Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Make the difference through EVS - JEKATERINA MASLOVA - 6 Months EVS in Pro Atlantico, Lisbon - Article in English

Jekaterina Maslova - EVS in Associação QE

My experience with EVS was set in the sunny capital of Portugal, where I spent 6 months volunteering in a beautiful, warm and welcoming centre for mentally disabled people.

I got the opportunity for this Project thanks to a good friend, who so kindly advised me to talk to Marco, to get some understanding of what EVS is and the possibilities it would give me. Since I was doing my last year of high school and struggling with choosing my next step, in what direction to choose the university degree, I decided to go somewhere far away to find myself by travelling, learning about a hidden minority in our community by helping them and building a close relationship with these people.

To be honest, I was very scared of doing this Project. And that for multiple reasons. I was moving out of the house I grew up in for the first time, living in a foreign country which language I did not speak, being in an International community and especially working with people who have mental disabilities, as I had never encountered them before in my life. But still I was excited to the maximum, I was ready for the experience.

Of course when I moved there, I was extremely happy. All that sun and warm weather! Coming from Estonia, where already in September it was cold and rainy, here, in Lisbon I could go to the beach. The City is amazing, a big old town part, a lot of houses covered in colored tiles, narrow streets which are floored with cobblestone, happy, smiling people. I fell in love with this culture and I have to say, I took some of the Portuguese mentality to myself as well, which I find makes me more happy and not sweating the small stuff, enjoying life much more fully.

The Project itself changed my perspectives a lot, not only in how I see people with mental disabilities, but in general, how I communicate with all people. I feel much more love inside of myself and others. I see the importance of showing affection and care towards the ones round us, because to someone just a simple embrace might make their day more meaningful. I got to the point that I see them just as normal as any other person in this world, they became my friends, who I miss and was happy to see every day when I went to the centre. They teached me a lot about being my authentic self, showing emotions and not caring about what others might think, as they had all of these sides perfectly represented in them.

I think I grew a lot with the help of this Project. I became much more independent and able to think my thoughts more clearly and understand my wishes. I got a better realization of what the world is like outside of my safe little home country. The biggest realization I made was the one I was looking for when choosing to do this Project, find out what I want to do next. And I did. Thanks to this I decided to enroll on a degree in psychology, which I have understood, I have always been very drawn to.

To anyone who is searching for themselves or their purpose, I can say with full assurance, that doing a Project like this is the best way to do it. It’s a very diverse experience, which will be filled with a wide range of situations and emotions and I think only by stepping into this discomfort, we can find ourselves and our purpose.

This Project was financed by European Commission's Erasmus + Programme

Friday, May 26, 2017

European Voluntary Service to Support the Valencian social Empowerment - KATRIN KRASS - 9 Months EVS in Go Europe Valencia - Article in English

EVS in Valencia, Spain

01.09.2016 - 31.05.2017

I’m Katrin and this is the summary of my European voluntary service in Valencia. First of all, I decided to do EVS because I got to the point of my life because I felt that I’m stuck. I had finished with my studies in university and didn’t find a professional job as soon as I wanted so I was working as a waitress for a year. During that year I realised that I need a change: a change of scenery, change of lifestyle, everything. So I started to look for volunteering opportunities and it was not easy for me at first but then luckily enough I found that Noored Ühiskonna heaks has a partnership with and organization in Valencia and of course I applied straight away because I knew that I want to come to Spain and the project type wasn’t the most important thing for me because my main goal was to try something different and learn new things.

Alright, enough about the introduction, let’s get to the business. I did my EVS in organization called GoEurope, which main goal is to help young people through different Erasmus+ programs. I was working with 2 other volunteers in the beginning but half way through the girl from Italy quit the project, so it was just me and the Romanian girl (Flavia). 

Our main tasks as volunteer were: organising English café for young Spaniards in order for them to practice English; help with project management and also a bit of project writing; promote the organization on social media and at different events; look for potential partnerships and promote Erasmus+. Through these activities I learned that it’s not easy to motivate young people to practice English and for an event to be successful it needs a very good promotion. I got to know the Erasmus+ world better and gained knew knowledge about project writing and management.

Our first English café

On-arrival training in Benicassim

During my volunteering process I also took part in the on-arrival training and mid-term training, which are a part of EVS program. The first training was more about introducing EVS and getting us ready for our upcoming life as a volunteer. The second training was more focused on reflection and analysing our project and it was more personal. The trainings were a good way to get to know other volunteers and spend a nice time out of my usual “reality”. At the mid-term evaluation I met Estonians after 6 months and I was so happy that I got to speak Estonian.

There were a  lot of participants on mid-term

I met other Estonians, yay!

One other very cool thing I got to do during my volunteering was helping to organize a youth exchange. The youth exchange was held by Valencia youth council but since GoEurope shares a working space with them and they needed help, I decided to get involved and help to organize it. I helped to create ideas for the workshops; also did energizers for the participants and in general I was like an assistant for the main organizer and helped her with whatever she needed. It was a great experience because now I got to see the youth exchange from the organizers point of view and I learned a lot of new tricks to use in non-formal education.

