Niklas, a 27 years old man straight outta Stockholm, share with us his experience as Volunteer in a public library, lost in a small town of Lithuania near to the Baltic sea and to Latvia.
Project duration: 7 months (02/01/2018-08/31/2018)
Hej Niklas! Tell us what is your volunteering activity about? How is it going?
I am certainly enjoying myself, and picking up knowledge where I can, in my interaction with the community, of which there is much, and in performing the role of an educator.
What surprised you (positively or negatively) when you started your volunteering adventure?
How is your social life besides work? (with volunteers, flatmates, local people...)
Naturally, then, my social life is taken care off by default, and so far, I have definitely not felt the absence of sufficient, social interaction. Be that as it may, Skuodas is a small and rather isolated place, divorced from the urban centers of Lithuania; if one comes here, to one of the "outbacks" of Europe, one must have at least a taste for quiet evenings, long bus-rides, and forested farmlands (and that is perhaps an understatement).
How is Lithuania different from your country?
As a Scandinavian, i.e. having spent most of my formative years on the Baltic shores, neither weather-related phenomena (cold and coldness) nor paganism (such as the tradition of burning evil spirits) feels alienating or impenetrable. It is cold, and people regard themselves as being cold - not unlike where I am from. There are differences, however, and in order to understand as well as respect them, one must study the history constituting their very condition. That said, we are all Europeans. And in fact, most people over here are celebrating that identity.
Do you feel the language barrier?
Yes, certainly: English is a rare but much-wanted resource in this part of Lithuania, meaning that one must often communicate with the help of an unwilling translator (or not at all). When speaking to my Director, for example, i.e. my boss, a third, English-speaking person is required.
What did you learn about yourself so far?
Finally then, being in Skuodas, one will inevitably find time for self-reflection and thinking; but what I find more important is the fact that here, at the end of the Lithuanian and perhaps also European world (whatever that may be taken to mean), there are more than enough opportunities to reflect on the social, economic, and political workings of past, present, and future, or put more succinctly: the socio-cultural developments of modern, European Lithuania. And one's place within that development? Perhaps not as simple (nor ideal) as it was initially conceived.