- A chance to experience life in a different culture
“I believe the programme offers valuable experiences to young people and has certainly prepared me for whatever future career I decide to pursue. I have been put into situations I would not normally have had to deal with and have been successful, which has given me confidence in my abilities, old and new”.
These were the conclusions drawn by Olesia Gendziora
, a 23-year -old student from Leeds, United Kingdom, who took part in one of the programme of the EVS 2009 in Dortmund, Germany. Olesia is studying at the University of Leeds and part of her degree was to spend a compulsory year abroad.
“There were a few different options available to me, either working full time, by teaching English as an assistant in a German school, or going to a German University. I chose to do EVS and the University allowed this to count as full time employment as the weekly hours were the same as a full time job. I also had personal reasons to go to Germany. I have been to this country before and fell in love with its culture, people and beautiful nature”.
From organising concerts to planning travel programmes for students
Olesia says that she had a lot of interesting duties in Dortmund: “Just a few examples are: the organisation and implementation of projects, exhibitions and concerts and preparing seminar excursions and travel arrangements for students based upon their subject. I provided informative material and located places and people of interest in advance for the travel programme".
Oleasia also planned and accompanied students to Berlin and Strasburg and designed, produced and distributed flyers, posters and reading material for up-coming events. She also had general clerical duties in the office and dealt with telephone queries on a daily basis.
New friends and confidence for the future
On a personal level, the stay was also very rewarding. “Right from the first day of work I met a friend, with whom I am still in contact . There were also some young people and two other European volunteers working for the Auslandsgesellschaft, with whom I remain good friends. I travelled a lot, found a polish folk dance group where I became a member, and visited some concerts and exhibitions, as well as roller bladed every month on Kemnader Lake ”.
When asked whether she believed that participation in this programme had any influence for her future she responded: “It definitely has. Thanks to EVS, I have gained lots of new skills and improved my practical knowledge in other things. It gave me confidence in myself, which is essential for my future career. Thanks to Auslandsgesellschaft, I have even been offered a job at one of the Scottish Distilleries”.
EVS is not about partying, but about working hard for the benefit of other people
Olesia does not hesitate to recommend participating in this programme to other young people: ”It is a great opportunity for young people to spend a year abroad, to find out about different cultures and traditions, to learn a foreign language, to make new friends and, of course, to discover a new field of possibilities".
According to Olesia young people should avail of this opportunity, as they can only do it once. "If someone is interested in doing the EVS programme, I would advise them to start thinking early about what they would like to do and where they would like to go. These are very important decisions to make and people should approach them seriously".
According to Olesia a person participating in EVS must also be highly motivated and prepared. "The EVS is not about partying, but about working hard in a non-profit organisation for the benefit of other people. It does not mean that European volunteers only work, however work should be their priority. If they can do this, the rewards and experience gained are wonderful”, Olesia says.
Dominic Erfkamp, Euroguidance, Dortmund, German