To spread solidarity

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Volunteering at Zavod Nefiks

It was the summer of 2022, when the ending of my short-term ESC volunteering was approaching. Boiling Sicilian summer led me to the conclusion that I want to direct more of my time towards spreading ideas and acts of solidarity, so I decided to apply for long-term volunteering. I sent a couple of applications to organizations in different countries and Zavod Nefiks was among the ones who replied the fastest. Not only was the response fast, but I was also really pleased with the interview, with the information I received and with the dear faces I saw. It didn’t take me long to make a decision that I will accept a 12 month long volunteering opportunity at Nefiks.

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Colors of the dusk in Trnovo

My volunteering experience was primarily based in the youth center Vič, in Ljubljana. There, I had a chance to work with my dear coordinator Karmen, to interact with a lot of playful, smart and ambitious Ljubljana kids and young people, to play a bunch of board games, table tennis, football, billiard, my beloved darts, to draw and express myself creatively. I was also assisting with different events and activities, mainly educational, non formal workshops considering a spectrum of topics.

Other parts of volunteering revolved around participation in activities, panels and conferences related to youth work, to the protection of environment, human and workers rights (I was extremely inspired to actively participate in the discussion about prevention of precarious working practices, in the National assembly of Slovenia) and to the prevention of sexual violence. I also had a chance to participate in Nefiks’s career day workshops, where I was able to share my educational, professional and international experiences with highschool students in and around the Ljubljana area, as well as to answer the questions about international opportunities (which I find very satisfactory). Being in the process of creating and facilitating the escape room about international opportunities was also a really creative, educational and enriching experience. Likewise, the creation of the board game, which will help young people get more familiar with the possibilities they have when figuring out their education and career path, was also a useful experience.

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Brain teasing game

It was a really interesting and challenging adventure to conduct an interview with a Slovenian speaking young artist and to see how resourceful I can be while writing reports and articles in the Slovenian language - Slovenian language and Croatian dialect I am using in my hometown have a lot of similarities, which, for me, was not always constructive, but for sure it was stimulating and entertaining. Moreover, I am glad to say that I used an opportunity to create and facilitate an online Croatian language course - it was my first time trying to help people willing to practice and learn at least some of Croatian in a more organized manner.

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Picking what was suppose to be a burger from the floor

Volunteering at Nefiks also enabled me to make my few years old idea come true. I did it through my personal project “Cookueendom without cookies”. Participants of the project and I were cooking vegan dishes. We were using and developing our improvisational and culinary skills while hanging out and talking about mental health, together with everyday obstacles we (and people we know) either faced or are facing. Imperfections of that project, together with precious participants, made it perfect. I got experience in planning, preparing, organizing and facilitating a day and a half long event, which was way different from organizing and leading 45, 60, 90 minutes long workshops. It really was a dream come true, thanks to which I am able to prepare something similar or bigger, but with less of old and more of new imperfections.

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Yes, we also baked those bagels

Volunteering at Nefiks enabled me to cooperate with two other youth work oriented NGOs in Ljubljana, as well as to join the volunteer crew on a few music festivals. Valuable part of my time in Slovenia was driving around with bicycles, visiting beautiful wonders of nature, absorbing sun rays and rain drops surrounded by picturesque seaside places, roaming the hills, mountains, forests, rivers and waterfalls. I am so grateful that I was able to spend my free days in Lucija, Piran and in the magical Soča river and to say “Goodbye” to dear Ana and Lea (thank you, girls!).

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Soča river

Obviously, connections I was able to make with other ESC volunteers from different countries, as well as with residents of Slovenia, were and still are extremely valuable. Thanks to people on the other side of those connections, I was also able to see a panoramic view of the beautiful Slovenian coast. 

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Part of the view from the plane

I also had an opportunity to share my living space with dear Valeriia, Alejandra and Ash.

I dare to say that one of the most enriching things in human life is feeling and being understood, appreciated, respected and accepted the way you are, while being aware that it is only natural to go through changes. To have an opportunity to change your point of view without judgment, to broaden your perspective and grow as a person for me is equivalent to being and living in a safe space. I definitely can say that my Slovenian experience was that - space full of understanding and support. At the same time, it was a challenging space, with its obstacles and difficulties, but they are an inevitable part of most spaces known to society (and yes, those are solvable, with proper support!).

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Getting ready for b-day party in Idrija

I really have to direct my thanks to Nives, Viktorija and, again, Karmen and Martina - thank you for helping me through not so easy and challenging times. It really means a lot!

Thank you Nefiks for giving me the opportunity to get more familiar with youth work and myself; thank you for many opportunities to spend my time doing things which are valuable to me!

And for you, who are on your way to the Nefiks and Slovenia - be confident, be YOURSELF, express and respect your needs, expect the unexpected of this wonderful nature and welcoming working environment and be sure - there are many opportunities for you to help around, to continue your life path after the ESC, but richer in experiences, broader in skills, competences and knowledge.

To spread solidarity truly is to act upon your compassion, understanding and respect towards people around you, but also, to be kind, accepting and in harmony with yourself.



Author: Matea Bučkal

SL european solidarity corps LOGO CMYK



Poslanstvo zavoda je mladim in mladinskim organizacijam zagotavljati ustrezno strokovno podporo pri beleženju in evidentiranju neformalnega izobraževanja in učinkov mladinskega dela z namenom njegovega priznanja v širši družbi. Nadalje je namen zavoda mladim pomagati pri kariernem razvoju, zaposlovanju in aktivnem državljanstvu ter zagotavljati pomoč in podporo pri organizacijskem in drugem razvoju mladinskih in nevladnih organizacij.

   Zavod Nefiks
            Ob dolenjski železnici 12
            1000 Ljubljana


    +386 40 698 915


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