Living in a new city is always an adventure that, sometimes, could lead to a bad end. Here comes a summary of all the things that took us months to discover and that we would have preferred to know beforehand: Continue reading
Wilkommen and bienvenido from us, Irene and Miriam, who until the end of July 2014 will be EVS volunteers in Banska Bystrica. During our stay, we will try to post on a weekly basis about our activities and experiences abroad. We are not only very much looking forward to discovering Slovakia, its customs and its people, but also to getting to know what it really means to be part of a voluntary project.
Miriam: I am 20 years old, and I am not from too far away actually – I come from Austria. So it is not too big a change in the weather or the landscape :). When I heard about the EVS program I was immediately excited and knew it was something I would like to do, so I am very happy that I am here in Slovakia now. Being abroad plus doing this kind of voluntary work seemed like the perfect mixture for a ‘gap year‘ in between my English and Linguistic studies at university. Besides language, music is one of my greatest passions, and I would love if I had the chance here to participate in or create some activity related to music. Staying here in Banska Bystrica is my first long term experience with being abroad, and I really think this year could be a chance to grow and to discover ‘hidden things’ in myself I had no idea they were there. Furthermore I am very curious about intercultural experiences – not only with Slovak people, but also with other EVS volunteers.
Irene: I am a twenty-one-years-old Spanish girl. I have always felt a strong fascination about other languages and cultures. That’s why after my first two years of my degree I decided to course the third one in London. This made me more conscious of how I long for living in other countries and facing new tasks. Consequently, once I finished my degree in Spanish Philology in Málaga, Spain, and before deepen into my studies, I decided to take part in a totally new experience. That is why I applied for EVS and, especially, for Slovakia, due to my interest in knowing a life-style as different as the Spanish one. Besides, This project seemed to me the perfect chance to offer a little help to the Slovak community and to develop my own skills and self-knowledge.My main aim here is, on the one hand, to explore the Slovak landscapes and, on the other hand, to be able to fit and contribute in some way in their way of living life.
Wilkommen a bienvenido od nás, Irene a Miriam, ktoré budeme do konca Júla 2014 dobrovoľníčkami EDS v Banskej Bystrici. Počas nášho pobytu skúsime každý týždeň publikovať novinky o našich skúsenostiach v zahraničí. Nielenže sa veľmi tešíme na objavovanie Slovenska, jeho zvykov a ľudí, ale aj na to, čo to znamená byť súčasťou dobrovoľníckeho projektu.
Miriam: Mám 20 rokov a vlastne nie som vôbec z ďaleka – pochádzam z Rakúska. Takže rozdiel v počasí ani v krajine pre mňa nie je veľký J. Keď som sa dopočula o programe Európskej dobrovoľníckej služby (EDS), hneď som bola preň nadšená a vedela som, že je to niečo, čo by som chcela robiť. Preto som veľmi šťastná, že som teraz na Slovensku. Byť v zahraničí a robiť tento typ dobrovoľníckej práce mi pripadalo ako ideálna kombinácia pre môj „oddychový rok“ v rámci štúdia angličtiny a lingvistiky na univerzite. Okrem jazyka je jednou z mojich najväčších vášní hudba a bola by som veľmi rada, keby som tu mala možnosť podieľať sa na nejakej, alebo vytvoriť nejakú hudobnú aktivitu. Pobyt tu v Banskej Bystrici je mojou prvou dlhodobou skúsenosťou v zahraničí a myslím si, že tento rok by pre mňa mohol byť šancou na rozvoj a objavenie „skrytých vecí“ v sebe, o ktorých som nevedela. Taktiež som veľmi zvedavá na „interkultúrne“ skúsenosti – nielen so slovenskými ľuďmi, ale aj s inými dobrovoľníkmi EDS.
