New beginnings: European Voluntary Service
This year, One World Institute has become a coordinator and host of it’s first ever European Voluntary Service volunteer team in a new youth work project, called “Make a change – Be a Best Buddy!”
European Voluntary Service (EVS) under Erasmus+ program is one that connects youth with volunteering projects across the world.
The European Voluntary Service (EVS) team flew to Oslo, Norway, and took a train to Lillehammer one week ago. It has passed meeting other volunteers, exploring the school and enjoying Norwegian nature. Welcome, Chiara (23) from Italy, George (27) from Romania and Nihat (20) from Turkey!
How did it start
The start was not without road bumps. In Chiara’s case, “My flight from Milano (Italy) had a delay. When I arrived to Oslo, I missed my train and came to Lillehammer late. For Nihat, the arrival was filled with excitement, curiosity and expectations regarding all the new things I would get to know. Will I like the town and my flatmates? Will I be good at what I am doing, and what are the other volunteers going to be like?”
Norway can surprise in many ways, especially if one comes from the other side of Europe. Nihat compares it with Turkey. “I used to live in Istanbul which is a highly populated and busy city. Here is more quiet and peace. The train ride to Lillehammer was one of the most stunning and spectacular routes I have ever seen. Since the first second, I am already in love with the nature in this country!”. George adds, “Norway is a tremendously clean country, so clean that I felt bad for stepping inside the train, thinking there’s probably some dirt left on my shoe.”
About the project
The European Voluntary Service (EVS) volunteers will live here for 6 months as youth workers for the project “Make a change – Be a Best Buddy!”. The project focuses on inclusion of disadvantaged and marginalized youth. A growing concern in Scandinavia and Europe as a whole”. It’s for a group of youngsters from difficult social backgrounds.
A European Voluntary Service (EVS) project does not require professional experience in the field, but it can be an asset. For instance, George has done youth work before. “I finished my master’s degree in psychology and actually made it out as a licensed psychotherapist. That means jack in Romania. I’m hoping that in the northern countries my skills will be better put to use”. The greatest strength of a volunteer is motivation.
What did we do in the first week?
During their first week, the European Voluntary Service (EVS) team has done a plethora of introduction activities. Chiara lists the meetings, “We have done a presentation about ourselves in the school and had meetings with the headmaster, with our Norwegian teacher, and also with our 2 mentors.” George sums up the rest: “I searched for treasures, boated, personalized my room, took a dive in the pool, saw a double rainbow, played on about every instrument I could find (and there are many), juggled on a hill, petted dogs, chased after sheep and more.”
The European Voluntary Service (EVS) volunteers also learned how to cook together and went on a camping trip. Nihat concludes: “Boating on the lake and camping over-night are the highlights of my first week.“ “For me, it was kinda hard, because I’m not used to hiking,” admits Chiara, “But I think that was a good experience to try.
” Challenges bring the volunteers together. Here are Nihat’s thoughts about team life so far: “I share a room with George and, to be honest, I had expected to have my own room in terms of privacy. Nevertheless, the three of us became friends really quickly and we are already planning to visit Oslo together.”