With the participants of youth exchange

Surely EVS is not only about working, it’s also about getting to know new culture, learn a new language, make new friends and travel. During my EVS I learned a lot of new things about Spain and got to experience a very traditional celebration in  Valencia (Las Fallas). I’m very happy that I met Flavia because we became good friends and I know we will stay in touch for a long time. I got to see many beautiful places in Spain and enjoy the warm weather and beach.

City of Arts and Science

Valencia seen from Torres de Serranos 

On Tabarca island  

To sum up I thought that EVS would help me figure out what I want to do with my life, well, that didn’t happen the experience is something I will never forget. I have grown in so many ways during these 9 months. I think everybody should do something like that in their lives because it makes your life so much richer.

You can read more about our project here:

This Project was financed by European Commission's Erasmus + Programme

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Name of the project: Peace Leaders+
Date: 3rd – 10th May 2017
Country/City: Lecce, Italy

What was the main topic of the event?

Tatevik Meliksetyan - The main idea of the Training course Peace Leaders+ was to help future group leaders develop their professional skills and become a good example for youngsters in their countries. Participants of TC had chance to discover new methods concerning working in non-formal educational system and more over using that knowledge for motivating young people to study. Another part of TC was dedicated to mindfulness.

What was the biggest learning moments on the event for you?

Tatevik Meliksetyan - On my opinion, the most interesting and important part of training course was the workshop dedicated to Leadership skills. It helped me to get to know about all types of leadership and to understand which type of leader I am. Trough role play and special cases we saw ourselves how it works this or that leadership style. This is very useful for people who are planning to work as a leader in small or big groups.

Do you have any plans to continue active in the field? If yes, what?

Tatevik Meliksetyan - Yes! I feel very motivated after this training course and I would like to continue developing my skills in this field. I would like to use all methods learnt during TC and see how do they actually work in real life.

Would you recommend it to your friends? I yes, why? If not, why not?

Tatevik Meliksetyan - I would recommend my friends to participate in this training, because it gives you opportunity to gain knowledge, develop yourself, meet new people from different countries, exchange ideas and share experience.

More comments or anything else you would like to share? You can add here in your own language, if you want!

Tatevik Meliksetyan - Suur tänu!

This Project was financed by European Commission's Erasmus + Programme

Training Conflict vs. Connection: A Practical Training for Young Peace-builders - INTERVIEW WITH KATRINA UUENI AND PIIA PAULA TARVIS

Name of the project: Conflict vs. Connection: A Practical Training for Young Peace-builders
Date: 10th – 17th April 2017
Country/City: Armenia, Yerevan

What was the main topic of the event?

Katrina Uueni - The topic of this event was to discuss different aspects of conflicts and how to transform them in a peaceful way, mainly through active listening, expressing feelings and finding compromises (non-violent communication techniques). This training gave you new skills and experiences in a non-formal education way, though extremely useful and helpful for future youth work. It taught me the most of how to work in groups, be tolerant, and how to express my own ideas, feelings out in the public.

Piia Paula Tarvis - The TC was about conflict theories, transformation and conflicts in Europe.

What was the biggest learning moments on the event for you?

Katrina Uueni - This event brought together 36 participants from 13 countries, so establishing new friendships and exchanging experiences was the most rewarding thing for me. It is inspiring to meet young like-minded people, who share the same values and beliefs like you and be able to have meaningful discussions, which can turn into new partnerships for organizations or study/job opportunities.
I also enjoyed the Human Library event, which was part of the training and organized by APY. It was so interesting and empowering to listen to other people’ s stories of their different struggles in life and how they overcome it. This made me feel more connected to others and knowing that I am not alone in this world who struggles in life- we all just need more compassion in life.

Piia Paula Tarvis - Definitely learning about conflicts in other countries as participants talked about their views on the issues in their home countries. Also the living library was eye opening – there was an Armenian girl who grew up in Estonia, so it was interesting to hear her story!

Do you have any plans to continue active in the field? If yes, what?

Katrina Uueni - As a matter of fact I do, yes. I definitely want to take part again on a training like this. As above-mentioned it is a great way to meet new people and make new friendships. Also the training will give you great team-building and group working skills through role plays and different games/exercises that a conventional education will not do.

Piia Paula Tarvis - Of course, as a law student I find peace to be a very important matter to achieve in everyday life and overall in the world!

Would you recommend it to your friends? I yes, why? If not, why not?

Katrina Uueni - I will most definitely recommend events like this to my friends. It is a great way to broaden one’ s mind and feel the diversity, but doing so getting more connected! You can experience so many different cultures, customs etc during the training, but in the end learn that we are all the same no matter where we are from, and form beautiful friendships.

Piia Paula Tarvis - Yes, the trainers were extremely friendly, nice and adequate in their field. The topic is extremely important and everybody should know more about it.

The group was formed by Katrina Uueni, Piia Paula Tarvis and Liina Selgmae

This Project was financed by European Commission's Erasmus + Programme