“Back to Nature” is a youth exchange, organized by the non-governmental organization “Hang-Kép Egyesület” from Debrecen, Hungary, which took place from 18.08.2017 to 27.08.2017 in Hortobagy, Hungary. “Volunteering Centre Skopje” participated in the youth exchange with its own team, made of 5 participants under the age of 18, and one team leader above the age of 18. Beside the Macedonian team, in this youth exchange participated teams from 4 different countries: Italy, Romania, Poland and Hungary. Every country’s team had 5 participants and one team leader.
The venue of the youth exchange was the national park Hortobagy, located in the big “puszta”. The “puszta” is undoubtedly one of the biggest pastures in Europe, and also a national park. With its area of 82000ha, Hortobagy is a real proof of the harmonious life of the flora and the fauna, including 342 species of birds, and a big number of lakes and ponds. Just 35 kilometres away from Debrecen, Hortobagy is a place where the architecture and the nature awake memories from the past, and enlighten the soul of the visitor.
At first, our team from Macedonia arrived in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. They strolled around the city for two days and explored the hidden gems of the city’s beauty. The team visited the monumental building of the parliament, the well-known Chain Bridge, St. Stpehen’s Basilica and many more buildings.
After the well spent two days in Budapest, they took the train to Debrecen (the 2nd largest city in Hungary). Upon arrival in Debrecen, they were transferred by one of the organizers to the venue of the youth exchange in Hortobagy. From the very first day ehn they arrived in Hortobagy, they had some excellent impressions from the village. Every one of the participants had the chance to experience the breathtaking beauty and harmony of this place. The buildings and the tight streets offer the echo of the nature. Urged from the natural beauties and the goal of the project – which was increasing awareness of the youngsters for their inner and social values while they’re in the nature, the participants were eager to volunteer in the upcoming activities there.
Starting with activities about getting to know each other better, the participants slowly but surely brokethe barrierdown, and shared their experiences and knowledge with the other participants. The morning energizers, the fun activities and the Hungarian cultural night were just a small part of the first day that they spent there.
Ready for new challenges, the youngsters volunteered and helped in a huge number of tasks in the Bird Hospital, starting from cleaning the cages and the ponds of the injured birds, all the way to fence painting. Accepting every challenge, the volunteers challenged themselves, and proved that they’re capable of helping anywhere and in every situation. The next activity was the photography workshop, which urged the participants to use their cameras or phones to take pictures of different perspectives and different objects in the area of the Hortobagy village. With this activity, they gained new knowledge in the field of the photography. To feel like adventurers and explorers, the participants were given the task to row in a riverthat flows under one of the oldest bridges in Hungary, the “Nine Arch Bridge”.
Inevitably, we have to mention the field trip to Debrecen. The participants had the chance to see the fancy Hungarian architecture, Debrecen’s square, the big yellow church, and the flower festival, which takes place every August in the city of Debrecen. The flower festival has a lot to offer, from space shuttles, to little ponies. All of those sculptures were made out of flowers and plants. Space shuttle made out of flowers? Sounds interesting, huh?
The following day, all of the teams had a chance to hear something more about the herbs and the plants that are grown in the “puszta”. They also had a chance to try tea from different peculiar herbs, which help in many ways and cure many illnesses.
All in all, beside the voluntary work there, the young volunteers had a huge reward from this youth exchange. That is the knowledge, the skills, and the experience gained there. Sharing different abilities, cultures, and values, every one of them successfully developed themselves on a higher moral level. Breaking the different barriers between them, they expanded their positive views and aspects for the world. The overall number of workshops, activities and games were the main driving force through which in a very easy and simple way, in just one week, helped us to become much more than friends. Despite the fact that everyone comes from different parts of Europe, with different nationalities, did not represent any obstacle in the friendship and the participants’ participation, but on the contrary, sharing the cultures, traditions and language of its people united the participants in a harmonious and unique multinational community. They spent their free time in friendship, creating together memories that will undoubtedly remain in their memory forever. Its culmination, the friendship reached the last day, when the closeness among the participants was felt most intensely. Ready to go home, with a tears in their eyes, and with a letter in their hand, the young volunteers sent each other hugging, as if it was the last time they see each other.
Authors: Aleksandra Krstevska, Marija Burgieva, Valerija Ilievska ,Anastas Kitanovski . Damjan Georgievski, Kristina Lukanovska