Tips 4 volunteers

A volunteer is unhappy, unsatisfied or stuck with his/her project.. what to do? How to react?

General advices are always good, most of all if wise, but sometimes are not enough. Better good practical examples, tips, suggestions coming from real experiences.

Here we share stories from past volunteers that managed to change their EVS for the better, to improve their jobs, to develop their ideas in good projects. How they managed to overcome practical and emotional problems? Discover it while reading the letters that they wrote to you 😉

 


Tips for future volunteers:

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  • Before the departure, check all the information about the hosting organisation.

The volunteers often write blogs, on which you can read new information about life in a particular country, or the type of work you’re going to do

  • There’s no need to worry that you don’t know the language of a country you’re going to. The hosting organisations offer language courses – often there are intense courses, thanks to which after a few weeks you will be able to communicate in the language
  • Take some objects that bear the character of your country – clothes, symbols, delicacies of cuisine. New co-workers, and your friends, are always interested in what are the culture and country you come from like.
  • Don’t be afraid that after your arrival to a foreign country you will only have to count on yourself. On the place you will meet your tutor, whose task is to give you all the information you need and help him in case of problems.

 

Hi, my name is Kasia and I’d been working with TULIME association in Palermo for 6 months. I’ve gained many skills useful for a future career. I want to share with you some of my observations.

  1. Find all necessary information about your hosting organization. Be aware of your duties during your future project . Try to find ex EVS volunteers whom cooperated with your association. They will inform you if they were satisfied with their projects.
  2. Finally, if you are not satisfied with your project, the best strategy is: PROBLEM>SOLUTION. Give your coworkers prepared solution and marvelous idea how you can help organization. Show them that you are better in something else! If you will talk with them for sure they will take your idea under consideration.
  3. If you have some serious private problems during your EVS project don’t hesitate and ask your coordinator for a help.
  4. First moments at the new places will be tough, it’s completely normal and understandable. Take with you some things from home which make your place abroad cozy and homely.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
  6. Try to find other volunteers, students, Erasmus students and people with whom you can share your life and experience. It is important to have pro-active and can-do attitude.

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WISH YOU THE BEST! J J


 

Ireland!

Hi, I’m Marta. I was an European Volunteer in Dublin, Ireland. I know that EVS is not only a time of work. It is a great time full of fun which will change your life. Here are my advices for you if you decided to be an European Volunteer.

  • Take a map. It’s good to have a map of a city where you will spend your time. Ofcourse, you have a Mentor, who always can tell you where to go. But at the beginning you can be lost all the time. Also, you can take a map of all country – then it will be easier for you to traveling.

  • Use your time. Try to learn English and language of the country, meet with other people, travel. Be active. Maybe there will be the best opportunity to make your dreams come true.

  • Get involved in your project. You can get very good experience. If you have your own ideas, say it to coordinator and maybe you can realise it!

  • Take some things which remind you your country, family, friends… Other volunteers and your new friends will want to know you. Show them traditional food from your country, music, clothes, pictures and pictures of people important for you.

  • Remember about Skype. You are not alone, you have new friends, for sure there will be many people around you. But if you feel sad or you just miss your family – call and spend time with them.

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My first times

European Voluntary Service was supposed to be a cognitive experience. I didn’t expect, though, that my trip to Iceland would be such a gold mine of knowledge and new experience. By ‘experience’ I mean new things that I experienced myself, or things that I could observe for the first time in my life. I’d like to present two examples below. I’m absolutely sure I’ll remember them for the rest of my life.

I saw flying cows.

