EVS project “Be active and creative”

I arrived in Ropazi in October 11th, Wednesday, with a Baltic Air flight from Milano Malpensa. During the first 2 weeks I spent my time just settling in my new life. So I met the people with whom I would work and also I visited all the multifunctional centers of Ropazu Novads. I applied for a Latvian identity card and SIM card for my mobile phone. In the end of the month I partecipated with my roommate, Tamara Fernandez Gonzales, and our mentors, Martins Svitka and Valentina Svotska at On Arrival Training provided, with other EVS volunteers in Latvia. During those days we learnt something more about our duties and goals, unformal education and volunteering. From November our project really started.


Tamara and I (from now on, “we”) started our Latvian language lessons with Anna, twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 to 11 o’clock, in the Ropazi library. We received a grammar book and particular papers for studying. We had to create a presentation about ourself and our homelands for youngsters in Ropazi and Zakumuiza schools. To explain this stuff I created a game called: “Who wants to be Italian?”, made with a powerpoint animation, based on the famous TV show “Who wants to be a millionaire?”; this game proposed some questions about Italy. The students, divided in teams, had to guess the right answers. After every question, my job was to comment a little bit the topic the question was talkin’ about. This presentation was directed to students from 10 to 18 years old. Almost every Thursday we help Ilvars Ievins (our referent) during his archery lab with children (8 – 11 years old) in Ropazi school. We started to visit periodically the multifunctional centers of Tumsupe, Silakroogs, Kakciems and Mucenieki. In Tumsupe we were doing games with little children (6 – 10 years old). In Silakroogs we were doing kitchen lab with old people: one we cooked a Spanish dish, “Tortilla de patata”. The activity was ruled by Tamara. In Kakciems we spent time with teenagers (11 – 14 years old), doing games and unformal education activities to know better each other (“Draw and like” activity). In Mucienieki we did the same activity and also kitchen lab. Once we prepared “Pasta all’amatriciana”, typical Italian dish. In the same site we organized an “Art and craft” afternoon with the children from Refugees Center. This workshop was about Christmas: we prepared a Christmas tree with toilet paper tube and bristol cardboards. I joined the local floorball team, coached by Martins, for keeping fir and making friends with the local youngsters. We have trainments twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday. Since October, we are helping Martins and Ilvars to lead the weekly “Youth Evening”, every Friday. In these occasions we organize games and make relations with the youngsters. On November the 21st, we participated in a team-building day with an expert and some teenagers of Ropazu Novads. Goal of the day was to create a team work for organizing in future events for youngsters. During this day my team (composed by Tamara, Martins and me) proposed a project for the summer, called “EuRopazi”, an European festival. From the end of the month the Art and Creative team work of Ropazi started to organize Christmas Festival.


First, we presented ourselves to Ropazu Novads Coucils and Municipality workers. We created a powerpoint animation about Italy and Spain and we did a little game similar to the one we did with the students. During this month we continued our activities in multifunctional centers, especially in Tumsupe and Mucenieki, because these are the most crowded. In particular, we had a Christmas workshop and games evening in both of them, with the help of Ilvars. During these occasions our goal was not simply having fun and entertaining, but creating a team spirit between all the teenagers form the different parts of Ropazu Novads. In the first day of Advent, I sang with Ilvars’ family some Christmas songs during the Opening Lighting Tree Event in Ropazi. I also spoke a little bit about myself and my volunteer activity to the audience. On December 12th and 19th, we started a project in Ropazi and Zakumuiza schools: Italian and Spanish lessons for students. These lessons took place on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. With the Active and Creative team, we organized the Christmas Festival. It was settled in Zakumuiza Youth Club on December 22nd. For this event we prepared a quiz game about Christmas and helped the other people with the decorations and all the organizing part.


From 3rd to 6th we joined the Christian camp “Merki” in Norkalni. It was ruled by Ilvars and Martins. We helped the staff in game activities. Since January 12th, I started my own project “Riga Continua” (you can find the link in the comments), an Italian podcast in wich I talk about Latvia. For every episode I treat one particulat theme: the main goal is sharing my knowledge experience about Latvian culture with Italian people. For the editing and sharing part I use Audacity pc programme and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Istagram, Mixcloud). To build a youngsters community in Ropazi, I thought about this “Ropazi Cup”, a monthly competition between different teams (formed by teenagers). Once in a month there will be a game day where we, all together, play a big game organized by us, with the help of Martins and Ilvars. The project started in February. I started my Italian lessons project in Zakumuiza and Ropazi schools. In these lessons I talk about Italian regions, culture and language, using powerpoint animation, youtube videos and my personal skills.


