From Italy to Slovakia
I arrived in the village of Sverzov on the 7th August 2017 after a very long bus travel through Europe and Slovakia. Watching through the glass of my buses and trains, since the first day, i was impressed by the wonderful landscape, made of high hills and thin trees, houses with a sloping roof and uncontaminated nature.
On the first day of my job i was quite lucky, because Marian and Yarka decided to bring the children on a trip in Bardejov, to the swimming pool. It was a beautiful day to know the roma children i would work with. They surprised me for their spontaneity vivacity: since the first time they asked me a lot of questions to know me and they started to teach me the slovak language teaching me colors and numbers since that first day.
The first days were hard, i admit: i had to get used to my new life and to my new job: working with children isn’t easy, you must have a lot of patience and energy.
My schedules were 9-12 in the morning and 13-16 in the afternoon. Particularly, in the morning the pre-school children come to the centre, kids of 5-6 years old, instead the older children (from 12 to 16 years old) come in the afternoon. About the little children, going in the community centre is very important because there they learn not just the Slovak language, but even the good manners and how to have a good behavior with the other people. We teach them the colors, numbers, how to write geometric shapes and we play with them with the many toys that are in the centre. Despite these children are no more than 5-6, it’s very hard to manage them, because they are so hyperactive and lively!
In the afternoon the atmosphere is more chaotic and funny, because the older children are more than the young ones, between 10 and 15, and because some of them like playing guitars, sometimes piano and all of them love singing and dancing. They learned playing roma songs from some girls from a near village that once a week come in the centre teaching music to the children. They really love music, and they also formed a kind of band that play these songs for people, in some free concerts: we went to a retirement home where they played for seniors, they really enjoyed it. Another time we went in Kojatize, where they played for roma children in their community centre. Also one time they played in the Sverzov’s culturny dom for seniors.
Children that come in the afternoon speak very little english, and sometimes I teach them something, improvising a lesson in the centre. When the weather is sunny, we go to the football camp near the centre where we play football or volleyball.
Life in Sverzov is quiet, and I prefer this kind of life rather than life in the town. Everything is so close to my house! In just one minute by walking I can reach the community centre, the mini-market (potraviny) and the bus stop. In the village there is also a bar, that is open every evening, where I go sometimes to enjoy a beer.
Despite Sverzov is a little village, it is actually very alive. You can always meet someone while you are walking through the three Sverzov’s streets, sometimes the centre is full of people, working and planning activities or events for the local community. It happened three or four times, during my EVS period, that in the Culturny Dom had been organized parties or events. For example, last September there was the “Miss”, a competition between the girls who attend the centre, girls of 10-12 years old, that singed and danced doing choreography that they prepared before with the help of Yarka. The ladies changed their dresses more times during the representation and they sang songs like “Despacito”. At the end of the competition, three judges voted and choose the winne, this year the winner was Misha, that received the crown from Sabina, the last year’s winner.
The Culturny dom is a very used place where are often organized parties for the local community. One time, it had been organized a party for the senior’s association: there were about 100 people sitting in the culturny dom’s main area enjoying a lunch all together with the typical meals of their villages. So everyone could try so many meals settled on a buffet table: there was gulash, different salads, potatoes cooked in many different ways, many different kind of meat and cheese, and many more things! Everything was delicious, and everyone had good time eating and enjoying some shows, like our children that played and sang typical songs with the help of the women that usually play with the children, listening poems recited from the elementary school children or songs sang by the senior organization’s women and typical slovak songs sang by a group of men from sverzov, dressed with typical slovak clothes.
After a couple of months I started to do free english lessons for the local community. I started teaching English to my colleague Marian and Natalia, a 16 years old girl from Sverzov. After about one month, other people started to come to my lessons, so I decided to divide my students in two groups. I really like to have these English lessons because in this way my contribution to the local community is more important and funny. My lessons are about many topics: grammar, weather, food, time, but also reading English books, watching videos and doing conversation. I can see how my students improve their English and this is a huge satisfaction for me, but so do I improve my English and my Slovak.
Christmas time here is started at the beginning of December: it is a very important event for the local community. Saint Migulas brought presents to the elementary school’s children on 8th December while the Devil was assaulting the bad children. During the Christmas period there was always a lot of people in the centre and we were very busy: we prepared wreaths and soap to sell for charity. I have personally gone along the river many times to collect the branches to prepare the wreaths. We organized a Christmas dinner with the older children and with the girls from Snakov: we celebrated with fish, salad, polieuka and candies; and after dinner we sang all together Christmas songs. At the end of the dinner, two Snakov’s girls did something like a rite: everybody was in a circle, singing and playing, while the two girls took place at the right and at the left of each person in the cirlce, they put their hands on the shouldiers of the person and, with the eyes closed, they recited a pray in roma language. I think it was a kind of protection-pray. The major invited me to spend the Christmas evening at his home, with his family. I was very happy because I could spend the Christmas in family and taste the typical slovak Christmas dishes, like fried fish, kapustnica, and typical sweets. I really enjoyed the fact that the dinner started with a shot of rum, and ended with a shot of rum!
Paolo “Trips” Tritto