As mentioned I am not the only volunteer here, so allow me to make some introductions. These are the people who I will be sharing this experience with.
Alessio Ghelardini – the Italian – 23 years old, from Pistoia, near Firenze (Florence), where he lives in a 14th century mansion, and we have learnt he may have other houses dotted around. Currently studying Political Science, and, like all Italians, is a great philosopher.
Irena Cvetikj – the Macedonian – 23 years old, from Veles. A big character, and very proud of her Macedonian roots, a lot of things may end up being done in the Macedonian way this year. A linguist, so will often be used as translator and interpreter.
Monika Nisavic – the Montenegrin – 23 years old, from Podgorica. A fighter, and fitness enthusiast, and once she starts training she will quit smoking (or the other way around), but be careful what you say or she will kill you. A recent graduate of Political Science, with aims to become a politician.
We will be living together, in an apartment in Buje, and working together at the LDA for the 11 months of our EVS, so will be spending a lot of time together, with all the consequences that will bring.
Umberto Ademollo – the boss – another Italian, the president of the agency since he founded it in 1996. Hails from Tuscany, but has integrated well with the Croatian population by learning at least 3 phrases in 17 years. Also speaks no English, so I am waiting for a time when we may be able to have a conversation.
Elena Bernich – the mentor – an Istrian. Very adept at holding conversations in 3 different languages at once. Will be responsible for looking after us volunteers, finding work for us to do and introducing us to local institutions that we can collaborate with.
Nina Kapel – the project manager – an Istrian. Was responsible for writing the EVS project, and was my contact before coming here, but will have less of a day-to-day role in what we do, although she will be our Italian and Croatian language teacher.
Extended EVS family:
We met a group of other EVS volunteers, who are also here in Croatia, at our ‘on-arrival training’ (more about that later). These are people with whom we will broaden our experience as we will all get to play host, be travelling companions, give advice, and share stories and memories with each other over the time of our service.
There will be other people I meet along the way, some of whom will have a big part, some small, but, for now, these are the most important people in my story.