When living in a small apartment pets are rarely an option - unless they’re small and not too furry. My brother and I managed to persuade our parents to get us turtles. The euphoria of having a pet was gone pretty soon. In the end one died and the other (our humble contribution to biodiversity loss) was released into a pond.

So, why am I talking about pets? Well, as it happens one member of YEE office is of a furry persuasion. I still remember when I had my EVS interview. One of the questions was whether I would mind to share the office with a cat. I said that I don’t mind at all, but then it’s not like I knew what it’s like living with a cat. A turtle is not a cat.

In the northern part of the Czech Republic, bordering Poland, lies a magical place. It is not only the place where a rather charismatic old fellow with a grayish long beard, a long wooden stick, a dark cloak and a big hat (no, it’s not Gandalf...sadly) makes (not so appealingly looking) wafers, but also a hotspot for hiking and winter tourism. The magic goes by the name Krkonoše or, in English, Giant mountains.

These were busy two months in YEE office. Three remarkable events took place almost in a row: the study session “Exploring gender equality in environmental projects”, the Board meeting in March and the training course “YEE-nclude: inclusion in environmental youth projects” in April. During these months I had a chance to see the working process from two different sides: as a participant and as a part of preparatory team. So, let’s start from the beginning.

It all happened on a fresh January morning.

Two teachers and a group of pupils wait patiently at the bus stop. Suddenly, there is a noise in the distance. A long expected noise. A familiar sound. Euphoria rises as it gets closer and closer.

It is an exciting day, for dull lectures gave way to a visit of the local Eco-centre. The bus arrives. They all rush in as the bus door open. Some manage to get a seat while others stand, gripping the poles tightly.

Time flies so fast and one third of my EVS has already past. Feels like the on-arrival training was just couple of weeks ago, but in the beginning of January it was already time to attend a mid-term meeting. Trainers particularly stressed that it was a “meeting” and not a “training”. Which means that we had more space for self-reflections and evaluations, workshops carried out by volunteers and more time for relaxed small conversations with each other. It’s interesting that it is possible to realize your own feelings through a simple chat with people who are currently in the same situation. So, methods, used in this meeting were a great example of non formal learning process for me.

My expectations of this meeting were to get an inspiration for mini-projects, share gained experience, try to find solutions for possible problems we faced and finally find out: “Is there life after EVS?” And yes, there is:)