Not to start a sensation, I’ll add right away that the flight of the cows stated above lasted only a few seconds and went only in one direction – straight down. The last trip in their lives. This unusual phenomenon happened on the second day of my stay in Iceland. I catched a trip alongside the southern coast, organised by my host organisation. At one of the visited waterfalls, Skógafoss, I noticed several cows standing high on a cliff at the waterfall. ‘How the hell did they get there?’, I thought. I was completely green there in Iceland, so I reached a conclusion that perhaps the local cows have different customs, like, to be independent and to have their own way. ‘Don’t judge superficially, be open to cultural differences in cow societies, let them live their lives however their want’ – I repeated to myself. Sadly, it quickly became clear that a cow is just a cow and a cliff is not its natural environment. What I witnessed several minutes later looked like a clip from a disaster film. Three cows, one after another, fell from the rock right under the waterfall, making a lowing sound of expressive ‘mooooo’. I think that what I saw could be used in a drowning scene in the Titanic film… if only cows were on the Titanic. The reason for the tragic death of cows was never explained; a few theories were formed. One of them tells us that some people hiking nearby scared the cows, which jumped in panic into the pit. Other one implies that the people hiking were the owners of the cows, trying to rescue them and that the rescue was impossible and the owners had to shoot the cows dead to save them from starvation (apparently, they only managed to hit these grasseaters, because otherwise where would the expressive ‘mooooo’ come from?). Personally, I strongly believe in the theory that, in fact, it was only stunt men dressed as cows and there really was a disaster movie (a cow disaster apocalypse, to be exact) being shot in the neighbourhood. Let me remind you that this was the second day of my EVS, nice beginning…

I ate a rotten shark.

Absolutely not because of an expiration date, it wasn’t incorrectly stored either. The rotten shark is a national meal in Iceland. It is prepared by letting the buried shark meat rot for two months. Then it is hanged to dry for about three months. I find it difficult to describe the taste of that unique meal; if I had to compare it to anything , I’d say it tastes like rotten shark. Retching is normal during the meal. Interestingly, I had a chance to consume a rotten shark several times during my stay in Iceland. The natives surprisingly often serve this delicacy to foreign guests and feast their eyes with sheer joy watching the guests trying to eat it. The shark is served in the form of small cubes, which should be speared with a toothpick. Despite the small size, swallowing a cube of rotten shark is a challenge. It’s usually eaten as a snack, something like crisps or salty sticks. Most often served with traditional Icelandic strong alcohol – Brennivín – it tastes a bit like plastic… (trust me, I know what plastic tastes like, I swallowed a turtle in my childhood). The shark in its rotten form was the only shark I managed to observe in Iceland. I failed to meet a live version of this beautiful animal. I only hope that not all them were turned into a smelly snack.

This is only a fraction of magnificent and unique experiences I was a part of during my EVS. A large number of factors makes Iceland one of these places you put on your ‘to visit’ list right after the first visit… one time is simply not enough. Of course, even after the return you follow events and news from this country with sincere interest. Apparently, Iceland mercifully spared me the volcanic eruption of Bárðarbunga, and I haven’t had the chance to witness that breathtaking event. Information about a ninety metres long monster, living peacefully in Lagarfljót lake, reached me only after my return too. Well… I’ll get you next time, monster!

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Agnieszka Kaczmarek

Advices for life

– hang out with Erasmus an attend their events also with Universities

-Find on facebook and google pages about Events in your NEW city/ country and try to attend all of them J it’s fun, usually for free and event if you don’t like something you will meet people and know something new

– don’t search excuses search reasons to do things

– don’t be sad if you don’t have money there is still hundreds things u can do without them, just be creative

– Don’t fall in love if you are not ready for crazy thinks because then you will have small or big problem ;p

– fight till the end

– LEARN LANGUAGE my big mistake I screw!

Advices for work

  • Respect chance u get and give a lot
  • Keep balance to not became free employer
  • If some problems are not possible to solve try to be flexible and focus on things are worth your attention
  • Listen to people but don’t be a robot
  • Party’s are cool but from time to time try to organize also something neither in your organization or in private time: movie nights, trips, workshop

And remember: There is always way to achieve something, even if not exactly what we wanted but something which might be also cool

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MILENA 

Hello, I am Milena for Poland. I had been a volunteer in Tbilisi, Georgia, for one year. During that time I had gained valuable experience, which I want to share with you. I hope that it will be useful 🙂

