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Tahira had just finished high school and was trying to find out what she wanted to do with her life. She was thinking about moving to a place where she would have a better future compared to her home country, Italy. Having explored The Netherlands for a period of three months, she enthusiastically decided to apply for an EVS project, which would last about 8 months.
Tahira: "I will take part in the EVS programme till August 2014. More importantly, I have also come to the conclusion that I want to stay here in The Netherlands. I have enrolled myself at the University of Wageningen and have been accepted. So my EVS experience has brought me that much already. I am volunteering in a special, experimental EVS project. It is a project where my Dutch host organisation’s aim is to bring foreigners closer to the Dutch community. Even though this is a wonderful idea, I have come to the conclusion that it is not as easy as it sounds. I feel that Dutch people in this community are very reserved, so it has been a challenge to come in contact with the local Dutch community. I have, therefore, decided to focus more on my personal development skills.
Working with animals and cooking Italian
I really wanted to work with animals because my future study is related to that. I am going to study ‘Dier- en Veehouderij’. Yes, I can speak a little bit of Dutch. I am working at a horse riding school for several days a week in a city called Ommen. One of the main objectives of the riding school is focused on rescuing old horses from the butcher. Instead, the riding school adopts these horses. For my host organisation where I conduct office work and I have also decided to give the experimental project another chance. So now I am giving workshops in Italian cooking to Dutch children. I think it’s a good way to let the children stay in their Dutch community and, at the same time, let them learn from my own culture: the norms and values, and learning to appreciate and enjoy Italian habits. All in all, I am very happy with what I am doing right now!
I simply came to love The Netherlands and the Dutch people right from the beginning. Many people say that Dutch people are rather cold and reserved, but I have never shared this opinion. Even though the community of the project is very reserved, I have never thought of generalising the entire group. If people in one village are reserved, this does not mean that all the people in The Netherlands are like that. That’s one thing I have learned during my experience here. Perhaps I have also realised this because of my passion for my work and for this country. I learned a lot about the Dutch culture and have also noticed differences with Italians. In Italy the people are very precise when it comes down to upholding old traditions. In The Netherlands there is more freedom and so on. It changed my life. I was planning to stay in Italy and do something totally different. Now that I am here in the Netherlands, I have decided to stay.
One step closer to the future
Up until now, I have learned many new things. I have developed several skills such as: personal skills, skills which I have learned by working with animals, but also project skills. I have also learned how to manage my low income and how to deal with priorities. I came to understand that I wanted to use these skills for my future studies and employment. For example, I had never heard of the way Dutch people work with animals. In The Netherlands I have seen much more unique specialisations, especially in the animal sector, which I had never heard about in Italy before. I realised that The Netherlands is the right place for me. This EVS experience is an experience of a lifetime! I believe that everyone should do some kind of EVS experience to discover new things and experiences which they would never discover in their home country. An EVS experience will also give someone the opportunity to become more independent and to discover or chase their passion in life."