Back to High School with FOR YOU: EVS Presentations at the Vasil Levski Institute

Last week I and other international volunteers went to the High School Vasil Levski to set up presentations about the opportunities of the EVS experience and the different national backgrounds of the people involved in it. The balsamic scent of the incipient springtime was in the air together with the testosterone explosion of the young Bulgarians, who were in the courtyard smoking their first cigarettes and fighting with each other in a playful way. In Italy I worked in the field of journalism for same years so my tasks were about taking photos, writing articles and providing moral and logistical support to those who were external of the FOR YOU association (something like bringing cookies and fruit juices in order to ease the anxiety caused by speaking for the first time in a foreign language in front of an entire classroom of youngsters). The first impact was not the best because of some language difficulties: the guard at the entrance was not able to understand a single word in English and our native supervisor – Dilyana – was a bit late, so we tried to arrange a basic conversation in Russian and Bulgarian language with clunky outcomes. In the end, the guy became so disappointed he got rid of us with a sarcastic “Auf Wiedersehen!”. Luckily the awkward comedy sketch lasted not so much: in ten minutes we were headed toward the classroom dedicated to the public presentations. The walls were painted with some disturbed and sharply pointed street graffiti mindful of the Soviet era: a very unusual and intriguing set for an event like that.

After a short introduction provided by our supervisor which explained how to go abroad with EVS and especially why we started the series of presentations by volunteers. Every one of us was asked to prepare a short slideshow about interesting, curious or funny rudiments regarding the respective countries and hometown. It was funny in an anthropological way to certify how most of the kids knew the Latin countries just through big international football players, techno dance DJ’s and typical iconic foods – in spite of some of them thought that pizza was a traditional Spanish product.

Andrea, from Italy.
Dovile, as know as the Lithuanian Wonder Woman

Dovile showed a video about Lithuania surely interesting for the young aspiring Bulgarian investors, businessmen and basket players. Sergio, Laura and Samuel spoke about the most charming places to visit in Spain and some other cultural specificities and so did the volunteers from the other countries: Andrea (Italy), Juliette (France) and Lelde (Latvia).

Laura and Sergio



Just to make my personal presentation more entertaining I drew a kind of ironic sketch representing the typical Italian figure according to the most common stereotypes: one guy really similar to Don Vito Corleone of the Godfather saga dressed in Armani, playing football and singing silly old Italian songs, keeping a mandolin in one hand and a dish full of pizza and spaghetti in the other one.

The undersigned myself: Michele





 All of these stories were mixed with a lot of useful information about the pillars and the dynamics of the EVS life: what are the hosting and the sending organization and how they work, for example. In the beginning, the teens were a bit shy (maybe because of the lumbering presence of the English teacher) and barely inclined to participate, but after some minutes they started to be sincerely curious and enthusiastic by our activities.
Of course, not all of them were totally involved and some were playing all the time with the phone or speaking quietly with the favourite schoolmates of the opposite sex: normal behaviours for a bunch of adolescents besieged by hormones and marked by a really ephemeral attention span. Anyway, when at the end of the event some young Bulgarians came to us in order to know more information about our work, our tasks and our experiences – seeming very captured by the prospect to do an EVS in other European countries – I felt really proud to be there making myself useful.
We took their contacts and maybe one day they will become the future volunteers and they will do the same kind of presentation in the high schools of their hosting nations, perpetrating the amazing EVS saga all around Europe. Because this is the genuine core of the EVS life: carry on behind the backstage of the big European Story a continuity of intents and common feelings as an ongoing process.
Thanks to Stephan Bacharov from Yo-Ho Hostel and Youth Center for his histrionic presence at the post-presentation table.