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Blog Joanna

Almost one month in Chernivtsi: Being active is awesome!

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Sighteeing is great, but let's back to work!

My next days in Chernivtsi were definitely more intensive and full of activities. But let me make a long story short and describe just some of our tasks and activities.

 

Road safety activities for kids.

As we all know - road safety matters! We are responsible for the safety of the young children but we should also engage them in learning about how to be safe in the traffic environment. And that was our task! Together with Asia (the second volunteer and my new awesome flatmate), Zhanna (mentor) and Stas (local volunteer) and supported by our local organization Bukovinian Agency for Regional Development - we decided to organize some activities for kids in local kindergarten and in the park. Children learn more effectively if they recive clear instructions through games and outdoor activities. That's why we prepared some presentation and games with colorful images and drawning with a chalk. At the end kids recived some books about safety on the road and baloons. 

park1 park3

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[All these activities take place in frame of sensitization campaigne "Let's be Responsible on the Road" which is part of the project MIS ETC 1719 "Safety Information System in Road Traffic".]

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The Public Forum |  Громадський форум.

Another activities took place during the event the Public Forum on "Integrated development concept of downtown of Chernivtsi". The main goal of this event was inviting community to participate in discussion, finding alternative solutions and asking participants for the feedback. 

We helped to organize the BARD'S stand about the implementation of sustainable transport in Chernivtsi, for example: public transportation and  infrastructure for cyclist and pedestrians.There was also a free space prepared for participants, so they had an opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas about transportation system in Chernivtsi. 

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Additionally we helped to prepare the CycloInfoPoint to inform people about traffic rules and cycling routes in Chernivtsi. Also all who wanted had and opportunity to get some advice about the usage of bikes, for example how to choose, service, where to ride. And of course there was also a free bike rental - thanks to it all Chernivtsi habitants had a chance to feel the taste of bike-friendly Chernivtsi. :)

And no surprises - as my camera is one of my best friends - taking photos was one of my main task during the event. 

ro1

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English Speaking Club & Polish Language Club

So to be frank - I was a bit afraid before my first Polish lesson (classes for beginners), because I have almost no experiance in teaching Polish (except a few private Polish lessons). But you know what? Day by day I like teaching more and more! But as for now it's too early to say something more about it. Task in progress. :)

Two times per week we are also organizing English Speaking Club to improve our language and communication skills. As for now there is not many participants but week by week more people is coming so I hope we are going in the right direction. Because two (or more) heads learn better than one, right? :) 

esc

 

First week in Chernivtsi: Seen and shot.

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Since coming to Ukraine I have basically the same general goals as almost all volunteers: to improve my language skills, learn a new language, gain valuable work experience, challenge myself, discover new places, find new friends and to generally change my outlook on life. And after first 3 weeks of my stay here I can definitely say - I am going to the right direction. 

 

SEEN AND SHOT: SIGHTEESING FIRST! :)

I would describe my first week in Chernivtsi as some kind of "adaptation week". It means my schedule was quite flexible, not full of tasks yet, so I had plenty of free time to know the city better. Or at least try to discover the city with one of my best friends - my camera. :)

Luckily, my mentor Denis came across as a perfect tour guide! During the first days we took a walk around my district, he provided me with all usefull information about the city, where to go, where to buy the best food, where to find some nice places to visit and all that things you just have to know to find yourself in a new place of living. 

To be honest, my district is definitely NOT one of the prettiest places in Chernivtsi, the area is full of grey blocks and small shops, that's it,  but that was just the beginning of my sighteeing. 

kwarc

The other days we took some longer walks around the city, Denis and his wife showed me all interesting places in the city and also told about them like professional tour guides. :) I have been also at the Chernivtsi National University with Bohdan, who is going soon to Poland for a long-term EVS project. 

So yes, basically I have been (almost) everywhere during my first week, even out of the city to spend lazy day by the lake. But well, still I am not able to find words good enough to describe the city, so I hope these few photos below will do a better job than words. 

 

Chernivtsi.

 

Why EVS? Why in Ukraine?

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I consider myself as a life enthusiast. It may sound cliche, I know, but I really think that life is too short and our world is too big to spend all these years living the same boring life, working for just one company and living in the same place. But hey, don't get me wrong! If you are one of those people - there is also nothing wrong in it. But as we all need air and water to survive - I need to constanly challenge myself to feel that I'm still alive. But ok,  let's go further. :)
For the first time I have heard about EVS a few years ago when I met a German girl who was doing her EVS project in Poland. I didn't really like her tasks to be honest (as she was doing everyday the same stuff in the kindergarten) but the idea of such kind of activities seemed to be pretty cool. I started to read about it more and looking for some useful information but then I was too busy with my studies and other things so I completely forgot about everything.
These thoughts came back again a few years later when I graduated from my University. I was checking databases for some projects and actually I even sent one application and... I got in! But well, life is full of surprises, my plans have changed and I ended up doing an internship (and later working) in Berlin.
After one year of working and living in the capital of Germany I decided to make a break. That was the right time to change something and gain some new interesting experience. I was finally ready and absolutely up for the challenge.
I was not sure for what exactly I am looking for - except two things:
1. definitely something that relates to my interests and... 
2. definitely I want to go to Ukraine. 
So my "no plan" became "a plan".  
First step: EVS database. Keyword: Ukraine. I have found a project which seemed to be interesting to me and I just sent my application. Skype interview, more details about the project and my decision: I'm going
To be honest my parents were a bit sceptical at first. The same as some of my friends with their attitude: "Oh come on girl, do you really want to leave such an amazing city of Berlin? For what? For Ukraine? Be serious". But luckily only some of them. :) My parents and close friends (even though they were a bit sceptical about that idea) were not surprised. Actually not at all. Because they know me and they know how much I enjoyed my every trip to Ukraine. Love at first sight, I would say. :) 
So yes, it wasn't my first trip to Ukraine. I have been here a few times before, so my choice about the place wasn't accidental and I am convinced that I made a good decision. 
So what about Chernivtsi? As I said before - I have been in Ukraine a few times before but never in Chernivtsi, so I was even more excited.
Usually I prefer spontaneous trips with my backpack but this time it was just a long and boring journey from my wild west of Poland to Chernivtsi. It took me more than 24h (by train through Poland and by bus through Ukraine) so when I already came to the city I was tired as hell. 
I left the bus. Tetiana (local coordinator), Denis (mentor), Jula (his wife) and Bogdan (local) picked me up from the station to my new flat. I knew that I will be sharing the flat with 2 other volunteers from Poland, but I came first and actually I spent the whole first week alone. 
The organisation of the project is based in Donetsk, but because of the situation in Ukraine - we (volunteers) are living in Chernivtsi what means also cooperation with local NGO organisation. And localization of the agency is just perfect - on one of the most popular and lovely street in Chernivtsi - Kobylianska Street - full of colorful tenement houses and lovely cafes. "I am pretty sure I gotta like this place" - that was my first thought. 
The first meeting at the office came across as a meeting with very nice and friendly people, for example Tetiana (local coordinator mentioned before). She provided me with all information about EVS, the project, organisation, the city and many, many more.
So...let's start the adventure! 
More impressions (and photos) soon. Stay tuned. :) 

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