Call it magic: volunteer experience in Zagreb 2019

Volunteering is much more than just travelling. Volunteers in Zagreb have a challenging time this year as they were part of EUSA Beach Handball Championship and they will once again show their skills on EUSA Combat Championship. You will recognize them easily - wide smile on their faces, serious work ethics and red cosy shirts. 


We talked to three volunteers from three different countries – Rita from Portugal, Vanja from Serbia and Mihaela from Croatia – and found out what volunteering means to them. 


How we all met
Rita started searching for voluntary programs when she was 15-16 years old. Her first large-scale experience was taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. Last year Rita got a chance to volunteer during the EUSA championship held in Coimbra, Portugal, so she was monitoring the following events and applied for Zagreb 2019 purposefully.


Vanja took part in the European Synchronized Swimming Championship in 2011 as she was doing this sport for about 10 years. So, she wanted to participate in organizing events like this once again.


Mihaela has already taken part in the European Championship of Beach Handball also held in Croatia where she joined the VIP protocol team. She also got involved in the Youth Movement Power project and helped children with special needs during some other event. 

A couple of months ago Mihaela was encouraged by her friend to attend Zagreb 2019 competition.


Confronting challenges
Rita is a part of the IT team and is responsible for registering results and putting them down with the help of special programs — the work requires a high level of accuracy. Rita was puzzled at first with the Beach Handball rules as she had never immersed herself in this topic.


Vanja joined the media team. Every day she should write an exciting story about the competition and catch some emotional moments with a camera. She’s been studying journalism only for a year now, so it’s not very easy to make interviews and compose stories in English – not a native language for Vanja.


Mihaela was an attaché of the team from Cyprus and she was always ready to help them. By the way, it was her initiative to organize a small tour around Zagreb for them. However, not all members of the team speak English well. That’s why Mihaela needed to find ways of building communication that is clear for everyone.

The difference between your native city and Zagreb

Rita is studying in Lisbon and it’s a little more dynamic there: the traffic is heavy and people “are always dancing”.

For Vanja Serbia and Croatia are very similar countries: friendly people and the same food.

Mihaela spent her childhood in Križevci — a small silent town compared to Zagreb. The main difference she noticed is that it’s calmer in her place of birth.


Zagreb 2019 in one word
Rita: Learning. I’ve found out more about Croatian way of life 
Vanja: Friendship. I met new friends from different countries.
Mihaela: Fun. I met very nice new people, and we like to hang out. I’m not sure the explanations are useful here, maybe should keep only the words


Advice for future volunteers
Rita: Be open-minded and don’t be afraid.
Vanja: Apply for volunteer programs, build new friendships and keep learning.
Mihaela: Be yourself and have fun.

Don’t hesitate. Start searching for volunteer programs right now. Get a multicultural experience that will change your life. Let the adventure begin.


 Yulia Kovalenko