I ended up in Latinovac by accident: I was already looking for volunteering opportunities in the Balkans and wanted to leave Lithuania as soon as possible, then one day I jumped into an advertisement on Facebook that brought me to Croatia. Now after 5 months my EVS is over and I’m trying to answer myself a question, what did I learn there.
One of my goals as always was to travel around a bit and I spent almost one out of those five months travelling. I visited Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. Apart from that, I volunteered in a refugee camp, which was one best experiences I had in Croatia. I find Balkans really interesting region with alive history, occasional tensions and beautiful nature. And Croatia will always be the place, where I would like to come back. Volim Hrvatsku!
As one wise man told me, Latinovac has lost its direction and has to redefine it. Sometimes I doubt, if there ever was a direction. Terms like permaculture or ecology that were often linked with this project, in my opinion, didn’t fit here at all.
Our daily tasks consisted of physical work usually, which I liked most of the times. Unfortunately, we did a lot of meaningless tasks and spend too much time helping to one villager. He was a good guy, but the things we did in his property weren’t even close to a volunteering as I understand it. Other mates also felt the same.
Second example, we spent many days in the forest chopping sticks and making a fence for a Fall fest that we held. Those fences were used only for 10 minutes during the fest and after it they were taken by one of the villagers.
A place called Ekocentar immediately brings a lot of expectations. We had some land and a big territory, but we used it only for hanging around and eating. So why the hell it is called Ekocentar, if there is nothing eko there.
Not everything was disappointing. I had some great time learning African drumming, painting roof tiles and learning about permaculture. Croatian lessons that are obligatory for volunteers were not very challenging as teacher wasn’t motivated to teach us and didn’t put any effort to prepare for the lessons. Fortunately, Lauma and Mafalda gave some Latvian and French lessons that were much more interactive.
I had some great time, doing presentations in schools about EVS, giving interviews for media and radio, organising team building games and taking an interview myself.
There is a trivial truth about life that every day you learn something new. But when we are talking about specific knowledge, I didn’t learn a lot in Latinovac. My sending organization was emphasizing that primary goal in EVS is learning. Well, looks like my expectations were too high.
Summer was really beautiful in Latinovac. We spent numerous nights lying somewhere in the fields and looking at the stars, stealing fruits from nearby gardens or going for a walk. During the Straw fest we had some visitors from few other countries (my favourite two were from Lithuania) that also brought some new energy.
If the project would have lasted not more than three months probably this post would be more positive. In the autumn, I really got bored and things that were annoying me took over the things that were acceptable. I was tired to see the same people every day and do a lot of stupid tasks that didn’t lead us anywhere. It was getting dark earlier and earlier which also changed our leisure time significantly.
It’s not easy to answer to the question, whether I would come to Latinovac, if I could change the past. I would like to end with a cheerful tone and say yes. Even though, there is some bitter taste in my mouth, then I write this.