I Travel Therefore I Am
I know from my own experience that in the consciousness of many of my peers EVS volunteering is still something so remote as the Sahara, so maybe my story will be able to stimulate the imagination of those who have come across this issue for the first time.
From the time perspective I see how many new opportunities I was given through my participation in the former Youth Programme. However, it seems to me that all those years ago I was not fully aware of how good an idea for life was that kind of initiative. After the completion of the project which was only partially linked to “building”, I settled in Denmark, starting from a several-month long stay in a Danish boarding school. A bit later, thanks to my satisfactory knowledge of Danish, I took up a job in the construction industry, which I left after just under a year for studying at Copenhagen’s technical university. This was mainly possible owing to the Danish government’s scholarship which I got in 2007, among other things in recognition of the period of my EVS volunteer work.
For over two and a half years now I have been studying at a faculty similar to Polish building engineering loosely linked to architecture, and my studies, owing to my language skills, were often complemented by work for local construction companies cooperating with Polish subcontractors. When I arrived in Denmark in 2006 I was unable to utter a single word in Danish and EVS volunteering gave me enough time for studying and participating in a language course which enabled me today’s easy living in Copenhagen. Today I can see clearly that my language learning was a bull’s eye, but when I was leaving for EVS a day after my last final secondary school exam, I did not have the faintest idea what kind of concrete opportunities this event was able to create. I know it for a fact that without the 2006 EVS I would not have found enough courage to move to a completely different country. That is why I feel that in a way my life has been positively changed by that volunteering and its advantages. The courage that I have just mentioned helped me to open my eyes to the world surrounding me and that is why in 2009 I participated in a six-month student exchange at one of Edinburgh’s universities. This exchange contributed to a placement, which, despite being part of my Danish studies, will be served in Scotland and funded under Erasmus.
I found out about Erasmus and EVS Volunteering from colourful brochures published by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, but despite being roughly familiar with these programmes I would had never thought that I would take advantage of that kind of opportunity to this extent. I did not personally know anybody who had already done it, however, encouraged by some people wishing me well I decided to accept the programme offer.
If I could change anything in the choices I then made, I would not probably change anything, seeing how they nowadays enrich not only my studies, but also the work I do. The skills gained in the course of the European Volunteering Service were the first step to more experiences whose positive effects I will feel for years to come.
Michał Łuczun, volunteer