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Volunteer Experiences / Simon Kreft: Jajce fascinated me, I can’t wait to get back

For all those who still do not know me, my name is Simon, I come from Germany and I am a volunteer at the Center for Education and Gathering – COD Jajce. I must immediately add that I hope to volunteer for COD and stay because I had to return home because of the current situation – the corona virus pandemic.

But let me continue. I want to describe to you my one-year volunteer service and I don’t know how to start. I will start from the very beginning – with my arrival.

I traveled 26 hours from my hometown of Hamburg to Jajce. It was a really long journey by train and bus. In the end, I just wanted a bed.

However, when I arrived in Jajce, I was greeted by a previous volunteer who showed me the city of Jajce. My motivation and energy immediately returned. I was completely enchanted by the city, there were so many people outside, they were sitting in the gardens of the caffes, everyone was greeting me and that created a very pleasant atmosphere.

Also, the waterfall and the Old Town are beautiful. After the first 12 hours spent in the new environment, I was happy that Jajce was my home for the next year.

During the first week, I explored and got to know Jajce, visited the Pliva Lakes, the fortress and all the important cultural and historical buildings of the city.

That’s where my first meeting with COD happened. I got to know each sector of the organization and in the end they showed me my job and presented the activities that I will perform in the coming period.

My primary task was to work in the international sector, together with my coordinator Elma. There were also some special moments, such as the coordination of the international meeting in Magdeburg, and the purchase of tickets and contact with partners.

I was given the task for our team to organize a meeting in Austria. Unfortunately, the pandemic ruined all plans.

I also contributed to the evening educational and creative programs of COD as a lecturer in German language courses, and by giving support to local volunteers in their programs.

Together with COD, I realized my great wish – contact with the basketball club “Vodopad” where I trained and was an assistant coach for younger teams. Every week I had 4 trainings, 2 personal and 2 as a coach of younger teams, and on weekends we traveled to matches where I had the opportunity to meet many BiH cities.

These are my weekly activities and the way I spend my time as a volunteer in Jajce, and I spend my free time with friends I met thanks to a mentor and basketball training. We meet and hang out every day, and we also organized some great parties such as New Year’s Eve, birthdays and other parties with and without the occasion. All this will remain in my memory forever. I am especially glad that many people from Jajce already recognize me on the street, greet me and I feel welcome.

In addition to hanging out with friends and work, I also visited some other cities in the Balkans such as Zagreb and Split, and I also had great hiking tours with my friend Željko.

In February I got a new roommate, a volunteer from France with whom I get along very well and we often spent weekends together.

At the moment, unfortunately, I am in Germany. Because of the Corona virus, I had to go back, but I spent such a wonderful time with my friends and colleagues at work that I can’t wait to go back.

By the way, if you see me or some other volunteers on the street, feel free to approach us and start a conversation, because we are all curious to get to know your culture, hear your stories and make new friends.