  1. Choose your project carefully – voluntary programs are a great opportunity to learn more about yourself, but you will enjoy it only if you are totally interested in it. If you like ecology, languages, art or anything else, try to choose something related to it. Only in that way you will learn a lot and you will spend your time in the best way.
  2. Prepare for changes – different time zone, languages, climate, people, food – everything can be a bit strange for you at first, but you will get used to that very fast. Be flexible and accept various differences, which are going to be a part of your voluntary life. Take your favorite spices or sweets from home as you might not find them in the country where you are going to live. And you can always share it with your friends as a part of sharing your culture.
  3. Language barrier should not be a problem – even if you do not speak English well, you can still take part in a voluntary program, and I suggest it to you! You cannot imagine how much you can improve your language skills after several months of living in a foreign country, chatting with other volunteers or local people. Do not be afraid to use your gestures – they are really helpful when you forget a certain word.
  4. Travel broadens the mind – if you have a free time, travel around. Thanks to that you will learn more about the culture of the country, which you are living in, you will try local food and improve your language skills.
  5. Meet other volunteers – if you are in a bigger (or even a smaller) city, you will not be alone! There are other volunteers to hang out with. On arrival and midterm trainings are the best opportunity to meet new friends from different organizations and to share your experience.
  6. Be creative – if you think that you have no skills or knowledge, which you can share with others, probably you need more time to learn more about yourself, because everyone has something interesting to share. Just be creative and do what you enjoy!
  7. Do not waste your time – try to experience as much as you can. Make long-lasting friendships, learn and travel a lot, go out in the evenings, take part in local events, visit cinemas and theatres, and you can be sure that it will be the best time of your life!

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Painting (Summer Art Camp)

 KAMILA 

 As the destination of my short-term EVS I chose Vukovar in Croatia. My  hosting organization was Youth Peace  Group Danube. During my stay in  Vukovar I learnt few  things, not only basing on my own experience but also    regarding 8 other volunteers who were there with me. I am  glad to share  them with you. So here are the tips:

 Choose carefully your EVS project. Seems quite obvious but believe me that  some volunteers didn’t have any idea what about is our project and where  Vukovar is located in Croatia. I don’t think that you should base your choice  just on the description of the activities. Because sometimes in reality project  turns out to be totally different. If you can imagine that you are alone and  bored in the place that you chose, it means that your decision is not the  correct one. Change it… Maybe choose a place where there is a group of  volunteers (so you will never feel alone)… Or a destination that you always  wanted to visit and get to know better (so just travelling and meeting local  people there will make you happy)… Or a country where the language spoken  is interesting or useful for you (so you can improve or learn a language).

Create a learning plan. Try to think about this already before the arrival to a  foreign country and expand this plan during your EVS. What would like to  learn from your EVS? What would you like to achieve? I created my plan on a daily basis. Every day I was supposed to improve my Croatian and Italian vocabulary and  learn at least one grammar issue.

Origami workshop Regarding the activities  I decided to propose 3 different  workshops as origami,  games evenings and workshops  about travelling on a  budget. Moreover, I distributed my  travelling  destinations evenly during my whole stay in  Croatia and  planned a 10-day trip to Romania after my  stay in  Vukovar. Another target was talking with local  people so I  could practice Croatian, make new  friendships and  develop my network of professional  contacts.

 Be proactive. If you go to one of the Balkan or  Mediterranean countries, you might be surprised with  their approach to life. There everything goes slowly and it  might happen that no one will demand anything from  you. Try not to go with the flow and be active. If your  responsibilities seem for you boring or meaningless, you should talk with your organization. Communication is very important. Surely you will find some solution and you will be able to learn something new and show your abilities.

Workshops in Orahovica (On-arrival training) Use your  EVS as a chance to develop yourself and try to engage in many  activities. Because each new experience will teach you something.  For instance, I asked my hosting organization to allow me to  participate in a 10-day workcamp in Vlasenica (Bosnia and  Herzegovina). Owing to this I explored new places, met very nice  people, had a chance to speak a lot in Bosnian, did rafting,  improved my painting skills, learnt more about historical  background of the region and hitchhiked with Czech girls to  Sarajevo, Visegrad and Srebrenica.

 Add life to your days, not days to your life. This is my life  philosophy. I advise you to apply it especially during your EVS. So  don’t postpone anything that you can do right now.

