They are people of various ages, professions, preferences, degrees of education… But the one thing they have in common is their noble and proud energy, which is the driving force of every large organisation. Today, we’ll be talking to two ECoC volunteers, who spread their positivity everywhere around them. While it doesn’t seem so at first glance, Silvana Brunjak and Amra Ramić actually have a lot in common. The love for their city and pride that Rijeka will hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2020 were their primary motives for participating in the project.

Silvana is a 66-year-old hard-working and friendly pensioner, who has spent her entire life working in culture, and this is, as she puts it, another way for her to stay involved. Although she volunteers in other projects, she got her feet wet at the opening of RiHub in late 2018. Amra is an ambitious, diligent and talkative 18-year-old high school senior at the First Croatian Gymnasium of Rijeka, who also volunteers at the Red Cross, in addition to the ECoC.

– I am proud that Rijeka has been awarded the title of the European Capital of Culture and since this is a project that is new to everyone, I thought that I should invest all my experience in helping implement the project, Silvana says excitedly.

As a pensioner with a lot of free time on her hands, it is no trouble for Silvana to engage in various activities and volunteer to handle demanding organisational tasks pertaining to various ECoC programmes. Amra is a 4th-grade pupil at the Gymnasium, which is why she has little spare time, but she says that it all comes down to motivation. – I organise my time by making a weekly schedule of all activities. I don’t strictly adhere to it, but it does help me squeeze in volunteering activities, including those of the European Capital of Culture project.

 

Amra found out that Rijeka 2020 was looking for volunteers when, as part of the Participate! campaign, she received a flyer in the mail along with the utility bills inviting potential ECoC volunteers to participate. – My mum told me that she had something for me, I did some googling on the rijeka2020.eu website, read the basic information about the project and realised that this was the perfect chance to meet new people and socialise with them and that we could ultimately do a lot of useful things together. With time, it has become clearer to me just how important the European Capital of Culture project is and I am certain that in the years to come, everyone participating in the project will see this title as their own child, which we made together, took care of and coddled. I look forward to the people visiting our city next year and to hanging out with artists and programme organisers because I am sure this experience will enrich my life with new knowledge and skills.

Due to the nature of her work, Silvana has been familiar with the project from the beginning and she knew that its extensiveness would require volunteers, so she immediately saw this as an opportunity to give something back to Rijeka. – So far, as an ECoC volunteer, I’ve helped organise various happenings, conferences, events (…), mostly by making sure everything went smoothly and that the participants had everything they needed. I’ve greeted visitors, reporters, met many celebrities, artists and dignitaries, including the President of the Republic of Croatia – says Silvana and stresses how the team that organises the events trains the volunteers and shows them the ins and outs, which makes the work easy-peasy! – It’s very nice to work in a positive atmosphere and volunteering for the ECoC has been like that all the time! We know what to do, we are given tasks and we get to socialise with each other a lot – says Silvana. Amra agrees with her older co-volunteer, emphasising that it is a true pleasure to gain new experience while spending time with the other volunteers, as well as the organisers and the participants of the event. – Volunteering for the ECoC has allowed me to better myself. This means that I don’t just help others, but also have the chance to learn and try new things. That’s priceless!

Silvana and Amra are very proud of the fact that Rijeka is the European Capital of Culture 2020 and agree that everyone should participate: – This isn’t a project for “eggheads”. They are certain that the title of the European Capital of Culture will give Rijeka a brand-new energy and a great opportunity to improve in all areas. – This is a project for all citizens!

Silvana and Amra have this to say together: – Participate, you can only benefit from volunteering, which leaves you with a feeling of fulfilment and pride of the people around you and the city that we live in. Let’s create the port of diversity together!

 

Photo: Danilo Pavletić (RIJEKA 2020 volunteer)