26 February 2009

Another way to recycle shopping bags...

Random Days are the Best...

I generally enjoy my lifestyle as a volunteer here in Budapest, but sometimes I just love it. This winter I have been a bit disappointed by the snowfall in BP, as it never lasted more than a day and was never deeper than ¼ inch (no doubt because I live downtown with lots of hot car exhaust, etc). Last Saturday I went up to one of the parks in the Buda hills, called Normafa, with a Hungarian friend, Eszter, to walk around, and the snow was MUCH deeper there (8-10 inches). I thought about sledding, but did not have a sled. We had the idea of taking thick plastic bags to sled on, but forgot those.

When we arrived in Normafa, the park was full and festive, parents pulling children along on wooden toboggans, young people standing in clusters drinking hot wine and eating turo retes (a pastry with cheese in it), and many many children, adults, teenagers sledding down the hills on everything from small plastic discs to skis and snowboards. I went to practice my Hungarian and asked someone in a group where they purchased their discs; I really wanted to go sledding but did not want to buy a sled (and at least those round discs looked cheap). One man told us that he got his at Tesco, and Eszter and I were discussing whether or not we thought it was worth it to leave and purchase one (neither of us wanted to spend the money or make the trip). This man must have overheard our conversation and later offered to let us use a broken plastic sled that he had.

I proceeded to take the sled and immediately sledded down the slope right in front of us. It was perhaps the steepest slope there and I was soon rolling around to stop and covered in snow head to foot. It was brilliant. And then they let us keep the sled! J

So, Eszter and I now had a broken sled! We spent the rest of the day sledding down the slopes of Normafa. It was absolutely amazing, from this hill, or “little Hungarian mountain”, you have a view of Budapest throughout the entire slope, and you are also surrounded by other hills, trees, fresh unpolluted air, etc. And the slope was amazing; hill after hill after hill (along with the obstacles of other sledders along the way J). As soon as you reached what appeared to be the edge of one slope, you could then continue and go down the next. We had a lot of fun with this broken plastic sled.

And then, as we were walking back up (and up and up J), we found a think plastic shopping bag someone had left behind and proceeded to see if we could sled with it. It was even better than the sled (less painful on the tailbone). Wet, tired, and elated, we went to the grocery store to get supplies to make spinat fűzelík (a Hungarian spinach crème soup) and to buy some thick plastic bags. The look on the cashier’s face as Eszter was checking the texture of the bag (for smoothness and thickness) was priceless. We were planning to go sledding again the next day, Sunday, already. J

We spent Sunday afternoon and evening sledding around on shopping bags with more friends, and watched the sunset and the lights come on in BP, etc. Many kids had headlamps to continue sledding after dark. I am hoping the snow won’t melt before next Saturday…

…Another random funny note: When I went to the store to buy batteries for my camera to photograph our sledding adventure, I accidentally asked for “a life” instead (I said élet instead of elem). J

18 February 2009

Volunteering in Germany

Here are three of the seven project openings we have listed for Germany. For more info, please see the contact details in the 2 previous blog entries.

612. Tecklenburg, Germany

BVS placements are available at some of the many L'Arche communities in Europe. L’Arche invites Assistants to come and share life with people with intellectual disabilities – building a community where everyone is valued regardless of ability, creed or culture. The Tecklenburg community in northwest Germany has three houses. Requirements: 21 years old; open to living with people of varying abilities in a community where God is recognized as the source of life and difference is seen as a gift; accepting of people of different cultures, social origins, and practices; driver's license helpful but not essential. www.arche-deutschland.de

1131. Minden, Germany

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation IFOR - is an organization of people believing in non-violence as a lifestyle and as a method of personal, political, and social change. The German branch of IFOR - Internationaler Versoehnungsbund, Deutscher Zweig – would like to give young interested people the opportunity to learn about peace work in Germany and seeks an International Volunteer to work in the national office in Minden. Duties include assistance in, preparation of, and participation in the annual conference, board meetings, summer camps, youth gatherings and other events, as well as support of projects and campaigns. Requirements: Nonviolent convictions; ability to work in a team as well as alone; basic computer skills/knowledge (at least Word, and Excel and/or graphics programs welcomed); prior knowledge of spoken and written German would be helpful, but not essential - if the volunteer is willing and motivated to learn the language at the start of term; communication skills; flexibility, initiative and creativity. Experience in public relations and/or event planning useful. www.versoehnungsbund.de