Irene: Som dvadsaťjednaročné španielske dievča. Vždy som bola veľmi fascinovaná inými jazykmi a kultúrami. Preto som sa po prvých dvoch rokoch štúdia rozhodla absolvovať tretí rok v Londýne. Toto mi pomohlo uvedomiť si, ako túžim žiť v iných krajinách a zaoberať sa novými vecami. Preto potom, ako som získala titul zo španielskej filológie v Malage v Španielsku a predtým, ako budem pokračovať v štúdiu, som sa rozhodla pre úplne novú skúsenosť. Z toho dôvodu som sa uchádzala o EDS a obzvlášť o Slovensko, kvôli môjmu záujmu o spoznanie životného štýlu, ktorý je úplne iný než ten španielsky. Okrem toho mi tento projekt pripadal ako výborná príležitosť ponúknuť trochu svojej pomoci slovenskej komunite a rozvíjať svoje schopnosti a sebapoznanie. Mojim hlavným cieľom tu je objavovať slovenskú krajinu a na druhej strane byť schopná zapadnúť a nejako prispieť k miestnemu spôsobu žitia.
In May we had a very interesting and unusual event – the youth camp “Time machine”. I, as an initiator of the event was very, very happy and really excited. That is the reason why I still want to share with you about it, even though the activity passed several months ago 🙂
First, let me tell you something about the idea for the camp. I have always been excited to participate in various youth projects, trainings, exchanges, camps and any other kind of activities, which involve many young participants. On the other hand, as an “active young person” I started to become curious and eager to see what is to be “from the other side” – what it is like to be organizer of such kind of events and that was actually my reason to chose my EVS project to be in a youth centre. In connection with this I have to admit, that I was happy to become part of a quite flexible project, providing an opportunity to each one of the volunteers to suggest, plan, organize and implement own activities, according to his/her own interest. Of course, considering this, one of the ideas for my activities was to organize a youth camp. I was also quite lucky that this crazy idea (to organize camp for 10-15 international youngsters, sleeping in tents for several days) was approved and supported by my hosting organization (and I am very thankful about it!).
Okay, we got the decision that we will organize a camp, but what will be the topic? Also, it was not hard to find – I had a list of suggestions, which we have carefully discussed with my coordinator and finally we chose one of them (actually my favourite one) – to invite every participant to present old traditional outdoor games for children from his/ her country and in the end we were going to make a game collection from all the suggestions.
So, after we knew what we are going to do, we needed to invite participants. I had the strong wish to invite all my friends, the other EVS volunteers and also some youngsters from Slovakia. I was so happy surprised by my friends who immediately liked the idea and decided to join. About the Slovak youngsters – it was a challenge to get to them (maybe we didn’t find the most efficient way to communicated and to invite them), so we didn’t get any… But still we got quite a rich and interesting group 🙂
We had some weeks of preparation (planning, preparing information, creating documents, registration form, logo…) which was so much pleasure for me, so I didn’t feel how the time passed… So, in the end finally came the first day of the camp. I was very enthusiastic and excited, but also extremely nervous. Of course there was some things, which happened not the way I have planned – we had rain, a bit delay in the program, problems with the fire, some strange unknown people, who came to disturb the activity. I was really about to freak out! Also I was worried not only about some fails of the organization, but also about the weather – it was not very promising and I was really afraid if the participants would like the camp and would stay till the end. But all the stress and worries passed when we have made the evaluation in the first evening. I was so good surprised by all the nice things, which the other volunteers said, so I even started to feel happy and to become more optimistic about the next days. 🙂
The second day of the camp started much better. Well, we had again a challenge to set the fire on (it had rained all night long, so on the morning all the wood was completely wet), but our brave and dedicated fire-(starter)-man Miguel made a real miracle, so in the end we had a quite nice breakfast with hot tea and coffee :)) After the breakfast we started playing the first games, which Nara presented to us. From the very beginning when we started to play I saw how everybody started smiling and forgot about all the complication previous day, the terribly cold night and the wet morning. From that moment till the last day of the activity I think there was some kind of a magic – everybody was feeling happy and light-hearted and really enjoying to be part of the activity and to go back to the childhood playing his/her favourite children-games (or at least to me looked so). I was also very happy, because one of my big dreams came true, I was thankful to all the people, who supported me and joined, but the most I was happy, because I was seeing the happy faces of my friends and we had a really great time together. I will never forget how enthusiastic all the participants were while presenting the games and how active were the rest of the volunteers (and we all were surprised how many similarities we found in the games played in quite different and distant countries). I will never forget our delicious meals, which we cooked on our own on the fire, how organized were the people on duty to clean the dishes and how exciting was to share the big old military tent, which became our home for four days. I will never forget the happy days, full of laughs and positiveness, our evening talks around the fire and the way how I discovered each one in a new and wonderful way, showing me how lucky I am to have such great persons as friends!
