Interview with Fotini, the Greek EVS Volunteer Who Works for a Solidarity Shelter

Hi Fotini! I’m glad you accepted to have this interview. Usually, you are more elusive and enigmatic than Thomas Pynchon and De Chirico mixed together! Just to introduce you to us speak briefly and with your usual enthusiasm about yourself: who you are, where are you from and where are you going. 

Ciao Michele! Yes, after your pressure I finally decided to compromise showing respect to my American Idol, Thomas! Ok let’s introduce myself: I am Fotini (or Foto from photosynthesis as you noticed one time) and my surname is Kyrkou (Chirico), this Italian painter born in Greece, but let’s stop the connections! I am from Greece and I am going to the perfect unknown!


I strongly like De Chirico but I didn’t know he was born in Greece. This is ABSOLUTELY amazing. Anyway, if I am not wrong this is your first experience outside Greece. What did push you to apply for a project in a place so close to your country? What expectations did you have at the beginning of your EVS and how do you feel now?

Yes, you are right! Only another one time I left the borders of my country for some holidays! I will explain my situation… but I warn you: It’s a LONG story! Before coming here I didn’t have any specific preference of country. But OK, from the other side I didn’t want to be so close to my country! I don’t wanna seem like I detest Bulgaria or its people but I wanted something more distant, to feel a little free from the entrapment of Balkans.

I know that the people from the other European countries feel the opposite, they want something more alternative! And when I say that I was preferring a distant country, I really mean it. I applied for two projects in India and in the Philippines, and they accepted me in the Philippines. But of course, a little before my departure date they cancelled!

Again the amazing luck of Fotini! But OK, because of that I have still a mother. When I announced I would have come here, her reactions reminded me of some of the heroines from the Greek ancient tragedies. So as you understand, only the word the Philippines it would be enough to send her to the grave!

Anyway, let’s speak seriously now: the place is not so important for me. You can live in the most exotic place and after some time feeling bored. What is important for me is the project, the communication and the connections with people. At the beginning of EVS everything was totally new for me, so try to imagine: first time abroad for a long period, away from my people, living with a flatmate…

All these situations have been a kind of overdose for me and my mind was messier than before! As for my feelings, I think that now I feel really nice. I know that nine months passed, but the adjustment for every person is a different process and I know that I will feel completely adjusted the day in which I will leave this place.

Your volunteering tasks here are about helping and entertaining people who are facing really uncomfortable and unpleasant troubles, like domestic violence. For most of the common people, these are a kind of strictly forbidden topics since not everyone is able to bear the cognitive dissonance between the ordinary, nice life and the terrible unease of some real life-everyday situations. Explain to us what exactly do you do during your working time and what have you learnt from this delicate environment. How you can face properly the potential emotive stress according to your past experiences and to your psychology studies? What stories did impress you the most? 

Yes, I am working in a shelter mainly aimed at victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. My tasks are absolutely free and as you know, people are lost when they have absolute freedom. They need some directions. In the shelter, I tried to suit my hobby – which is the stop motion animation – with the needs of the people in the shelter. Because it’s not so important if you have something in your mind. It must be compatible with the preferences of the others. So we have made some animation movies with their stories.

Except that, we realize some other crafts, we go together for walks, etc. There are days in which we have some things to do and others in which we don’t have anything to do at all. I understand this is because of the peculiar nature of the project. When some people ask about my project and I answer to them, they are telling me with a dramatic tone that this environment must be very difficult for these people and for my psychology because of the tough situations. But when my response is different from the idea they have in their minds, they feel surprised.

Because what I learnt from there is that the people who are coming in the shelter don’t wanna rethink about the bad situations acting dramatically. Of course, they are coming from very dangerous situations, but in the shelter they are decent and they keep good behaviour to the others. They find their safety after the storm! The thing that impressed me the most in a negative way is the fact that domestic violence can happen – or to correct my words can “continue” – in the old ages since I saw some old women coming in the shelter. According to my observations, domestic violence has no limits: can happen to everybody, no matter about the age or the educational and economic level.


You are currently living in Varna in the big suburbs of Vladislavovo. This is pretty far from the city centre and the sea. This means that you live most of your time in isolation with your flatmate and your colleagues. Since you are a big lover of cinema and literature, tell us how much important is keeping bright a spark of creativity and imagination in your actual working place as in your global life. Are you developing a personal project connected with artistic matters or a kind of?  

Yes, I live in the magical-full of horses Vladislavovo! I am trying to keep this spark of creativity inside me. But sometimes – especially when I don’t have so much work in the project – I feel my mind rotten and I need to activate it. You know, it’s logical sometimes to feel some worms in your mind, we are not robots to be activated all the time! Speaking about my personal project, I have many stories in my mind. But I want to get more technical knowledge to move on the creation of stop motion.

Do you have some plans for your after-EVS life? Where would you like to keep tripping in and outside Europe?

After the EVS, I finally would like to fight against the demons of procrastination and finishing my studies. After that, I must get over the volunteer syndrome, finding a job of any nature out of Greece. Speaking about wanderlust, when you are addicted to literature you can travel endlessly. Bringing your mind in places which don’t exist like in a time and space machine.

But if I wanna speak about trips that would put my body in movement, I want to discover Latin America. Maybe because most of my favourite authors came from there – and getting lost in the jungle like Ambrose Bierce!

I perfectly know what do you mean. The demons of procrastination must be originating from the cursed city of Carcosa! Time for a traditional question: please tell us one of the most awkward, funny, weird, surreal or creepy experiences you had in Bulgaria following an atmospheric cinematographical mood.

Yes Michele, let me finish your torture answering to this last original question! I had a big traumatic experience when a woman tried to punch me. I had rung the bell of her apartment at 21:30 in the night by mistake. First, I saw a man coming down from the stairs. I thought “finally someone will allow me to enter the building”… But of course not! He was the angry father of the baby I woke up. As soon as I felt relaxed when the situation ended I suddenly saw one figure of a woman coming to my side like a jaguar. She was looking in my face in the most aggressive way. Luckily she didn’t put out her gun so I survived!

But don’t imagine that Vladislavovo is a boring place… Some nights you can find really strange and surrealistic things, like a drunk man dragging all over the road a drunker woman at 4:00 in the morning. I think that this sick environment would be a source of inspiration for David Lynch!

I agree: a hypothetical “Gipsy Highways” would be a true masterpiece! Thank you, Fotini! According to the unexpected stream of consciousness of your answers, you’re definitely more similar to James Joyce, Italo Svevo and Virginia Woolf than Thomas Pynchon. Really nice and interesting interview, anyway. I wish you the best for your future giving a suggestion: go forward for your life path without waiting for the Tartar army!