1822. Bonn, Germany

Germanwatch, a non-profit north-south initiative engaged in directing German political policy towards sustainability (motto: "to change the north so that the south can survive"), striving for a political framework to combat global warming, for a fair world trading regime, and increased socially responsible investment, seeks a Program Assistant. The main field of work would be in the global warming program (climate responsibility campaign). Duties include co-organizing campaign events and expert meetings, writing/translating/correcting English texts, and daily routine office work. Depending on skills, additional duties are possible. Requirements: College degree or higher, good knowledge of German and willingness to improve, good command of written English, computer skills, willingness to do routine office work about one-third of the time, ability to work independently and in a team. Strong interest in (and good basic knowledge of) at least one of the following topics: global warming, global governance, north-south politics, WTO, financial markets. www.germanwatch.org

16 February 2009

Volunteering in Budapest

Here's another BVS project opening in the summer of 2009.
For more information, please contact me at brethrenservice@worldcom.ch or www.brethrenvolunteerservice.org.

1100.7 Budapest, Hungary

The Europe Region of the World Student Christian Federation, a global fellowship of Christian students committed to dialogue, ecumenism, social justice and peace, seeks a Publications Intern/Office Assistant to work in the Regional Office. Tasks include: editing texts for the region's publications, managing subscriptions, advertisements and distribution, assisting in office administration and in the organisation of WSCF conferences, cooperation with the Lingua Franca language and leadership training program and participation in WSCF events as able. As all activities are international in scope, the working language of the project is English. Requirements: native English speaker, previous experience in journalism or writing/editing strongly preferred, knowledge of or interest in ecumenical issues and questions of inter-church and inter-faith relationships, active involvement in church structures strongly preferred, B.A. or equivalent, basic computer literacy, outstanding organizational skills, ability to work independently with minimal supervision, age 21-30, willingness to travel.

09 February 2009

Volunteer Openings in Northern Ireland

I'll be listing a few of the upcoming project site openings. Today's selections are two placements in Northern Ireland, open in summer 2009. You can find more information about the BVS process from www.brethrenvolunteerservice.org, or more details about these projects from me at brethrenservice@worldcom.ch... Both are open for either one year, or two years.

210. Belfast, Northern Ireland

Forthspring Inter Community Group, a local inter-community partnership located along the "peace wall" in West Belfast, seeks a Youth and Children’s Programs Volunteer for assisting in the planning and implementation of programs for children and young people, in the afterschools and youth programs which include center based and detached youth work. The project aims to create a safe and friendly environment where children and youth can grow as individuals and build relationships across the neighborhood's divisions. Requirements: Flexibility, compassion, patience, enthusiasm, creativity, enjoy working with youth and children. Good social skills essential. Commitment to reconciliation work. Preferred experience: degree in teaching, physical or outdoor education, or social work. Experience working with inner-city children and young people. Skills in art, crafts, music, sports, outdoor activities; good group work skills would be valuable. www.forthspring.org.uk


1137. Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Kilcranny House is a peace and reconciliation center and farm situated in a beautiful rural location on the edge of Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Our mission is “working for peace between people and between people and the earth.” The project seeks a committed Volunteer. Duties include general house and maintenance work, hosting visiting groups, animal care, organic gardening, working with schools, youth groups and others. Requirements: Volunteers should be flexible, responsible, good humored, patient, self-sufficient and resourceful. They need to have good communication skills, enjoy people, have group work skills and like outdoor work. An interest in peace and nonviolence and an open and non-judgmental attitude towards the ongoing political process in Northern Ireland is essential. www.kilcrannyhouse.org