Dzień dobry! My name is Ayşegül from Turkey and I am currently an EVS volunteer in FIYE Poland. My job here is email contact with partner organizations and volunteers coming here for workcamps. I am getting applications for workcamps, promoting workcamps, hiring volunteers for workcamps, evaluating workcamps, preparing infosheets for workcamps and one day I realised “Wait.. I’ve never been in a workcamp before”
When I realised this in mid summer it had already been 3.5 months in Poland and there were not many camps left to choose. An advantage of being volunteer in an organization office is when someone is looking for urgent volunteers instead of a cancellation, you are the first person know about that - I know, not fair. One day I received an e-mail from organization in Czechia, they had vacancy in Eco Centre in Horni Marsov due to a last minute cancellation.
Horni Marsov is a small town in Czechia close to Poland border. It has beautiful environment and national parks. SEVER is center of environmental education and ethics takes place in Horni Marsov, focuses on promoting responsible behaviour towards nature and sustainable development. They organize education programs for public and children. There is also an eco-center called DOTEK where part of the environmental education takes place. We worked in DOTEK and made the place ready for school kids and public coming here for environmental education.
I was born and raised in Istanbul with 15 million people, heavy traffic and concrete buildings. I always love being in nature but I had limited options when I was living there and I had no idea how nettles hurt.
In the workcamp, we were 19 volunteers from 10 different countries including 2 camp leaders and their 3-year-old son Richard 😊. First day we were divided into small groups and started to pick apples. We put the rotten ones to the composer and made a delicious apple juice with the rest.
Our camp leaders were environmental scientists and educational part of our camp was biomonitoring which means observing and learning species in our surrounding area and I'd never seen a dragon fly before.
Another delicious part of our workcamp was our dinners from all around the world. We were cooking as teams and everyone brought their ingredients and recepies from their countries. Vietnamese and Portugese dinners are my favorites.
Horni Marsov has amazing natural parks and hiking routes. We spent our weekend with hiking in the mountains, enjoyed the view and picked up blueberries. Along the way we discussed about why we have allergies, vaccinations, what happens if everyone becomes vegeterian, how air pollution affects our brains, how we can reduce our waste, how languages shape our minds, immigration, life in communism, arranged marriages, aquaponics, stereotypes, robots...
One day we were visited by Czech organization and asked what we learned so far. We made a circle, put a chair in the middle and told everyone what was the most valuable thing we learned during this camp. This was the hardest thing for me because I am not really fun of talking in front of a lot of people. But I have to admit that I really admired both camp leader and host family and their endeavor for nature. After 10 days, I learned plants can be more dangerous and painful than bugs, I can cook for 20 people, health insurance is main concern no matter where you are from, being a both mother of 3-year-old and pregnant are not obstacle for working in nature, 3-hour of hiking in mountains and being an effective leader.