Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Niklas R. - Interview of a Swedish Volunteer at R. Granausko Viešoji Biblioteka (Skuodas, Lithuania)

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 working in a public library in the Skuodas-district of Northwestern Lithuania. More than anything else, I am teaching languages (different levels of proficiency) as well as organizing (i.e. planning, researching, writing, and designing) exhibitions presently traveling around the region. Besides these activities, I am helping my colleagues where I can, in planning local events, and in making contacts abroad (for visits, exchange of ideas, etc.).
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?

If anything surprised me coming here, it must have been the concern shown by the local members of the Skuodas-community, most if not all of them worrying that we - the volunteers - would not enjoy ourselves, an anxious form of hospitality also enforced by the lack of self-confidence making itself present throughout the rural, Samogitian region.

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.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rita Gutiérrez Anechina - Interview of a Spanish Volunteer at "Mes kitokie" (Kaunas, Lithuania)

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Rita share with us her experience as Volunteer in Lithuania from October 2017 to June 2018 (9 months).


Monday, May 7, 2018

Paulina Schulz - Interview of a German Volunteer at Vyturys gymnasium (Kaunas, Lithuania)

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Paulina share with us her experience as Volunteer in Lithuania from October 2017 to May 2018 (7 months).


Friday, April 20, 2018

Márton Jinda - Interview of a Hungarian Volunteer at Kauno Vinco Kudirkos Viešoji Biblioteka (Kaunas, Lithuania)

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Márton share with us his experience as Volunteer in Lithuania from September 2017 to April 2018 (8 months).


Hanna Kornilenko - Interview of an Ukrainian Volunteer at Vyturys gymnasium (Kaunas, Lithuania)

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Hanna share with us her experience as Volunteer in Lithuania from October 2017 to March 2018 (6 months).


Monday, September 25, 2017

Life is unpredictable. Albina

One of the biggest chapters of my life is over. But I know it’s just a new beginning. Life is unpredictable. If one year ago somebody told me about all these incredible things, what happened to me, I wouldn’t believe it.
My working place was amazing and very cozy. People working there made everything in order I feel myself like at home.  My stunning director always supported and helped me. Due to her I knew that I can organize any project and  get her advice. She was also my tutor.

I have never thought that I can be a teacher and a leader. EVS project made me confident that all doors can be open and nothing impossible. Always believe in the best and the dreams will come true. My personal projects were enjoyment for me and useful experience. I was thinking for couple months what exactly I wanted to do. And finally I found two interesting ideas for me and my organization – lessons of Russian language and art-therapy for EVS-volunteers. I remember how much I was nervous first time and how it was pity to finish it. I still miss it, but I hope to continue my work with youngsters in Russia at least promoting EVS.

When our coordinator Ingrida offered us to join Regbio Veteranu Klubas and help them with learning English I was among people who refused. But my flatmate began to work there and eventually I became a member of this cool group of people. They are really incredible and every week we spent very funny time together. We visited museums, organized national dinners and, of course, learned English.
Last year I discovered a new passion for me, which I have never expected. Climbing became important part of my life and changed my priorities and even life-style. Now I value more  my health and care of myself. Due to my Italian friend I fulfilled my dream and participated in one of the largest climbing and bouldering meeting in Europe. I saw the Alps and it was unforgettable feeling.

The life is continuing, I built new dreams and set big goals. Some of them came true, another – will not. But I never stop to strive. I keep insight what I have discovered for myself during EVS and follow this feeling.      
                                                                                       ALBINA ABZALOVA

Friday, August 11, 2017

The power of EVS. Amalie

Some days before I bought the ticket to go back to Armenia. The end of EVS is very near, one month, some weeks and I would be called Ex EVS volunteer. Yeah.. now I am participating in everybody's goodbye party and then I would also close the page of EVS generation 2016-2017. I do remember when the previous volunteer Luca was telling me about the project, he said " hey, it's gonna be your best year". And now when it is already "the end" I can confirm that it is and it is true EVS does a lot and changes you. You go out from your comfort zone and you discover a new person (the most popular expression during your EVS "comfort zone"). And now bababaaam, here is my EVS story, let's go!

What is EVS for me ? 

