edin-blog1Mary volunteered at the Just Festival in Edinburgh and said she that the experience had big benefits for her personal growth. Read her blog here. 

You don’t need to be rich to travel abroad, discover new places and develop yourself. You just need to have a strong passion for something. I have passion for the English language and this time my dreams took me across the English Channel and even further, to the terrain where the spirit of ancient history still exists, people seem to be actors from the movie “Braveheart” and the air is full of mystery.

It is beautiful to serve, but only if it is done with joy, a whole heart and a free mind. I went to Scotland as a volunteer, sort of free labour you think, but the opportunities and experience I got had an enormous value both for my working within the festival skills and personal growth.

The spirit that welcomed me in Edinburgh was fascinating. The Fringe Festival woke up all the artists around the world and people’s desire to become a part of Fringe process creating art in the outer and inner worlds.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks. Thousands of performers take to a multitude of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, musicals, operas, music, exhibitions and lots of events.

I volunteered in the Just Festival, a festival of spirituality and peace, which took place in St. John’s church in the centre of Edinburgh. With 129 performances, talks, films, events, and exhibitions, the festival aimed to celebrate cross-faith and cross-cultural diversity in Edinburgh.

The Just Festival had five key themes – Faith Today, Scottish Independence Referendum, Changing World, Behind Closed Doors and Ethics over Profit – which combined to provide an insightful, enlightening and thought-provoking programme. The volunteers helped create a positive atmosphere during the festival. There were 40 of us, from different countries, backgrounds and diversity of views on life: England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Finland, the USA, Poland, Ukraine, Sweden, Australia, France, Taiwan, South Africa and others. It was sort of a small multicultural world which could be found in the basement of the church – the “sacred kitchen” place which was also “museum” and “volunteer psychotherapeutical office”.

edin-blog2Apart from the local volunteers and students there were ten IVS volunteers among another 40. Though we arrived later we managed to become a big family together. The ten of us lived a bit further from the centre in the Scouthall. Although we slept on the floor in the sleeping bags, that didn’t take the turn for the worse. We got so tired during the day that it didn’t matter much where to see dreams.

As far as the work is concerned it rotated every day. We distributed leaflets, sold tickets for the shows in the box office, delivered the information to the tourists, controlled the quietness during performances and helped to set up the stage for plays. Well in general it was not difficult. On the contrary I gained certain skills that would help me in organizing events in our city. Festival coordinators were very kind and helpful. We had a lot of social events with karaoke, talent shows and movie evenings. No time to get bored. Life was interesting there, I would even say sometimes over the top in terms of active lifestyle, but it was worth it. Moreover, IVS volunteers received an opportunity to take part in Scottish traditional dancing. It was fantastic, two hours without a break, tiresome but evoked the most incredible inner feelings. I fell in love with Scotland, its terrific nature, culture, bagpipe, rhythm, history though I found it difficult sometimes to get the sense of Scottish fast speech.

During our days off we managed to visit North Berwick with magnificent beaches and castles, Rosslyn Chapel (where part of the “Da Vinci Code” film was shot), Arthur’s Seat with its gorgeous views, Calton Hill, a variety of museums, galleries and other historic places in Edinburgh.

Volunteering opens new horizons and provides you with the new perception of the world, it breaks down prejudices, gives freedom in your mind and inspires to live.

Though my camp finished on 27 July, I had three more days for travelling in England. I visited London once again, its unusual Camden town and the city of Cambridge.

Never before had I seen so many enigmatic and mysterious places, got acquainted with so many diverse people and watched breathtaking performances. Life is Cool! You just need to have passion for something.

My adventures were over but this country is still in my heart and I’m looking forward to finding myself there but this time with my husband who I missed so much during my long trip in Great Britain.

Enjoy life every minute,

With Love,