We were invited to join the short-term EVSers for their on-arrival seminar at the treehouses in the mountains and I wasn't sure what to expect as we set off in Filaretos' car. Singing Irish songs to beat the band, we took in ever-more amazing views of Kalamata and the Messinian bay with every wind of the ascending mountain road.
As we neared, Filaretos pointed across to the shape of an amphitheatre in the distance. "That's where we're going" he said. The mystery deepened; treehouses and amphitheatres?! Nice one. When we arrived we descended the stairs into a seemingly different world, it was like we were stepping back in time.
We were greeted by our EVSers-in-arms, who were from Croatia and France, and our gracious hosts, had a few chats and settled in.
After a while we got started with the seminar. It was all about EVS, general information and it's practicalities. Although this seminar was primarily for the short-term EVS volunteers, as our 'official' one is on in September in Athens, Fotini and Filaretos felt it would be a good experience for us and I'm glad they did. The first activity was about our fears and expectiations regarding EVS. A straightforward enough concept but very necessary to discuss. After we affixed our post-its to the flipchart Fotini and Filaretos talked about all of them in turn, reassured us and clarified what we were to experience over the next 10 months. The next activity was Mission Impossible. Here we were assigned an number of tasks to be completed in an almost-equal number of minutes! These tasks included: compose a group song, make a poster for the group, find 10 differences and 10 similarities between all the countries represented in the group, gather things from around the camp that began with each letter of the alphabet, make a group dance and make a list of everyone's favourite food, colour and artist. Everything had to be done as a team, no delegation here! Everything went well apart from the song and dance! But the craic was good and loosened us all up a bit! After lunch, the short-term EVS volunteers made shelves for their tents and us long-haulers made bread. LOTS of bread! Sotirios and Panayota made dinner and the food was amazing. Cooked in a homemade oven which sat outside the main house that was built by Sotirios 4 years ago. He's some man for one man! After dinner we watched the sunset beautifully over Kalamata and the Messinian bay.
After dark the sky was amazing. The view of the Milky Way and the multitude of stars was something I had never seen before. Wished on a few shooting stars and played a dice game where I got my arse horribly kicked! No beginners luck for me.
On the second day, as I dealt with my incessant sleepiness, others had to deal with mosquito bites on account of their seemingly tasty blood! After breakfast we discussed EVS mentors, what they are and their roles. We were split into two groups and asked our knowledge artistically. Our group did a comic strip featuring an elephant like Dumbo teaching birds to how to fly. Cheesy, cute and succinct in equal measure! We were then introduced to our rights and responsibilities as EVS volunteers. We were again split into two groups, one rights and the other responsibilities. We were asked to make a dramatic presentation of what our rights and responsibilities are. This was followed by an explanation and a clearing up of a few minor misunderstandings.
After a tasty lunch prepared by Panayota and Sotirios (with a little help from us!) we discussed the youth pass and the 8 key competences. We were asked to take post-its and put our projects on the relevant competences. After a discussion and a promise to be introduced to the fax machine we chilled and hung out for a bit before leaving. We packed up, bade our goodbyes, exchanged numbers and made our merry way back to Kalamata on a promise to return. And return I certainly shall.