When you meet an EVS volunteer everything is already said, another member of our big EVS family. It doesn't matter the person where is from, what background he/she has, how old the volunteer is, nothing matters. The person has chosen to be an EVS volunteer and that is all. My dear reader if you are an EVS volunteer now you would say " yes, exactly", if not let me introduce our world. We are people who have decided to stop our usual life and enter another unknown world. As if there was a game in our country and we decided just to take some months or one year break and face something totally different. The game keeps going on with the same heroes but we are not there anymore, now we are heroes of "EVS community" game. We meet amazing volunteers from other countries, we work in different places where they need extra help, we do our best to be useful, and the most important is we get a kind of valuable experience which could be very helpful for our whole life.
So I also chose to be one of the heroes of this "EVS game" and here is my EVS in Kaunas, Lithuania at A.C. Patria and "Vartai" youth center. 

What is my project and how I feel about it ?

"Volunteer center"
The best part of my EVS are the people, I met many individuals from different countries due to whom I understood that the world is one and we are not different as we were born in other nations. People are the same you just need to find YOUR people. In the organization where I work they like me and respect my personality, they help me to get new experience and encourage me to go further. I am one of the luckiest volunteers who have 2 different projects, actually it is one project which is shared into 2 "jobs". My main project is at the volunteer center of A.C. Patria which in my opinion is "an organization to help people". There are many social workers or phycologists who mostly work with young people who need personal and also some financial support. And me ? What I am doing here ?

 I help the workers to organize some events, to promote their projects and to make my own projects too. Here I take some photos or videos of events, as well as conduct some presentations spreading EVS idea to young people of Lithuania. You've already felt how happy I am being an EVS volunteer, so when I have the chance to tell about it that gives me only pleasure. And by the way once I made a movie about this organization, they liked a lot and they are using it quite often. So I believe this is volunteering when you try to make something nice and when it's done you feel yourself super happy and "useful". 

So if there I can share my skills and help them with their work, at the youth center "Vartai" day by day I realize I am getting a new profession which is called "social working". A very colorful and gamy place where almost every day young people come and spend their free and safe time. Sounds a little bit strange, I agree but wait. In the beginning it was super strange for me also to understand the meaning of this center and what is important to find my place here. I have never seen such a place in my life, there are day care centers for children, centers for people who have disabilities, or could be centers for different sport or music activities but what is this ? Young people at different ages come and spend 4 hours of their day and they feel so happy and safe as if it is their home. And actually it is, for some of them sure more than home, their all friends are here, workers who always listen to them and support are here, games or different activities are also in Vartai, so that is why some of the youngsters visit this place even more than 3 years. And finally me ? 

Here I organize some activities and make some workshops to make their day interesting. I share my "volunteer position" with other 2 crazy and amazing volunteers Ionuts and Migel, and the best activity we have done since now is our "Karaoke day". We just prepare everything and youngsters sing all day long, we are all here like movie stars, everybody chooses the song and let's go.. And who says that most of us have a kind of horrible voice, we just enjoy our time. Besides these happy events I also have days when I talk to them and they trust me their stories. So I just listen to them and advise. All in all I am following how our professional social workers work in this center and I try to do the same in my way.  

And finally how EVS has changed me ? 

Before I was not travelling and I was always staying in my country with locals. And I always wanted to know the world, to go out of the country and meet different nations. And this year I did it, I have chosen one country Lithuania but I met so many different nations. I always consider that I live in small Europe as "countries are the people" and I have those people next to me. I get "the first hand" information almost from everybody about their countries and nations. I am also glad that others got to know my culture due to me. Besides this amazing EVS community I also travelled a lot in Europe and I realized the most important people are very different but at the same time they are the same, just take your time and know the person. 

By the way for the first time of my life I have also tried hitchhiking here and I got addicted to it. " Don't worry if you don't have money, if you want to travel just go ahead". I live this way now and that first experience was with my EVS friends when we went to Klaipeda, and there totally I went out from my comfort zone, also first time in my life I slept in a tent with a sleeping bag.... Yeah.. sounds strange that I had never had that experience before but now EVS gave the opportunity. So leaving abroad and traveling, meeting new people changed me so much that I am afraid to go back and start the same life as I had before. But I am sure it would not be the same as I am not anymore that Amaly, things and my people would stay the same but I would be another person as I had decided to be an EVS volunteer. 

                                                                        AMALIE KHACHATRYAN