SEPTEMBER AT SVITAC: A MONTH OF CHANGE, GOODBYES AND NEW ARRIVALS
As always September is the month where the seasons slowly transform from Summer into Autumn, and this change of atmosphere has been felt at Svitac too. We said goodbye to the busyness of Summer camps at the end of August, and welcomed the more relaxed pace that September brought to the centre.
Sadly September also brought the end of service for a couple of our brilliant international and local volunteers. At the beginning of the month we said goodbye to a long serving local volunteer Aida and we wish her an amazing year with her scholarship in Italy. We also said goodbye to a short term summer volunteer Trang and wish her luck with her final year at university in London. Towards the end of the month we said our last goodbyes to long term German volunteer Anne. As her final big contribution to Svitac, Anne organised a cultural evening on 26th September, for the local community, called “It doesn’t always have to be Shakespeare” (Ne mora uvijek biti šekspir). The evening showcased the hilarious theatrical comedy play that Anne had been directing over the last few months, with her drama club for local Brčko youths. Anne also arranged for there to be two live musical performances and two short film showings after her comedy performance. The evening had a large turn out, and was greatly enjoyed by the whole audience. All in all, it was a fantastic success and a great send off for Anne. We wish her all the best with her planned future travels and whatever she chooses to do after this (which we are sure she will excel at).
Although it has been sad to see so many old faces leave this month, September was also happily a month of new arrivals! We have been very fortunate in welcoming two new volunteers: Alex, from Germany, who will be with us for one year and Cat, from the UK, who will be with us for 3 months. They have both slotted into life at Svitac brilliantly, have brought some great new energy and ideas to the team, and have already contributed some fantastic workshops to the daily activities schedule. We look forward to working with and getting to know them more as the months progress!
September also brought some international visitors to the centre! At the beginning of the month we had a South American PHD student called Louis drop into the centre, to interview the staff and volunteers. It was great to meet Louis and introduce him to the work we do in Brčko, we hope that we provided him with some useful insights into life in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the rest of his research goes well. A couple of our international volunteers also had friends from the UK visit them for 2 weeks this month. Their friends really got stuck into work at the centre, were brilliant with the children and were very helpful additions to the team during their short visits.
Alongside the new staff and visitors, September brought an influx of new arrivals to our morning workshops aswell. In fact, throughout this month our morning workshops were practically bursting at the seems as we had a record number of under 7yr olds coming to the centre! Yet, unfortunately this was not the same case for our afternoon workshops. For all of our slightly older Svitac participants September brought the beginning of a new school term. Therefore, due to the fact that many of our 8+year old participants have been focusing on their studies, our attendance numbers for this age group have dipped slightly throughout the majority of the month.
Despite slightly lesser numbers in the afternoon workshops and greatly inflated numbers in the morning, Svitac’s daily activities schedule has continued as usual throughout September. However, as a new addition, some of the volunteers decided to introduce themed weeks into the daily activities schedule! This meant that the volunteers aimed to tailor the majority of daily workshops around the same topic. Due to the popularity of the chosen topic, the whole month of September was themed around one topic: “Under the Sea”. For example in arts and crafts the children made an “under the sea” themed display board, sea themed toys, hats and masks, in music the children learned sea themed songs, and in the English and German language classes the children learned sea related vocabulary and played sea themed games.
The final new addition to life at Svitac this September was the commencement of a new Personal Project by two of our international volunteers. Eleonore and Monica have decided to begin a new data collection process in order to evaluate the work achieved by Svitac. The data and information that they collect throughout this project will hopefully be used to help Svitac secure funding to sustain our current work and support future projects. This will be an ongoing project that will continue until end of February 2017, and we hope that all our friends and members will support us throughout this exciting new venture!
Eleonore Pearson, Svitac EVS volunteer