Interview with Dora Varjačić Youth Centre Zagreb
- Can you please introduce yourself briefly and share a bit about your background?
I have finished bachelors in Social Pedagogy and master in Criminal Justice and Security. I have visited 18 countries and plan to vidited a lot more. I started working in the Center 6 months ago, and before that I was a freelancer, non-format educator & NGO project coordinator.
I graduated with an undergraduate degree in social pedagogy, which is working with children and youth with behavior problems and I was always attracted to work with young people, so four years ago I went on my first Erasmus project where I fell in love with informal education. After that, I continued to go to projects, meet and socialize with other young people, educate myself in different areas, and finally implement activities and projects for young people as project managers and facilitators.
I have been working with young people for three years through various associations (AEGEE-Zagreb, AYES, etc.), and I am happy to continue working in Youth Center Zagreb.
- Tell me about your center, when it was founded, what groups you are working with, what topics you cover?
Until 2020, the Youth Center Zagreb, formerly called Youth Center of the city of Zagreb was a relatively quiet brother of the Zamisli Association, but with the end of the ESF project of the Zamisli Association and 30 partners, in agreement with Zamisli, we decided to continue implementing the project’s activities on a smaller scale.
The purpose of the project was the establishment and operation of the Center, a place for the implementation of a wide range of youth activities and for young people in the local community of the largest Croatian city.
The target group is young people between 15 and 30 years old
The Zagreb Youth Center is a place where young people develop, learn, socialize and join society. The center provides free workshops and activities, information and counseling services for young people in accordance with the needs of the community. Activities for young people are carried out on the topics of education, employment, health, volunteering, culture and art, mobility, social policy and law, and we are open to all other topics that are important to young people.
- Do you have volunteers in your center? Are they local volunteers or on a European level?
We have a volunteer club where a team of local volunteers is working in different areas focused on carrying out activities, writing articles and creating visuals/posts on social networks. In addition, we have 2 podcast teams that record in the Youth Center on the topics of: young entrepreneurs and successful young people. We don’t have volunteers on a European level, but we have international members/volunteers.
- How many volunteers approximately you choose each year for your projects?
We do not have an exact number of volunteers that we accept, it depends on them, since young people carry out their activities/campaigns on topics that interest them.
- Is this project implemented for the first time?
We do not carry out major projects, but we have smaller volunteer projects that we carry out in the Center as part of free activities/workshops for young people. We currently have an active Youth Academy project (Akademija za mlade) whose goal is to educate young people in various areas of life that interest them.
- What type of activities your volunteers held during their volunteering programme?
We currently have five areas where volunteers can participate:
Conducting workshops and activities
Assistance in the implementation of CMZG projects
So far we have implemented and brainstormed multiple activities, such as Mental Health Week campaign, Youth conference “We are young, so what?”, Zagreb Treasure Hunt, Sex health education as part of the International AIDS Day.
- What is the timeline of this project?
Since we don’t have major projects, we don’t have any timeline, but for Youth Academy the project lasts until 2023.
- Will it be implemented in the next few years for this same project?
We will continue to implement all the activities and services that the Youth Center had until now, but we do not know about the timeline for other potential projects. We will start focusing more into the areas of Erasmus+ and national projects.
- What message would you give to people and what they can do to make their communities better?
The most important thing is the young person’s own motivation to change their community for the better. If you have that, then you have an extra push to work hard and involve others to achieve common goals with you, in this case a better future in your community.
The goal of the Zagreb Youth Center is to build a safe space where young people can develop, grow and find a part of themselves in the activities we offer. It is a stress-free place to hang out, learn, think and have fun, and we invite all young people to come, experience that feeling and be part of the community!