At home with other volunteers

Use every day to discover something new about yourself and the surrounding world. Talk to local people. Make friendships. Integrate with your hosting organization. Motivate yourself and others. Travel. Get to know foreign cultures, historical background and cuisines. Propose your own activities. Learn the languages. Do some sport exercises. Take care of yourself and others. Use your failures as lessons for the future. Share your knowledge. Don’t complain. Smile everyday!

I wish unforgettable and meaningful EVS experiences! See you somewhere in the world!

Rafting on Tara River (Workcamp in Vlasenica)

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Carmen in Krakow

CARMEN

Hi!!! My name is Carmen, I’m from Zamora (Spain) and I was EVS in Kraków (2010-2011) my coordinating organization was STRIM and I was working as volunteer in a kindergarten.

Even if your EVS is not as good as you imagined or you have problems, or whatever, it’s a worthy experience and I truly recommend it!!

But I have some advices that I think could be useful (at least I would have liked to know before my EVS)

Before going to your EVS:

1. Make your agreement as clear as possible, they can always appear “surprises” once in the project, so try that they will be as less as possible, read it carefully and try to make clear: where you will live, what will be your work and so on. Also please read the information and try to get as much information as possible about what are your rights and duties!!! And be realistic about if EVS is really what you are searching for or not!

Europejski Dzień Morza w Gdańsku_Carmen_articleOnce in the country:

2. Learn the language of the country even if you think it will be completely useless after EVS and you realise you don’t need it to survive during your EVS, you never know what will happen after. Learn the language will make easier your integration in the country and maybe that knowledge will be can give you more opportunities to work, or you can go to a country with a similar language. Once again: you never know what will happen!!!

3. Don’t give up, sometimes your project will disappoint you. But you will realize you can always take benefits of this experience and if in your project don’t let you do things there are a lot of possibilities. So “always look on the bright side of life” and find the way to squeeze yourself and make real your ideas.

4. And as every ex-EVS will tell you, enjoy it and squeeze it as much as possible because it will be only once in your life and it’s an amazing experience of sharing, learning, discovering. So enjoy it as much as possible.

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BERK OZER

Berk and EVS friendsHi Everybody,

I am Berk from Turkey. I want to say something about my EVS time and some changes after my EVS.

Before EVS I was worry about my English because I thought people can’t understand my English or I can’t explane myself. The other point of my worry was go to new country and meet new people, new language, new dishes… When I was at the plane for go to Poland. I understand this is so different feeling than go to the holiday trip.

Berk and Hatice during presentation in local schoolAfter arrive there I met a lot of new friends and that was really wonderful feeling for me. I learnt a lot of new traditions, new dishes, new songs, new dances ( I also don’t like dance but I tried ) about countries. I was improve my English and tried to learn new languages. I know some Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian and Polish words and I can speak basic sentences. I met a lot of children and young people in there at schools and I tried to explane my culture to them.

St. Nicolas EVS group - the team at workEVS is so different and useful for university or work life. I don’t think I can feel same if I go there for work or holiday. I can give some advide about this, first of all you need to know how are you lucky than the other people for live this experience.

Second point is you need to be open minded and try to understand other people and culture.

Third and last point is you need to enjoy the fun every moments.

EVS changed my life and I understand well what is “Be world citizen” because how we have different culture and history we have a lot of common topics with all people. Religion, Politicals, Economy, History doesn’t matter for be friend with others.

Berk_the team after another promotional meetingI lived my best experiences in my life. I am so happy to be part of this company and worked with they. After the EVS I miss a lot of my life in there with my new family. I know I have new homes, new sisters and brothers in Spain, Poland, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Money can’t buy this experience never ever.

Thank you for everything and sorry for my English :))

Hoşçakalın, Good bye, довиждане, Despedida, Addio, до побачення, Pożegnanie..

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SANYA TODOROVA

Sanya Todorova, from BulgariaI took part in a short-term project for month and a half in Wiatrak Foundation, Bydgoszcz, Poland and I am very satisfied from my EVS experience! Me and the other volunteers – from Ukraine, Turkey, Spain and (of course) Bulgaria, we were organizing promotional meetings in kindergartens, schools and high schools. It was really pleasant and interesting job, but like all volunteers, we also had some problems to deal with.