In this month we started, on the 2nd, the “Ropazi Cup”, organizing and playing a live-action version of the famous board game “Clue”. Kids enjoyed the game and we are trustful for the next times. I continued my Italian lessons with the youngsters of Ropazi High School; unfortunately in Zakumuiza school the project ended because there were no people interested. So we started to do lessons twice a week in Ropazi, on Wednesday and Thursday. The kids who are partecipating are in total 10. By myself I started doing Italian language and culture lessons with the adults of Ropazi, in the public library. At the moment 7 people have joined the initiative. Me and Tamara continued our job in multifunctional centers: we organized Youth Evening also in Mucenieki, Tumsupe and Kakciems. We are quite satisfied about the result, especially in Kakciems, a place that usually is not so crowded and were the youngsters are not so involved with this kind of activities. On 19th February we also started together Russian language class, with Elena Suveizda, a local teacher. I continued my podcast project about Latvia. I improved it creating new profiles on Spreaker, Telegram and iTunes, investing 6 euros per month to have a better sharing. During this month Tamara and I were also more involved in the organisation of Youth Evening in Ropazi. Since this month our job is to create a new game for every week. We created some particular games for St. Valentine’s day. On 6th February we had a speech about EVS and volunteer life in a class in Ropazi school. The children were 10 – 11 years old.



My EVS in Sverzov, Slovakia

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.

The children

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.

English Lessons

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

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


10 Podcasts to boost your English!

Learning foreign languages can be a tough nut to crack, I know. But what if I told you that you can practice English/Italian/Spanish/whichever language you’re trying to master while doing your everyday mundane activities, like commuting, cooking, or cleaning? Yeah, you heard me. All you need is a smartphone and a set of earphones. Podcasts are this great source of exposure to a language if you don’t have enough time and money to travel or take classes with a native speaker. What are they, then? Etymology of the name itself explains it quite clearly. Podcast is a blend of two words: iPod and broadcast. It’s a series of audio or video files you can download on your device (more often than not for free!) and listen to wherever you are.


As a bachelor in language studies I can tell from experience, listening to podcasts really helped me improve my English and today I’d like to share with you a couple of my favourites:

BBC Podcasts

I really do believe that almost everyone will find something for themselves in the wide range of programmes offered by the BBC, depending on their interests.

Some of them are probably more appropriate for more advanced learners, for example Woman’s Hour – a show presenting “a female perspective on the world”, The Essay where writers read their articles on a variety of topics, or The Infinite Monkey Cage a brilliant mix of comedy and popular science.

For those, who started their adventure with English only recently, the BBC offers the “6 minute” series: 6 Minute English, 6 Minute Grammar, 6 Minute Vocabulary, which are a part of their BBC learning English department, short and sweet.


Serial is this type of podcast that you just don’t want to turn off.  I was absolutely engrossed in the series and if you have at least a little bit of interest in crime stories, you will be as well. It presents a different true story in each season – the first one reviews a murder case, while the second tells a story of an American soldier captured by the Taliban.

Welcome to Night Vale is a radio programme of a fictional town called Night Vale. Episodes include, among others, news from the town, events and weather, but don’t be discouraged – all is presented with an eerie atmosphere of a small, mysterious desert place. The show at first may seem confusing, but it’s also its advantage, as you don’t need to listen to the episodes in any particular order and, in a way, decide about the story yourself.


Listening to news in a foreign language might be a bit tricky. The vocabulary used by media is usually very specific, grammar structures are complicated and everyone speaks very fast. Thankfully, we have News in Slow English, which is in fact a part of a bigger project called News in Slow that deliver a summary of weekly  news in a slow and clear manner. And if you feel like it’s still too confusing  you can read the transcript of the episode on their website.

Obviously, podcasts are not the only one and right resource for learning English, as they develop your comprehension the most. But once you’re more comfortable with listening, it’s time to start speaking and Vicolocorto together with InformaGiovani have a perfect opportunity for people from Pesaro area – Talk Together! Talk Together is a project based on free conversations in the Caffé Letterario of  Biblioteca San Giovanni in Pesaro. The conversations take place every Tuesday from 17:00 to 18:30 and are led by us, Vicolocorto volunteers. If you’re around, feel free to join us! Fluent English is not required, all you need is a smile and a bit of courage.