My volunteering at Svitac (Firefly) – Monica Reeves, UK
I had many motivations for coming to do EVS in Bosnia and Herzegovina, some professional and some personal. I finished a degree in International politics, with the aim to work in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. As all of my knowledge on this topic was from an academic/political perspective, I was really keen to gain some practical experience and insight into what peacebuilding looks like on a day to day basis. Svitac (Firefly) seemed like the perfect organisation to gain this experience, as it has many peacebuilding aspects to its work but also seemed a really creative organisation that works with young people, which I also really enjoy. Aside from the professional appeal of the organisation, I had heard many positive things about the Balkans, BiH specifically, that it was a very green and beautiful country with lots of mountains – another one of my passions!
During my year of volunteering with Svitac (Firefly) I was involved in all their daily activities, held evening English and music workshops, helped in coordinating their annual events and supported in a lot of administration and other aspects of Svitac’s (Firefly’s) work. In addition to these required duties, I did a lot of extra projects that were relevant to my interest in peacebuilding. I represented the organisation in a collaborative project entitled ‘Tolerance week’, where all organisations involved hosted various community events that engaged with the theme of promoting tolerance in Brcko. In addition to this, myself and Eleonore (another EVS long term volunteer) dedicated six months to designing and conducting a sociological research project, which assessed levels of tolerance in Svitac (Firefly) participants, and measured to what extent Svitac (Firefly) as an organisation has had on these tolerance levels.
One of the wonderful aspects of Svitac (Firefly), and of EVS in general is the flexibility in the role. Whilst I officially came to Svitac (Firefly) as the music coordinator, my role involved so much more that that and let me contribute in any way I wished. Svitac (Firefly) staff met all my ideas and contributions with enthusiasm and support and as far as I can remember, all those ideas became realities. Another really great aspect of the Svitac (Firefly) working environment is that of its constantly changing international staff. During my year in Brcko, I worked with volunteers from ten different countries, in addition to the local staff and volunteers. The working environment is relaxed, open and friendly and is a constant hub of enthusiasm and ideas. On many occasions I heard Svitac (Firefly) referred to as one of the best EVS accredited organisations in the Balkans which doesn’t surprise me!
BiH is a fascinating country and Svitac (Firefly) provides you with an equally interesting working context, at the same time as being a really friendly and creative place to work. I am leaving my year here with a questionable level of the local language but the feeling that everything possible has been squeezed out of this experience, and I wholeheartedly believe that the professional, social and personal benefits of doing this are endless!
Monica Reeves, UK
Svitac EVS Volunteer, 1st March 2016 – 28th February 2017