I want to say again a big, big, biiig THANK YOU to all the people who joined the activity and helped me:
Our great participants: Nara, Miguel, Manu, Simon, Lenka, Barbara, Andrea, Zanda, Hansol, Lilyanna, Aneta.
My coordinator – Andy (who really made a lot of work, for the camp to become true)
The great colleagues from CVČ – Junior for the great support (and special thanks to Jarka, who helped us to find a big pot for cooking the meals and Eva, who borrowed us the big spoon for cooking 🙂
And Mr. Kubica (the owner of the camp place) for being such a great host for us during these four days 🙂
And last, but not least – let me share the result of the whole camp activity – the game collection (it took time to finish it, but it is finally ready, so I am very happy to introduce it:)). It consists of all the games, presented by the participants during the camp. It can be used as a tool with ideas for in- and outdoor activities with kids, but also some of the ideas are suitable for ice-brakers, energizers and team-building games. Hope you would like it and use it.
P. S. In case you find any misspelling, wrong word or some expression, which is not clear, you can always contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be glad to correct or explain everything needed.
Today I would like to speak a bit more in detail about the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which is basically the reason why we are volunteering in Slovakia 🙂 On the basis of the questions people generally ask us, here’s some important information about EVS.
What is EVS?
The European Voluntary Service is a wonderful opportunity offered by the European Commission to young people to spend sometime volunteering abroad.
Who can apply?
Young people between 18 and 30 years old who are resident in the accredited sending organisation’s country, that’s to say in all the countries of the European Union, plus some more.
How long does EVS last?
Generally from 2 to 12 months.
What can be the projects about?
There’s a wide variety of topis ranging from environmental and animal protection to cultural heritage and arts, youth, sports, children, disabled, development cooperation and many more.
In which countries can volunteers go to for EVS?
All the European Union member states plus Iceland, Turkey, Lichtenstein, Norway, Neighbouring Partner Country, Mediterranean countries, Eastern-Europe countries, Caucasus countries. To sum it up, in all the countries where there are hosting organisations.
First of all, you need to find a sending organisation in your home country, which will provide you with all the information you will need and help you looking for a project suitable for you. My advice is to think carefully about the kind of project you would like to do and about the country you would like to go. At the bottom of the page you can find the database with all the projects and the accredited EVS sending and hosting organisations. Once you have selected an interesting project, you need to prepare and send to the hosting organisation a well written cv (europass format) and motivation letter in English. Sometimes your sending organisation can help you in this step.
Do you need to have previous experience in the field of the project?
Normally you don’t. In case you do, it’s written in the description.
You don’t, but you should be able to communicate in English.
Do you need money to apply?
No, you don’t need to pay anything. During EVS you will receive accommodation, food and pocket money. As for the travel costs, you can be asked to pay just 10% of them.
How long before departure do you need to start researching?
To have more opportunities to be recruited for a project you are really interested in, my advice is to start researching about 8 or at least 6 months before departure.
During EVS you learn so many things that it’s really hard to make a complete list, but I’ll try to mention at least some of them: you increase the opportunities to find a job afterwards, you improve your English and learn another language, you get to know another culture, you become more open minded, you improve your interaction with people, you feel how good it is to help others, you get to know a lot of people from all around the world, you have a lot of fun, you have some time to stop and think about what you really want to achieve in your life, you have some time to do things you have never had time to do. I’ll stop here not to be boring, but I could go on for hours 🙂
To have more info, feel free to contact CVČ-JUNIOR, one of the accredited sending and hosting organisations in Slovakia. In addition, as volunteers we’ll be happy to answer to all your questions and curiosities.
Here’s some more material
- General info on EVS (in English and Slovak)
- Accredited organisations database (in English and Slovak)
- Youth Networks website, where you can find current vacancies
- CVČ-JUNIOR handout (in Slovak) Základné informacie o EDS