Meet Sofia and Ivana, new volunteers of the European Solidarity Corps

In November 2020, the Association Sunce Split received reinforcements. We were joined by two European Solidarity Corps volunteers on the project “Solidarity for Green Dalmatia 2020” – Sofija Stojmenović and Ivana Panovska, who we present in a conversation below. Both will be supporting our team next year.

SS: Hello! My name is Sofija Stojmenović, I come from Skopje and I am a student at the Faculty of Chemistry and Technology. Before choosing high school I was not so aware of the environment and the idea of educating environmental technologists came while getting acquainted with the schools that were available in my area. Later, thanks to the good material and the efforts of the professor, I continued my university education at the Faculty of Chemistry and Technology (majoring in inorganic engineering and environmental protection). In my free time, I contribute to environmental protection by composting, managing household waste, and I also have a garden with several crops that are the fruit of the aforementioned composting. As a volunteer, I have already participated in various programs.

IP: Hello 😊 My name is Ivana Panovska and I come from Skopje. I am 23 years old and I am a student at the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy (design engineer) at the University of Cyril and Methodius. I am a passionate art lover, I like to draw and paint with different techniques and colors, but also in programs (pencil, acrylic, ink, digital painting – Adobe Illustrator). I love working with children and young people, so I worked as an animator in the playroom where children’s birthdays were held. I also practiced martial arts and Muay Thai for two years. I enjoy cycling and running, and I love animals.

What motivated you to apply for the ESC program?
SS: I applied for this project, because the Association Sunce deals with a topic that I want to work on later, after returning to Skopje, and maybe I will found an association myself. Sunce as an organization recognizes today’s problems from an environmental point of view. I can learn a lot from you and transfer some of the acquired knowledge to Macedonia.
IP: I applied because I would like to strengthen and gain experience in the field of international education. I would like to be part of a team that brings together wonderful people who are fighting to change and spread a very important message in the world: LET’S PROTECT MOTHER EARTH!

Why did you decide to go to Split as part of the ESC program?
SS: I chose Split because it is located on the Adriatic where the climate is warm like people, and also because I feel at home. Split is a city that is rapidly improving by looking at various fields, such as infrastructure, clean environment, citizen discipline.
IP: For a start, I would like to say that I am in Split for the first time and I think that the city is the best possible destination for this type of volunteering. I think a lot of people in Split know how to preserve and protect nature and the environment. In addition, as a big fan of the Game of Thrones, I can’t wait to visit the Game of Thrones Museum, as well as the locations where some episodes were filmed.

What are your first impressions of Split?
SS: Urban, neat, pleasant people, wide horizon, pleasant and intoxicating smell of the sea. I can count up to a thousand pages that I am fascinated by it… I can walk around the city alone for hours and feel at home.
IP: Split is a very beautiful and pleasant city of beautiful architecture, clean air, beautiful sunsets, beaches, fascinating nature and of course, very tasty local food.

Is there anything you’d like to say to all the young people who are thinking about joining the European Solidarity Corps?
SS: The only message I have is to follow your intuition, because it never lies. Don’t doubt yourself and just do it if you really want to. There is a suitable program for everyone that offers plenty of lessons, adventures and experiences.
IP: Hey, don’t think too much. If you want to travel, meet new people, learn new things and protect the environment, take the opportunity and take risks. Each of us has a purpose in the world. Find yours!

What is it about Macedonia that you miss the most?

SS: With today’s technology, I am in touch with Macedonia, more precisely with Skopje. I know what’s going on there and I feel like a witness to it all, because the Internet offers us all the information in the palm of our hand. Society and family are virtually with me, the only thing I miss is my puppy Ella. I know they take care of her, but it’s different when she’s next to me.
IP: I miss my mother, sister and my cat Mia, but I have to admit that I easily fit into the new environment. I would like to make the most of this period to stay in Split, work and travel, as much as I can.