Reunion in Visegrád

We volunteers already started looking forward to this week at the end of our On-Arrival-Training - because on our Midterm-Training from the 26th to 29th of March we’re finally reunited again, in (nearly) full numbers.

And this time the training is in a wellness-hotel in Visegrád as opposed to the dorms of the Central European University in Budapest. Visegrád is a small town at the Danube, about two hours north of Budapest.

The plannings are already running hot beforehand, in different WhatsApp and Facebook groups - who takes which bus, who can meet with whom before to travel there together, does someone have more information about the hotel we’re staying in? - but just on time on Tuesday morning all the questions are resolved and the journey begins.

First day: Old Friends and New Faces

The first day is mostly used for a general review and coming-back-rogether. Three people from the On-Arrival-Group are missing, two quitted their projects and one has a shorter project and went to an earlier Midterm-Training. But we also have two new faces to welcome into the group, who seem a little insecure in the beginning but warm up to us in next to no time, finding their places amongst our mids with no problem.

The weather is great and our conference room is directly next to the garden, which leads us to spontaneously moving the afternoon session outside. It feels like no time has passed at all between the On-Arrival-Training and the Midterm-Training yet still, all of us are a little bit changed to the people we were in October.

The moment the day’s work is done we gather again, to talk, to play cards - simply to enjoy the company of the other volunteers - in the wellness area of the hotel. No one thinks about this being over in just a few days, yet.

Second day: Tree-cuddling and a Queen’s crowning

The second day is focussing on motivation restart and we start the day with a strange task - we have to find a tree that is shown to us before the exercise in groups of nine people, but we all are blindfolded during the search. This ends in a bigger adventure than expected and with us hugging our tree while breaking down in laughter.

We conclude that this tour can be seen as a metaphor for our whole project: The tree - our aim - is shown to us in the beginning, but to get there we have to climb blindly over obstacles, run against walls and sometimes fight our way through shrubbery. In the end we finally reach our aim but every single person you’re with is needed to get there.

Instead of the usual dinner we have a culture night on this evening - we’re going up to the lower castle of Visegrád where the knight’s order of Saint George is presenting their weapons in a small tournament. One of us has birthday today and is crowned as Queen - including a crown and red velvet coat.

After the tournament we are invited for a medieval dinner with music and funny costumes.

Third day: Self-care in the swimming pool

On the third day we are mostly working with team dynamics, conflics and solutions. We talk about which phases you typically have when forming a team, which conflicts we already have encountered or which could be encountered during an EVS and what we can do or did to solve them. It’s a more thoughtful morning, because we all already had a few conflics in our projects to look back on.

But the mood brightens instantly when our trainers tell us to form small groups of four or five people and hand out envelopes to every group - because envelopes like this contained the information to the Budapest ralley during the On-Arrival-Training.

Here, too, we got a map of the town and a list of tasks from which we should complete as many as possible - separated into the categories Self-care, Reflection and Exploration.

My group decides to make a relaxing day out of the afternoon instead of an exhausting, if interesting, exploration of the area. So we talk during a stroll along the Danube about lots of different things going on in our projects and what we are planning for the future. To finish the day we visit the wellness area again, which - sadly - is closed in the evenings.

Because it’s already the last evening of the training, most of the group comes together in our conference room after dinner, where we stay until deep in the night, singing Karaoke, playing cards and letting the training come to an end together.

Fourth Day: Saying Goodbye

On this last morning nearly everyone is a little tired, because we weren’t only up until late but also had to pack our things, because check-out is only until 10 in the morning. The atmosphere is relaxed, if a little more sedate than on the other days.

Before our minds can turn to the realisation that today is truly the last day we are training ourselves in leading conversations - how can you help another person in a prolific conversation to solve a problem? We spread over the area in pairs to talk about something on our mind that we haven’t found a solution for, yet. Afterwards all of us can agree that the talk helped, maybe not with an immediate solution but with getting new light on the whole subject.

At the close of the training we talk about our plans for the future and what we hope to take away from the EVS, in general.

And with that, the training is already over.

We spend the rest of the day in Visegrád, too lazy to climb up the cliff to get to the upper castle, and continue to Szentendre, a lot later and in already significantly decreased numbers.

And at least a few of us will meet again in Budapest during the weekend.

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