, and although the rating might suggest otherwise – it was actually a really nice hotel with friendly staff. Andrea and I shared a room on the 6th floor with a view to kill ( well, it may have been a view to kill – we just wouldn’t know, since it was foggy most times ;) )

The participants at the training came from a variety of countries including Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Latvia and from Croatia itself. We were not the only Serbians at the training – there was another group, ‘In Stage’, who is based in Belgrade as well. And there were a few people from Kosovo. Miomir told Andrea he really wanted to find a partner in Kosovo – well, I think I may have just found him one: Ellen, who is from an environmental organization. She showed a lot of interest in the project that I am currently writing and has said that she would love to collaborate with me.

The week started with icebreakers so we could get to know eachother a bit better. It included name and storytelling games. The latter meant we had to find a creative way to fill out the missing information in an unfinished story and perform it to the rest. This resulted in very imaginative performances. Good thing they didn’t tape it ;)

Day 2 was filled with presentations from ’special guests’ and other important people. The media was even there and Andrea and I got our 5 minutes of fame thanks to our appearance on TV (though we didn’t see it) and picture in the news paper (which reminds me that I forgot to bring a copy. Sorry). Later on in the day we played ‘Mission Impossible’ where we had to write a project from scratch in 60 minutes. The title of this game was appropriate, since it was indeed impossible to achieve such a huge undertaking. We all learnt this lesson and that was the point of the game. In the evening we had an ‘Intercultural Evening’ where all the participants represented their countries with food and alcohol – and there was definitely A LOT of the latter. In fact, that’s all what the Macedonians brought ;) But you didn’t hear me complaining ;) We ate, drank, talked and danced the night away…

Day 3’s programme consisted of Public Relations and Marketing workshops. The first activity we had to do was to create a poster for our organizations. There were a few groups whose posters resembled….well something a 4 year old child could have done better ;) I think the feedback read: ‘Nice job…for a child’. These were obviously the people who had a little bit too much fun the night before ;)

Since energy was low Danijela improvised and gave us a role play activity where we became superheroes! The instructions included having to travel through time at least three times in order to prevent some ‘bad’ thing from happening. However, by traveling back in time and changing something each time, this had consequences for the future in a negative way, so then the superheroes would have to travel back in time again to……you still following me? Well, I don’t blame you – they lost me at ‘Instructions:’ ;) But credits to Danijela for the quick thinking and improvisation – cause we all needed it and it boosted the overall morale :)

Day 4 started serious (we had to do SWOT analysis’ of our organizations) and ended in a gigantic role playing game where we represented Media, Disadvantaged Youth, Elderly, EVS, Parents, Street Youth, Business, Municipality and NGO. The goal was to have a positive chain reaction. And I think we managed to do that – since this will probably be the one activity we all will remember :)

Day 5 gave us the chance to discover Osijek. Besides visiting CnC’s youth centre (as mentioned above), we visited a nature park and a vineyard, where we tasted a wine…or two ;)

The last few days were dedicated for project writing. My project is called ILE* *I Love Earth and it combines the themes of Media and Environment. The goal was to start writing the project at the training, but finish it when we returned home and submit it for the February 1st deadline…

And that brings me back to the here and now. Housemates: you probably won’t see much of me the coming week, since I will be pulling all-nighters trying to finish writing my first project ;) Just kidding, but I am taking this very seriously, since the training course – and Danijela in particular – really inspired me to write my own project. Without her encouragement I probably wouldn’t have started it – so thank you Danijela for a very rewarding week :)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Buzzing in Budapest

Happy New Year or Srećna Nova Godina to everyone I haven't wished it to yet. Hope that 2010 will bring you a lot of happiness and sunshine :)

I left you off when I went to Budapest. Well, Budapest was truly magical - when I got off the train and walked out the station I walked into a misty looked mysterious and almost eerie, but 5 days later I came to love it. The days were filled with city tours, eating goulash, drinking hot wine and meeting a lot of international minds. It was definitely a visit to remember. New years eve was celebrated in a Brazilian atmosphere. I truly felt like I was in Rio rather than in Budapest. But then we had palinka and I knew right where we were :)

It was sad and hard leaving beautiful Budapest behind, but all good things come to an end...

Back in Belgrade now and preparing for my trip to Croatia, Osijek. I am leaving early tomorrow morning and it will hopefully be a week of interesting, educating, and rewarding experiences.
Talk to you all when I get back. And Happy New Year once again - unfortuntaly I am missing the Serbian new year in Belgrade as well. I have to make up for all these missed celebrations when I get back - so 'More Lovers' don't party too hard while I am gone :)
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