EVS: (E)xperience (V)ia (S)olidarity
The project took place in:
Long term volunteering
Written by Angelilki Kavallieratou
Ask people around you what is EVS. Do you think that they know the answer? Well, it is difficult to say that with certainty but the common reaction that people have when I am saying that I am doing my EVS is with a huge question mark. But it is completely understandable as I had the same question mark back in the summer when I started the EVS process.
I searched it online, I asked people that knew about it, I made the applications, I had my hesitations and when finally I was accepted…then… more fears, more question marks and doubts for this decision. Possible fears that a candidate volunteer can have: NGO, accommodation, money, emotions, doubts for you, doubts for the unknown, for your career.
Then, a big surprise is in the corner waiting of you. The start day of your EVS will come and day after day you will realize how different (in a positive way) the things are from what you had in your mind.
Being away from your family and people you know is hard and it will always be but it is time for you to think about your priorities, your aims and your desire for your next steps in your life. There will be moments that you will feel melancholic and possibly a little bit depressed but most of the time your mood will be positive as far as you sustain a nice plan in your mind and you do things that cover your needs. Starting travelling, exploring, meeting new people, having fun, tasting, starting new activities, learning from your job and improving yourself will be the key points to get over any negative part. Don’t forget that people next to you will continue to be even if you are far from them. It is nice sometimes to “test” yourself and your capacities. You will be impressed of how many things you will face, things that before you could not even imagine. The most amazing part is that you will entirely face them well.
Multiculturalism, foreigners, a variety of people, cultures, mentalities and nationalities. No need to feel fear. You will really get used on that very quickly. It is a normal reaction of ourselves when we meet something new. But I am pretty sure that your current location has also multicultural identity; you probably just don’t give so much attention. In addition, keep in mind that you will pass a readjusting period but you will soon find your ways with everything new. Or maybe you will get addicted on the new…as I did!
NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) is an organization set up by ordinary citizens, may be funded by governments, foundations, businesses, or private persons. Although they are very diverse they all usually have in common a vision of a better world. The European Voluntary Service (EVS) gives young people the opportunity to express their personal commitment through full-time voluntary work in a foreign country within or outside the EU. It can sound like theories but when you start you will see that behind the words there is real action. Organizations try to support and provide services having a mission for a better world. The world cannot change in one day but there are people that work for something better and as far as you will be a volunteer you will really feel that you are part of that. It’s a really unique feeling.
NGO’s are mostly unknown so the fears that you have for your safety and your working conditions are logical and there are possibilities to be accepted in a not well organized programme. So, my advice is to be selective and careful with what the application writes. You can also figure out things during the communication that you will have with each NGO. Keep in mind that you will be part of an Erasmus Plus programme so you are totally protected from the European Union. Even your tasks are specific and you know them before you arrive somewhere. The funny thing is that after one week in your NGO you will feel friend with everyone so the fear that you had would be just a joke.
An EVS can be vital for your career life. What do I mean? It depends on what you will choose and how will you use it. There are programmes that can give you skills that you did not have and programmes that can be related to your field. It is up to you to select something according to your needs. The only certain thing is that you develop yourself in many ways and you learn to work in a different environments. It is a good opportunity even for people that have work experience. Extra skills, extra points to your resume, new opportunities, extra experiences and more open doors for job vacancies. You will receive a certificate called Youthpass, where everything you did and you gained from this programme will be described there.
Salary, money… tough topic but still not a such a strong obstacle. The pocket money and the allowance that the European Union provides for a volunteer doesn’t allow you to waste money here and there but it can cover basic needs that you have What you need to be focused is on the benefits that you have from the whole programme. You will see that you will be satisfied with less money and you will learn how to manage and control you expenses.
The accommodation in an EVS is provided and depending on the arrangement, it can be a room in a family house or a shared house (with shared room or your own room). Well, I could not imagine that I will say that but you learn so many things from staying below the same roof. You share, you split, you arrange, you keep even your patience sometimes, you control, you respect, and you appreciate… your flat mates. They may sounds unimportant and childish to you or you may also think that you have learned all these since your were in the school at the young ages but you would be surprised.
More and more things can be written but the key point is that an EVS can be a new step for new gateways without any doubt.