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Global Volunteer Blogs

EVS: the utility of being useful

Lorenzo Автор: Lorenzo  
Теги: Без тегов 

Like everything extremely exciting in life, my activity as a volunteer in Ukraine is unfortunately coming to an end, so that it is time to take stock of the work done so far. Contrary to what you may think, I am not going to list all the activities, events, achievements, failures or surprises in which I have been involved so far. My stay in Ukraine was amazingly enjoyable and successful yet, but knowing the reasons for that wouldn’t be of much interest for anybody. In this respect, I would rather like to dispel some myths about EVS and its meaning, so that who is coming after me could be able to draw maximum benefits from its activity as a volunteer abroad. In this way I will have also the opportunity to explain exactly what I personally gained in terms of competences from such an experience.

Let’s begin then. According to one of the most common misconception about EVS, many people think that it is not really useful for their further career. In this case, I have to point out that, first of all, it depends on the career that a person would like to have behind him, and, second, that EVS includes many different projects regarding a great variety of areas of expertise. A young volunteer have in practice the opportunity to choose the project which most fits his wishes and ambitions, so that it is possible to work in the field of Human Rights, ecology, education, intercultural learning, art, new media, European values and many other issues. Now let’s say that you have a degree on environmental engineering, so that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to spend some time volunteering for an organization promoting a sustainable development, which should be environmentally friendly or ecologically correct. Or maybe let’s suppose that you got a degree on pedagogy, so that it would be a useful experience to work in the field of non formal education. In both cases you got the possibility to have a concrete and formative experience in the field of your studies, not to say that the list of such examples can be virtually endless. Another interesting point in this respect is that every volunteer has the opportunity to perform his EVS in many different countries, both inside and out of Europe, getting the occasion to have his further career in such a country. In conclusion, it is your responsibility to find the project and country which most fits your aspirations in life.

Many people still think that EVS is a waste of time and volunteers do not actually perform any interesting or formative job. As of the quantity of work during a week you should take into account that as a volunteer you are expected to work six hours per day, five days a week. Moreover, 50% of your working time should be spent performing tasks given by your hosting organization and the other 50% should be spent for a personal project regarding the area of expertise of your EVS. This is a great occasion to become more creative, mature and efficient, doing something useful for yourself, for your further career and, of course, for the people living in the country that hosts you. In this respect I can tell something about my personal experience. I graduated in Russian philology, so that the greatest part of my personal project has consisted on courses of Italian language for local people led in Russian. In this way I could improve my language and communication skills, gaining at the same time a certified experience as a teacher in public facilities, like libraries, youth centers, universities and schools.

Eventually, a lot of people are convinced that as long as you are a volunteer, you don’t get any money, food, accommodation or economical help from the organization hosting you. On the contrary, you should know that as a volunteer you have right to have paid the 90% of the cost of the two ways travel from and to your country, the flat in which you are going to live, a food and transport allowance and, eventually, a pocket money, which, ironically, in Ukraine sometimes can be higher of the salary of a young man who has just been employed.

To conclude our list of misconceptions about EVS with some advice, as a volunteer who is going to finish his service in Ukraine I deeply feel to suggest to every young man who is motivated enough, to pluck up the courage to perform such an ambitious experience. Everyone must be convinced that what he is going to gain in terms of experience though EVS, is much more important of any doubts or fears. Personally, I strongly believe that I have learnt much more spending one year in Ukraine far from my hometown, than in five years at university.

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