An unforgettable adventure
I was going to volunteer in Croatia with the idea that I would leave my country for half a year to experience an unforgettable adventure. Here it turned out that it wouldn’t be just discovering new place but a great chance to develop myself and improve social skills.
If you are a young person (aged 18 to 30) and you want to make real changes in the new environment and also in your life, European Voluntary Service gives you the opportunity. The main idea of volunteering is that you are going to a foreign country (in or outside the EU), making full-time activities in social life and, at the same time, you are developing yourself, both professionally and personally. You can choose from the wide range of areas, as culture, youth, sports, social care, cultural heritage, arts, civil protection, environment issues, development co-operation, etc. Besides, you can decide how much time you want to spend in the host organization: from 2 till 12 months.
My choice fell on the Alfa Albona - youth association from the small medieval town of Labin, Croatia. For four months I am working in the Youth Information Center of Istria Region where my main task is researching for activities for young people, like trainings, seminar, exchanges, volunteering. Youngsters who are sympathizers of the association can see on Facebook the actualizations every day. For the reason the local youth in Labin has limited possibilities to grow, we are trying to encourage them to do big variety of initiatives and to participate in projects regarding to their interest and needs.
Me and another volunteer, are also implementing European projects concerning to our experience up to now. The main aim of these programs is to enable young people to take part in stimulating learning process, teaching them solidarity, tolerance and European awareness. During these meetings with local youth, we are trying to familiarize them with the opportunities that the European Union is giving to them, simultaneously, we want to encourage them to take part in this enriching experience.
In July, I had the chance to share the knowledge and skills that I got during my voluntary service in my homeland. Together with the president of the organization and local authorities we participated in one international symposium week about economic and potential tourism development in Rybnik, Poland. Parallel to those subjects the young group (from Croatia, Slovenia and Poland) of participants was attending in one workshop leaded by our association. It was the first time within my EVS in Croatia, that I was presenting the EU opportunities in English in front of Polish youth. Up to now I was working with Croatians and after four months volunteering abroad I came back home, for a while, to share my knowledge and abilities with my compatriots.
EVS is an experience that you can mostly plan for yourself: you can choose the country, the type and the duration of the project. You can also be sure that you will gather a lot of new skills, like public speech, collaborate in a group, communication abilities or independent work. However, at the same time, being a volunteer in a foreign country, you can expect a range of surprises which will help you to develop yourself in different ways and return home with new ideas and perspectives about your working area.
Written by: Dagmara Jabłońska, EVS volunteer, Alfa Albona