In the beginning of the project I was afraid of talking in front of many people on the one hand – because it is frightening, and on the other – because of the language barrier.  I wasn’t very confident while speaking in English and I thought that people wouldn’t understand me. Luckily, everyone was really friendly and helped me to overcome my fears. In the end of my EVS I learnt some Polish words that I used during the presentations. So when you work as a volunteer abroad you might want to remember and use basic words from the foreign language so that people can understand you better.

Also, if you are bored from your job, you can try to make it more interesting by using improvisation. Don’t do the same thing every day, if some cool idea comes into your head – realize it, no matter that you haven’t planned it. During our promotional meetings, we changed the presentations few times and we included some jokes to make them fun for us and for the audience.

What’s more, it’s hard to live in a foreign country where everything is different from your homeland. Even I, who was a short-term volunteer, got homesick sometimes. There were some moments, during this month and a half, when I truly missed my friends and family. It’s normal to feel sad, but remember – after the project you will get back home and then you will regret if you didn’t take as much as you could from your EVS experience. So try to stay positive and to have fun, because EVS has a lot to offer.

 For example, during your project, you can:

Celebrate your Birthday (or someone else’s Birthday)Sanya - Celebrate your Birthday (or someone else’s Birthday)

Meet Santa (especially if your project is in the winter)Sanya - Meet Santa (especially if your project is in the winter)

Drink tea (or other hot beverage 😉 in the dormitorySanya - Drink tea (or other hot beverage ;) in the dormitory

And my favorite part – make wonderful new friendsSanya - make wonderful new friends

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VIKTORIA SOLOVYOVA

Viktoria SolovyovaLife after EVS…What happens tomorrow?

My EVS project ended 7 months ago and for a long time I thought “what did I receive from that? Did I spent my time for nothing?”
First of all, EVS for me was not project, it was part of my life: another country, another language, another culture, the people who came in my life, events that happened to me… it’s a big luggage of experience that you get after! I throw everything that came across me in that bag. It was a continuous colored mosaic of different stuff. I needed to spend 7 months to bring order into this mess.

So my life experience during my EVS life 9 months 9 points:
1. YOUR POWER INSIDE YOU circumstances of life will be changing and not always to your advantage, but no one can take away the power inside of you. You know who you are, you have the skills and talents – use it.
2. PROUD OF YOUR HOME in your country there can be a lot of mess, so you may be tempted to look for success somewhere else. I do not want to speak out the word “patriot”… “home” is warmer and closer than “motherland”. There are your mother tongue and its regional dialects, your city and its streets, your family and you friends with whom you grew up. All of these things can not be changed. These things made you what you are. Take pride in your starting point. Delete from your life people who do not respect this.
3. STRAIGHT YOUR PRIORITIES you can lose a lot of nice moments and people because you have other priorities, which eventually will become your destructive swamp.
4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF it is fine to meet someone who will take care of you but it may never happen. Be selfish and take care of yourself! 🙂
5. SURROUND YOURSELF ONLY OF NICE PEOPLE people around you must motivate you to do creative things, to have positive emotions, to be a good example. Not people who influence you destructively! No people that make you doubt yourself!
6. DO NOT LET NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES TO DOUBT YOUR TRUE DESIRE important wishes come true! A bad experience is a lesson for you to think again, are you really strongly wishing it?
7. LOOK AROUND WITH THE EYES OF A CHILD a lot of new information. Be a researcher!
8. NEVER SAY THAT YOU LOST AN OPPORTUNITY you did everything you could at that moment. All what has happened to you will be useful now. Do not allow anyone to comment on your life, first they should sort out their own lives.
9. LOVE CAN NOT BE DESTRUCTIVE. IF IT IS DESTRUCTIVE IT IS NOT LOVE. No comments.

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GOSIA RABENDA, Volunteer sent to Eskişehir, Turkey for a long-term EVS

 Tips for volunteers and video made by Gosia during her EVS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NrQv0p2RCw&feature=plcp

  “A volunteer is unhappy, unsatisfied or stuck with his/her project.. what to do? How to react?”

