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Mateja Mazgan - a bold and unparalleled volunteer

I'm sure that while you were reading one of the Globetrotter issues you had to come across one of the most active volunteers that HI Slovenia has – it's Mateja Mazgan. She was nominated for the best volunteer of 2014, which gave her new energy to put even more effort into her work. She, herself, is a globetrotter and a travelling journalist and now she has presented her story as a volunteer to us. As she said herself – she is voluntarily opening many doors to the world. What are you waiting for – you should become a volunteer as well.


Hello Mateja Mazgan. What is your dream job? How would you present yourself to a employer who’d give you such work?

Dream job, eh? It would have to be connected to travel and be really dynamic. I was thinking along the lines of police – but not traffic cops – I would want to be part of the team protecting people around the world – taking care of VIPs. I’d be the one organizing it all and that’s why I enrolled in master studies at security sciences. As I have a year old daughter I can’t constantly travel around the globe, but I have to combine several activities. So my dream job consists of travel and dinamics, but it has to give me enough time for my daughter.

Under the nomination of HI Slovenia you were nominated for best volunteer of 2014. Can you describe the path that got you nominated? 

It’s mostly due to writing articles and giving accounts of my travels around country and abroad. I’m constantly contributing them and for some time there hasn’t been an issue of Globetrotter without my article published. I also constantly prepare interviews. To surmise, it’s travel journalism that got me nominated as best volunteer of 2014.

Do you often look back at the path you’ve already walked? 

I have to admit, I don’t look at the past at all. I’m always looking forward, to the future. I don’t bother with the past and I’m not burdened by it. I always think ahead about what I haven’t done yet and should still do.

You’ve been a volunteer at HI Slovenia for 3 years now. How did you start and what do you do as a volunteer?

I was browsing the net at the time and wrote them to collaborate. They took me on right away. I sent them some travel accounts and we’ve begun. I was very active from the beginning on. Apart from writing travel accounts and interviews I don’t do other volunteer work for them.

You’re also a volunteer with other organizations?

There are many of them. To only name a few where I’m most active (apart from HI Slovenia): the Cave rescue team, where I’m in the first aid unit; the association of travel photographers; the association of photography lovers; Traveller’s association Vagant; The old-timer vehicles association; Caver’s society; two marching bands and the list goes on. I also hold volunteer lectures in the Social work centre and have been Santa Clause at the Maribor paediatric clinic. 

Travells are the main part of your life. In one of the interviews of Globetrotter you mentioned, you’ve started travelling with your grandmother while still in elementary school. How are your current travels different from those early ones and what would you do if you wouldn’t be travelling? 

It’s true, granny and I started traveling when I was in 8th grade. She took me along for the trip to Netherlands and we got along really well together, so we started traveling each year. During my studies I’ve started travelling on my own as well – always self-organized travels. It was then I’ve realized how pointless it is to travel with an agency, when I can organize the travel myself. We have 17 journeys together, but as granny has 83 years, her health is starting to prevent her from taking journeys. I guess that 2014 was out last joint journey, when we crossed 11 countries of Europe. We’ve travelled other continents as well.
If I wouldn’t be travelling I’d probably be more active in sports, more than I am. A day doesn’t go by that I’m not atop of a mountain, cycling or active in some other way. But that would be travelling alo as athletes also travel. 

It’s a fact that one can also make money by travelling. What do you do for a living? Do you write books or tourist guides? Do you have lectures and take photos?

I take pictures, write travel accounts and hold lectures. I do this so actively that I earn my next year’s travel. And let me boast that for a few years now I haven’t spent anything on travelling – I only invested the money I’ve earned by lecturing about my travels, handing in articles and photos. I’ve started thinking about writing a book or a travel’s guide and also about taking people to more extreme activities. I’m not into traditional travels; I’m more into mountains and caves. There is basically no cave tourism yet. I was thinking about leading an expedition around Caucasus (Russia, Georgia, Armenia) that I’d organize. 

I, Izidor Furjan, have also received a similar award for best volunteer of 2013. What were your feeling upon winning the nomination? What were the reactions of people once they found out? 

It was a huge honour for me. I was surprised they’ve even nominated me. I never expected it. The even at Brdo pri Kranju was really special. I thank HI Slovenia for the nomination and support. The reaction of people, from all around, were nothing but positive. Everybody was interested what I’d do after the event.

Have you ever had a feeling that volunteering opened new doors for you?

Naturally. You always get to meet new people and make new contacts. Unfortunately everything is connected to money. Once in a while I also get some business opportunities, but volunteering does open many doors for me.

In conclusion, would you like to give some advice for volunteering at HI Slovenia or any other organization? 

I recommend volunteering to everybody. But you need to endure. There’s some time you need to invest in interviews and articles before you get to be noticed and doors open, when people start fallowing you. If you do your thing well and constantly the opportunity will find you.
You can read some of Mateja’s contributions at

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