Guest post: My best friend’s impressions after Global Citizen volunteering program in Nis, Serbia.

[This post is written by my friend Klaudia, who also participated in Global Citizen program. She shares her experience with you here :)]

My first trip abroad alone in other purpose than just holiday was to Serbia (on Global Citizen program organized by AIESEC student organization – more information about the program here) where I was supposed to work for a non-governmental organization. I didn’t realize back then, overwhelmed with fear, contradictory emotions and tons of uncertainty, that it was the best decision I have ever made.

Leaving Katowice by bus in the middle of the night, I wanted to take my twenty-kilos suitcase on my back and run away as far as my thin body can manage. Or at least run to the nearest local homeless and hide behind his back. After over 20 hours of bus I thought I have everything sorted out in my head… until the driver told me, around 1 am that it’s my stop and time to get off. Even a pain in my back (and ass) wasn’t motivating me to go. We were at the gas station by the highway close to Nis – the city where my voluntary work was supposed to take place.

During the next 20 minutes, sitting on my suitcase by the highway I managed to smoke an exceptionally huge amount of cigarettes (I’d say one cigarette per minute). Luckily, before I ran out of cigarettes and got totally depressed by the fact a car appeared. My buddy came with one of the girls with whom I was supposed to live. (AIESEC organized accommodation at a Serbian family).

My new Serbian family was extremely nice to me, they tried to make everything easier for me. It seemed to me that their ultimate goal is to feed me so well that I come back to Poland at least 50 kilos heavier. That’s why the first sentence I learned in Serbian language was “ni sam gladna” – I’m not hungry, which was the one I used the most often while talking with my Serbian mum (and not only) during all my stay in Nis.
Volim te – I love you
My job at a non-governmental organization began few days after arrival. We were organizing various courses for youth and adults and we were coordinating a project called “one image, one message” supported by “Youth in Action” program. We invited people from many countries to participate in the program (Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Bosnia and Hercegovina). We spent a week together – we slept short, experienced a lot, partied during the night and during the day discussed about tolerance, cross-cultural dialogue, social exclusion. We promoted and presented these issues with photos and comics.





Photos and comics done by participants of the project.
Serbia – it’s a land of rakija and cigarettes, but most of all, it’s a land of the most friendly people I have ever met. Serbia is a “smoky capital of the world” (which doesn’t disturb me, the smoker). I suppose it’s partly because of very low price of cigarettes, lack of rules prohibiting to smoke in public places, or because there are no people who would follow this rule 😀 My first glass of rakija, which I decided to drink at once (c’mon,  I’m Polish!) ended up with an uncontrolled cough and something that felt like a heart attack and a heartburn of my life at once. Generally speaking, raging fire from my stomach up to my throat burning constantly for around 10 minutes. No medicine could ever help this!!

As a sum up, I will write just one word. PEOPLE. You definitely can fall in love with Balkans if you meet so many awesome people. I went there once and I know I want to go back there. It’s a place, where I will feel well and free.

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