I think in this situation you should try to take the initiative. If you are unhappy with, for example, the workshop you run, why not to change it?  Suggest your coordinator, that instead of English class for children you can teach them ecology.  I was supposed to do graphic design and videos, but my coordinator did not give me a suggestion what exactly should I do.  Instead of complaining “I have nothing to do”,  I have found work to do myself:. Almost everything I did was my and my colleague’s idea – and as volunteers we can be more proud of it.  If you are bored, just find something to do! 

Another idea for improving your EVS is travelling. If you are unhappy, leaving the project’s place is very helpful and brings new ideas and energy. You can just go for a weekend to the nearest village or park – but do not stay in the same place all the time. 

And the most important. Focus on what is the most advantageous for you. Be a little bit egoist. Maybe learning the language will be useful for you in the future job, or maybe you can learn how to write European Projects? If you kn ow you can benefit a lot, and if you realise what is important for you, the small problems (like different food or not very luxury place to stay) are easy to stand. 

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MARCO TRIMBOLI

There we go! My name’s Marco and I’ve been a voluntary for STRIM Association (Cracow) a while ago…it’s been 4 years right now, so a pretty long while.
As an Italian volunteer in Poland, I had to deal with a lot of difficulties and even if some of them seemed to be hard, once passed, they looked pretty small.

First of all it’s, of course the language! There’s no connection between italian and polish and with all the romanian languages, so if you’d like to speak it, you cannot think you’ll just get it from listening and trying to talk on the street: you gotta study it hard! And it’s not going to be easy, cause it’s a pretty difficult language. But believe me, all the people I saw making the afford of trying, they got great results. So it’s just up to your determination, but do not forget that learn this language it’s just for strong and motivated people, but it’s totally possible to do it, so do not even give it up 😉

Another strong thing I had to face with it was homesickness. I was missing my friends and my family, so I just started writing to them what I was doing, how I was feeling, all my projects and plans, all my pictures. And until today I never stop doing it. So I definitely encourage you to write something, also a blog could be interesting, cause you’ll not loose your real friends, if you just want, if you just keep the relation fresh. And it’s not easy doing it when is far.

Last thing. Just enjoy your EVS, you’ll miss everything what happened. Bad feelings as well.  

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JOANNA FLORCZAK

I was a short term volunteer in a group EVS at Tepebaşı Municipality in a Turkish city Eskişehir in autumn (September/October) 2011. We worked at the Terracotta Symposyum as a media team.

 There are many reasons and motivations why people choose to do voluntary service abroad, especially short term, as I did . As EVS is for people from broad age range(18-30) it can mean different thing for say, recent high school graduate and for employee in his/her late twenties to name just two cases;). For some it is great way to work for a community in a foreign country, for some is a good way to… have holidays sponsored by EU, for others it is a way to discover more (about the world around, about themselves) as they are bored with their lives and routine back home, for others it just a way to postpone this “being unemployed” faith common nowadays in Europe. For others is a way to learn foreign language in a country they were fans of, for some it will be a way to meet new people, make new friendships, some want to make something meaningful for themselves and for the world;), for some with the “let’s give it a try” approach to life it will be another role they want to test themselves at. You name it.

Here are some of my tips for volunteers-to-be. Of course terribly biased as gained with experiences in specific time and place.

Before going.

Ask yourself what you actually want to do?

If you want to spend meaningful time abroad do some research first! Choose your host/co-ordinating organization carefully. First impressions as for example e-mail communication with coordinating/hosting organization might be a good indicator of how smooth future cooperation will be. If it takes long, or even looooooong time to answer your questions about the upcoming project by them then think twice if you want to cooperate with people that at this stage cannot give you precise or just any answers. You are after all, dedicating your life and your time to do something. Value it!

An NGO as a host organization might be more flexible than local government. It can differ according to country but in my case the answer to some problems that we had was that municipality with beaurocratic (means a lot of people to approve a solution) structure cannot give us answers as soon as possible to some of our urgent questions and approve simple solutions that we made. It all took more time than needed and therefore we could not progress with the project activities and do as much as we wanted.

