From visiting to Chernobyl to becoming a mom
I think it all started when I fell in love with Russia and the Russian language while studying at the university. At that time (2008) I was so excited about everything connected with Russia that saying ‘YES’ to volunteering at a Russian themed party in Slovakia named “Matryoshka” was an immediate decision. Dominik (founder of CHERNOBYLwel.come) was one of the organisers of the party. Actually, I have no idea why, after some time, he contacted ME with the offer of a co-operation on this Chernobyl project :D
To be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention to Chernobyl and the disaster itself until I started to work with the project. I had no idea what the place was like and how I would communicate with potential clients. It all came to me so unexpectedly, but despite that I said ‘why not’ to myself and took it as an opportunity to learn something new and improve my language skills. And I haven’t regretted it for a minute.
To this day I can remember how stressful it was to press the “send” button to my first potential Chernobyl client. I think I read the email a hundred times before I had the courage to send it! When the person replied, I realised how childish it all was ☺. People are great! I cannot count how many lovely souls I have “met” online. You are all perfect the way you are, it’s just that everybody comes from different backgrounds and so most emails are positive, some are more emotional, some might sound distant or aloof, but there is still something nice about them. Some people may say customer service is boring. Not for me. I like to study people, their psychology and how their reactions are very much dependent on how I act and feel when writing an email. That’s amazing, don’t you think? ☺
Of course, nothing is always perfect and there were also some times when I felt disappointed, angry and wanted to quit. CHERNOBYLwel.come has always been my hobby. I was also working full time and after 8-10 hours behind the computer it was often extremely difficult to muster enough energy to go back online in my free time. However, much has changed in the meantime and CHERNOBYLwel.come is now more experienced, stronger and it’s base wider than ever before. Working with my closest colleagues – always helpful and innovative Sonya, positive Maya and skilled Alex is fun and a joy. People keep asking bizarre questions, and offer unbelievable things just to get a special service, sometimes they don’t respect the strict Chernobyl rules and make our lives somewhat difficult. However, in the end, even if we don’t admit it, those little troubles are important enough to keep us awake, querying and trying to change things and learning all the time. So please, dear customer, stay extra-ordinary and curious :P
And be brave.
Even for me, it took some time to make a final decision, pack a bag and get on the train to the Ukraine and then by bus to Chernobyl. What an experience it was! When I first saw the Ukrainian sleeper train and my ‘bed’, I burst into tears. I thought that it would be the worst trip of my life. I was so wrong ☺! We had so much fun with the other passengers on the train, even just talking and enjoying the gentle swinging of the train…and on this old-style, rusty, bunk bed I slept like a baby.
I am not going to say that I fell in love with Chernobyl immediately. For me, visiting the place was more like a requirement. I couldn’t act as an information point for customers until I had visited it personally. That visit changed a lot for me and from that moment, all the theoretical information became absolutely clear to me. I cannot explain with words how helpful the visit was – and I am sure our customers felt it in my answers as well.
And not only because of my job and duties - I really liked Chernobyl, it’s atmosphere and the energy that is present there. Some places are scary, others are beautiful, but most importantly, I believe no photo or video can capture the feeling that you experience when you are there in person.
Chernobyl is a very special place; this is the sentence I use frequently when replying to clients. And I really mean it. For me, it is an unforgettable place on planet Earth with a sad history that is something worth seeing. At least once in a lifetime.
Visiting Chernobyl is not an ordinary holiday by the sea, one that you enjoy every year with your family. Visiting Chernobyl is something that will always remain in your mind and the uniqueness of the place will become part of your memories forever.
Briefly, this is my story of my part in CHERNOBYLwel.come. Thanks principally go to Dominik who made me part of this sometimes turbulent, amazing story. Hopefully, I will stay part of this dream team that we have created with our colleagues, even during other, very new duties that I will have to face later this year – motherly duties ;)
P.S. On August 10, 2016 (on the very same day as one of our colleagues and good friend of Eliska - Sonia is having birthday) Oliver Nawal - son of Eliska was born. Congratulations!!!