Meet Our New ESC Volunteers at Association Sunce

Association Sunce started the new year with new members joining our team as volunteers of the European Solidarity Corps – Zorica Azmanova and Mile Krstev, who will stay here over the course of this year. We present them to you through this interview.

M: I am Mile Krstev, 23 years old, and I come from Macedonia (although I have not lived there in the past eight years). Not so long ago I finished my degree in environmental engineering in Boston, after which I returned to Europe. I love travelling (using Couchsurfing), reading Wikipedia, and learning foreign languages. My latest challenge has been picking up the local dialect in Split. 😊

Z: I am Zorica Azmanova and I come from Macedonia. I am 24 years old and by profession I am a marketing manager. I always felt connected with nature, so I started hiking with the intention to see and experience novel places. The feeling you get when you reach a mountain peak and you look at the horizon in front of you is something indescribable. That feeling is further intensified if you bring a telescope as you become embraced by the universe with each gaze at the star-filled sky. But now, back to Earth! Just like Mile, I love travelling, and I also like cooking and experimenting with different recipes – both conventional ones and others less so. I am somewhat obsessed with a healthy diet, and therefore I try to incorporate as much healthy food as possible into every meal. I hope that by the end of the project I will learn to prepare some dishes typical of Dalmatian cuisine.

Q: Why did you sign up to take part in this project?

M: After my studies I wanted to come back to Europe, which I ended up doing. At the same time, I was looking for opportunities to apply my knowledge and skills from environmental engineering in a more local context. While I was studying, I was working as a youth educator – both in formal and nonformal education. When I read about the projects that Association Sunce works on, I realised that your work combines many of my interests and values. Thus, I decided to join.

Z: In the near future I plan to start a social enterprise. I believe that by taking part in activities, projects, and workshops at Association Sunce, I will acquire new experiences that will bring me closer to my goal.

Q: Why did you end up choosing Split (and Croatia) for your projects?

M: As I mentioned in my previous answer, my goal for this year was to be somewhere closer to home. Not only because I have lived abroad for a while by now, but also because I wanted to explore how I could contribute to sustainable development and a cleaner environment in the same place where I grew up. Croatia sounded appealing as a potential destination because it is historically and regionally connected to Macedonia while also being a member of the European Union and working on the implementation of a series of EU regulations concerning sustainable development. I am convinced that what I end up learning here will be of use in Macedonia in the future, provided I end up working in the same field. So, I ended up coming to Split because Association Sunce is based there, and I also wanted warmer weather (after several winters in Boston with the “polar vortices” over there).

Z: I was looking for a credible organisation which acts upon and solves societal problems while at the same time wanting a flexible and creative job. I have found all of this at Association Sunce. Lucky me!

 Q: What were your first impressions of Split?

M: This is my second time coming to Split. The first time, I came here as a tourist in summer. The city was flooded with people back then. Now I was fearing that the city would be “dead” because of the winter. However, I have come to realise that there are many cultural events happening (currently Advent for e.g.), so I am starting to feel more at home with each day spent here. And of course, the view from the office is indescribable, so all it takes whenever I need to rest my eyes is turning around and enjoying the sea view.

Z: Clean air, people that are environmentally aware, beautiful sunsets, and very tasty local food.

Q: Do you have a message to share with young people who are considering taking part in Erasmus+ activities?

M: The first time when I experienced the benefits of Erasmus+ was during my gap year after I finished high school. So far, I have participated in several youth exchanges and training courses. I had the chance to meet many people from all over Europe who were eager to exchange opinions and make changes in their own communities. Most important of all to me is that Erasmus+ contributes to reducing inequalities among youth across the continent. And ESC programs offer an opportunity to dedicate yourselves to personal and societal development at the same time. If you are ready to face new challenges while educating yourselves through nonformal educational means at the same time, Erasmus+ and ESC have a lot to offer you! It isn’t only student exchanges that are part of Erasmus+. There is a lot more to it – check it out!

Z: Just do it! International experiences acquired by studying, volunteering, or working abroad will boost your self-confidence and enrich your life. On top of that, you will end up with useful skills and an advantage at the increasingly competitive global job market.

Q: What do you miss most from Macedonia?

M: Ajvar. What I have found in the supermarkets here would be best classified as “ajvar-wanna-be”.

Z: I am not a nostalgic person and I adapt easily to new environments, but I have to admit that I miss Hugo (my dog).