If the organisation you gonna work at already have some experiences with hosting volunteers ask them for contacts to ex-volunteers. It is always good to hear their experiences and get more precise and more honest information about project environment than you will get from the activity agreement or project description to be found on the database.

Or… if you just don’t want to bother with the above, go! It might be that the spontaneous decision of going to the country you have never thought of going and doing those sorts of things you have never been thinking about can lead you to the best time of your life. So if you feel like taking chances, do it. There are more ways than one….

When your project has already started and you are already abroad.

Do study the language! No matter if you are in the host country for a month or two and no matter how well people around you have mastered English. People usually do appreciate efforts you are making to communicate with them in their mother tongue. English is great tool yes, but why not to acquire new skill while it is possible and for free? Use this opportunity to grow!

If there are problems. The best solution is to communicate, communicate and once again communicate. Tell about what you don’t like to your mentor, project coordinator or to anyone in he host/co-ordinating organization that you think could help you. Don’t wait too long. Sometimes even stupid things grow into big problems. Usually, talking things over in an honest way helps to sort things out.
For me my time spent in Eskişehir was great, because I could check how is to live in a town that I had chance to visit before for a short while only, saw how things are working in a public institution there among other things and had a good time with co-volunteers and locals. And what is important, we manage to maintain friendships that started there. We are continuing the YIA experience as we are currently preparing youth exchange that is going to take place in Estonia soon.

Enjoy, experience and discover. EVS time is a great time. You will miss it. I can assure you.

Best of luck!

Aśka

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MARIE MAGAR

The first thing I can say is that EVS wasn’t an error. We took, cause at the beginning we were two (a couple), the decision to go abroad. The choice was Poland.
First cause, it helps me a lot with this relationship. Without any judgement or bad thought, this relation wasn’t good. The person I’ve met abroad was totally different, but people have their reasons. Then it comes up to them to reflect on what they did, and what they learned about themselves. I’ll just say, it was really painful.
But also great, cause I’ve grown a lot, also learnt who are my friends.
This is globally the things I’ve learned here: people are judging. They are punishing more because they are enable to be honest with themselves and their environment.
My project was amazing. I mean, sharing all days so much love with the children was a pleasure. I still have a lot of pictures and, as I stay in Poland, I’ll go to see them again.
The problem I’ve met was caused more because of the gap between my expectations and the reality. First I’ve dreamed about people considering other people. It wasn’t really the case. Some speeches were about alcohol, girls and [sex]. Then I’ve made the choice to not put myself with the group. So, actually, to stay out. (I’m also judging while saying that. I know.)
About EVS, I’ve found out the problem during the mid term training. When the trainer spoke about all the things that should be done during the EVS. Unfortunately, the energy I had was wasted by relations. So I didn’t demonstrate so much motiviation. And the people were more waiting for after my ideas, the realization. I was asking for more support. It was, probably, a misunderstanding. And I didn’t had the feeling to speak about it.
The situation went on getting worst, and I was more and more useless sitting and earning money without making the THINGS I should do.
So if I take the EVS by this point of view, it’s was more a proof of my letting go.
When now I reflect about the tips I can give, the first is to be honest. What are your real expectations. What EVS is giving to you. And what are YOU giving to the project.
After it’s a matter of reflecting. Who you were at the beginning, who you are now. And what you wanna build.
For me it was the time to really grow up. To take real decisions, and not as usual to stay comfortable in my status between an adult and a child.
I’m happy I know myself better than ever, and I’m truly aware about what I did, what was good, what wasn’t.
Now, I stay in Poland. I undertake all the stuff I’ve never had the “balls” to do!

Marie

________________________________________________________________________________________________

DANIEL JARA FERNANDEZ

My name is Daniel Jara. I’m from Spain and currently doing my Voluntary Service in Poland. I’m working at Fundacja im. ks. Siemaszki, at the international department where they run exchange programs with an international organization: AFS.

