Sunce’s ESC volunteer from North Macedonia fell in love with Hajduk and learned the importance of sustainable living


Author: Aleksandra Nikoloska, former ESC volonteer

“The first days I was afraid, I was petrified, then I met these girls and they stood by my side!”

Oh my! Several months have already passed. Although I deliberately, for a long time, and very successfully ignored the already-started writing of this story, reality knocked on the door. I’m at home and it’s time to put all the impressions and knowledge that my ESC volunteer experience has brought me in one place.

An experience that deepened my passion for environmental protection

Volunteering with the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is an experience that makes you a part of a community of young people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, aiming to provide support and create opportunities for active participation and cooperation within the community. Additionally, this period is a time for discovering your own talents and abilities.

I had the opportunity to meet the employees of Sunce, a group of young and enthusiastic women who fiercely fight against plastic pollution, among other issues. This group dedicates its efforts to raising public awareness about the negative consequences of using single-use plastic products and environmental pollution. I have always passionately protected nature and was deeply affected whenever I saw litter on the streets. However, this year, I became very aware of the seriousness of this problem.

Volunteering is a mutually beneficial experience

Through my work on environmental protection projects, educating young people, and participating in clean-up actions, I had the chance to share my knowledge and skills, but also to learn many new things from the employees. Each day was different, but also a true experience of collaboration, teamwork, and creative problem-solving.

I learned the importance of sustainable living and the reasons behind it. The depletion of natural resources is a global challenge that can have negative consequences for the environment, including air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. Therefore, it is important to apply sustainable practices and move towards the responsible use and protection of natural resources to preserve a healthy environment for present and future generations.

My nine life lessons after a year of volunteering

Here are the things I learned, a sort of list of insights after spending a year in Sunce and sunny Split:

  1. Hajduk živi vječno (Hajduk lives forever)—you can see this love everywhere.
  2. The south wind (Jugo) and the north wind (Bura) are the first training. When Jugo blows, stay at home and mentally prepare yourself. Noticing that you’re in a bad mood or have an inexplicable headache? Jugo is to blame!
  3. Dalmatians have an interesting lifestyle. Just pomalo (slowly) is what I needed.
  4. If we want to make changes in our society, we must primarily focus on educating the youngest. They are our future, and impacting their education is the most important strategy for creating a better and more sustainable community.
  5. In Dalmatia, always carry sunglasses and an umbrella because you never know.
  6. I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful mentors who have been very supportive. Thank you for your invaluable guidance.
  7. I have made friends and met people from different cultures and backgrounds who helped me understand diversity and overcome stereotypes. The French, for example, are great, fun friends and are crazy about politics, while not every German is an early bird or will arrive exactly on time.
  8. The boat is not that scary. I survived an entire day on the boat, where I also had a great captain who started the training that day!
  9. If you’re thinking about something, then it’s the perfect time for action. Buy that plane ticket, send that message, and let life be a continuous adventure filled with surprises, challenges, and true moments of joy and learning. Life passes by while we wait for the right moment. Just do it!

The project Solidarity for Green Dalmatia 2022 is funded by the European Union through the European Solidarity Corps program.