Our Small Family is Getting Bigger and Bigger – Meet Miranda From Cyprus

Miranda is a 26 years old volunteer from Cyprus who came to Bulgaria in February. She is here already for a few months and helps in Младежки дом together with Sonia (you could read about her experience last time). They already have a new helper there, the new volunteer from Germany – Saskia (you will probably hear about her soon ;)). As you can notice, our small family is getting bigger and bigger! 

Младежки дом -The Youth Centre of Varna, where Miranda does her EVS.

Miranda, why did you decide to do your EVS in Bulgaria?

I chose my EVS primarily because of the project, but coming from the South part of Europe, having lived in the West, it was about time to explore the East. To discover and enjoy all that the Eastern European culture has to offer! And…living by the sea is always a great advantage, if not the greatest 😉

What attracted you the most in the project you chose?

I really liked the fact that I would volunteer and live for 10 months in the European Youth Capital. I felt that it perfectly combines some of my biggest interests such as youth work or European projects and my educational background, which is Business Administration and entrepreneurship. Working with other volunteers, organizing and participating in different youth events, as well as, an art and music youth festival (Funcity+), convinced me to apply for this position.

How do you see it now, after a few months?

It is quite different from what I expected. I passed through different stages of adaptation and re-adapted my expectations. Now, I really love my time here and what I am involved in. For example, I expected to have more clearly defined tasks when I arrived but realized that I have to take the initiative myself, which turned out to be not bad at all.

What do you think about Varna being European Youth Capital 2017?

I think it is a great opportunity to spread awareness about the city on a European level. To take advantage of the funds provided to make the city more youth-friendly. To motivate the local youth to innovate their city’s and their own future by realising their ideas and dreams. As I aforementioned, for me as well, it is great to live in the youth capital and to have an opportunity to be involved in various youth events, get in touch with people from here, as well as, from other European cities.

You are part of an organization in Cyprus, similar to the Association FOR YOU, what are differences and similarities between them? 

My sending organization, Youth for Exchange and Understanding (YEU) Cyprus is one of the biggest youth NGOs in Cyprus and I can spot certain similarities it has with Association FOR YOU. For instance, both organisations are NGOs that work with youth and engage in multicultural environments. Furthermore, just like Association FOR YOU, YEU hosts EVS volunteers (currently for a project called “The Happiness Project”). They are both involved in different youth initiatives on a local, as well as, on a European level (like youth exchanges, training courses, seminars, the organization of various intercultural events, and more).

On the other hand, a difference that I can spot between the two associations, is that YEU works mainly with local youth (targeting youth of all backgrounds and interests) – recently working a lot using the structured dialogue methodology, in an effort to shape youth policy in Cyprus, whereas Association FOR YOU, I believe, focuses more on working with youth with fewer opportunities, doing different workshops with them, etc. My role in each organization is also quite different. In YEU, I have been a board member and treasurer since 2014, whereas I am an EVS volunteer at Association FOR YOU (being my coordinating organization) for this year. In general, I believe that Varna EYC Association (my hosting organization) engages in more similar activities, to those of YEU Cyprus. All in all, I truly enjoy being an active part of all of these organisations.

What have you learned during your EVS so far?

On a personal level, I am discovering and developing different sides of myself. For instance, I am enhancing, even more, my flexibility and adaptability skills, as well as my improvisation skills, as sometimes there are last-minute tasks or changes of plans. But this usually leads to interesting, INNOVATIVE results 😉 I have also learnt to work in a team where the working language is predominantly Bulgarian and to survive somehow. What is more, I am continuously learning about the Bulgarian culture and language and being fascinated by all the similarities (mostly) and differences with my own, as well as, other cultures I have the chance to experience here.

What do you think about Varna?

In my eyes, Varna is a very beautiful city with different things to see and do. For example enjoy a drink or some mussels by the sea, take a long walk in the beautiful, green, sea garden, and more. It is the third biggest city in Bulgaria but to me, it already feels quite small and familiar. However, I feel that it is, somehow, underappreciated by the rest of Europe. This should change as it is a very beautiful place that one can enjoy at very affordable prices.

What do you like most in Bulgaria?

There are three things I like most. The easygoing “няма проблем” lifestyle and the flexibility that is present in almost all situations. And finally, the very cheap prices, which make the whole experience very affordable and even more enjoyable.

What do you dislike most in Bulgaria?

Well…for the moment, the highly unstable and unpredictable weather! On a more serious note, I have realized that some of the local youth are quite demotivated and disappointed with the way their country’s whole system works, and so they stop believing in change or lose their desire to be active and involved in their city’s initiatives.

What have you been doing before coming to Bulgaria and what do you plan to do after your project? 

Before coming here, I had a full-time job at my University in Consulting. It was about assisting in the development of business plans for various projects from different University departments, in order to apply for European Funding. When it comes to my after EVS plans… I have no clear plan yet… You may ask this question again, in 6 months :p. Maybe I will be back in Cyprus looking for a job… Maybe I will be volunteering in South America or who knows? Maybe I will be in Varna starting my own business 😀

About starting a business, I am sure it may refer to it as well: Every artist was first an amateur. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Who knows him? I did not. He was an American essayist and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid 19th century. But I think it is enough information for today. Have a nice day guys!