I have been studying Journalism and Audiovisual Communication in Spain and at the same time, volunteering with this organization many years in my country. And I was very excited when I got the call to apply for an EVS project. But also afraid: there wouldn’t be, almost, any connection at all between my 5 years at Uni and my service abroad. However, the fact that it may be quite hard to find something to do after uni and it would be a great chance to discover deeply and other paths of volunteering in my organization made up my mind and here I am after almost 4 months.

The most important thing is to be convinced of living a new experience. It’s not so important or relevant if your project is related to what you want to do with your future.  Opportunities like this make you more open minded, independent, self-confidence, tolerant and it might be a way to jump into professional work. In my case, I spend many hours in the office arranging exchanges abroad with Polish students; I also prepare some promotional materials and activities for hosting or sending students with educational programs.

Language is a big barrier, as you have to force people to speak English if they want to communicate with you. In my situation, it’s good for students who want to go abroad with a year or trimester program because it’s a way for them to practice. But, for example, I cannot carry out some tasks like promoting organization in schools or meeting families that host students here in Poland, as the communication language must be Polish. Anyway, in those situations, it’s also interesting to be there anyways. You’re in a different country and everything might be new for you. Even though sometimes you might feel like a ‘decorative element’, you get a reward when someone shows interest on what you are doing. And of course it depends on the project the volunteer is doing and the people you are meeting. But in these cases, knowing the language helps extremely a lot. I just can say few things in Polish and it’s still very difficult to have a normal conversation for me. Polish is a really complicated language (in my opinion) and even thought it’s very comfortable to use English (as almost everyone can handle), there’s a point when it starts to be quite annoying not to understand what’s going around you and also to avoid some misunderstandings or embarrassing situations.

I see EVS as a time for you to learn to handle by yourself. Therefore, overcoming difficult, frustrating or uncomfortable situations is very enriching. I have usually thought that I may be wasting my time sitting at this office for many hours and sending emails to different countries or arranging visa stuff, but it’s worth it when you find yourself as if you were one more at the office or in your surroundings.

And I’m completely sure that when I go back in November, all the experiences that I have been living here in Cracow will have make some changes on me and I will realize how much I have gained in these 9 months.

The best of luck, motivation and willing for your project!!!

Hi!!! My name is Carmen, I’m from Zamora (Spain) and I was EVS in Kraków (2010-
2011) my coordinating organization was STRIM and I was working as volunteer in
a kindergarten.

Even if your EVS is not as good as you imagined or you have problems, or
whatever, it’s a worthy experience and I truly recommend it!!

But I have some advices that I think could be useful (at least I would have liked to
know before my EVS)

Before going to your EVS:

1. Make your agreement as clear as possible, they can always appear “surprises”
once in the project, so try that they will be as less as possible, read it carefully
and try to make clear: where you will live, what will be your work and so on. Also
please read the information and try to get as much information as possible about
what are your rights and duties!!! And be realistic about if EVS is really what you
are searching for or not!

Once in the country:

2. Learn the language of the country even if you think it will be completely
useless after EVS and you realise you don’t need it to survive during your EVS,
you never know what will happen after. Learn the language will make easier your
integration in the country and maybe that knowledge will be can give you more
opportunities to work, or you can go to a country with a similar language. Once
again: you never know what will happen!!!

3. Don’t give up, sometimes your project will disappoint you. But you will realize
you can always take benefits of this experience and if in your project don’t let you
do things there are a lot of possibilities. So “always look on the bright side of life”
and find the way to squeeze yourself and make real your ideas.

4. And as every ex-EVS will tell you, enjoy it and squeeze it as much as possible
because it will be only once in your life and it’s an amazing experience of sharing,
learning, discovering. So enjoy it as much as possible.

2 Responses to “Tips 4 volunteers”

  1. Jessy Shaw Tue, June 23, 2015 at 16:47 #

    My teenage daughter has been wanting to do some volunteer work abroad in South America so I have been doing a lot of research! I think it would be such a great opportunity to help those with less that us and do things for others! It amazes me how much time is dedicated to doing these activities! Thanks for the tips and all that you do!

    • evswise Tue, June 23, 2015 at 17:59 #

      Thank you! We do our best to raise future volunteers’ knowledge on EVS activities 🙂

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