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Why choose the European Voluntary Service?

We hear from some young people's experiences of EVS in Europe

Written by Tricia Purcell | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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If you don't know much about the European Voluntary Service, you can have a read of our article here. If you want to find out more about the type of work and places young Irish people have been to, just read their experiences below. 

Cian, Co. Wicklow

  • What EVS project did you do? PVN Albania
  • Where was your EVS? Tirana, Albania
  • How did you find out about it? Internet, online research
  • Why did you do it? Gap year, working before University

Albania was a completely new country for me. From talking to the local coordinator in Albania (Ola) over Skype, I started to become really interested in the project.

I looked for all possible EVS opportunities that fit my time available. I chose the project after many discussions with VSI who explained all about it. I learned to be much more open minded. By teaching English to children, my communication skills improved.

I had a great time during my EVS. It was great to meet so many new people and make friends. Both the sending and receiving organisations were extremely helpful. I had a lot of support available to me during the two months. The money allocated to EVS volunteers in Albania is sufficient. I had no problems in terms on funding during my two moth EVS project.

Cordelia, Co. Donegal

  • What EVS project did you do? Education Project with Balkan Sunflowers Kosova
  • Where was your EVS? Pristina, Kosovo

How did you choose your project?

A friend sent me the advertisement as he knew I was interested in the Balkans after visiting Bosnia the year before. The project sounded really interesting and it allowed me to escape from moving back home. At the time, I thought I would complete the ten months and move on to something else, but before I finished the project the NGO offered me the position of coordinator of the Learning Center Network. I stayed with that NGO for another year and a half and I am still living in

Before going back to university to study International Development I had been a teacher. This project allowed me to work in development in an educational project for minority children. So, I felt it was a good fit for my skills. The money can be tight so a little bit of saving can be useful but not essential. Kosovo is bang in the middle of Europe, so it was easy to visit the places around.

I think EVS is a great experience and while you can get a lot out of it, it is better if you can also fit your skills to the needs of the project. I found if you showed initiative, you were given the freedom and encouragement to try new things. 

Paul, Co. Offaly

  • Where was it? Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina

My project focuses on providing English Language classes to students. I felt I could use my TEFL qualification to help others. I had been working in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry for a few years and I was looking for a way to use my skills to help people. So far, I have enjoyed every moment of my EVS and I am only disappointed it will end so soon. With the organisation, Wings of Hope working on inclusion of children, youth and other vulnerable groups through promotion and protection of human rights and mental health.

I heard about the EVS/Erasmus+ programme and I was very excited about the kind of activities it offered. I had the opportunity to create a project working with a fantastic organisation in Sarajevo and co-ordinated by the very friendly and efficient team at VSI in Dublin. I chose the project because the organisation worked with people directly affected by the war, specifically children. Among other things, they help people return to school, aid children who have learning difficulties, and provide support to children, parents and school staff in cases of bullying, domestic abuse and behavioural problems.

Since my project started, I have worked with students of all ages and helped them learn English for school, for work, to prepare for exams, or just as a hobby. I have also worked with staff in the organisation, improving their level of English. Before I finish my project in October, I am hoping to organise seminars with local teachers to share ideas on how to engage students more in the classroom.

Connor, Co Wexford

  • Where? Litija, Slovenia
  • What EVS project did you do? “Open your eyes and ears”, working with a youth centre (Mladinski Center) and in a local primary school

I found out about EVS through searching online for volunteering opportunities. I was looking for something exciting to do since I had finished my education and I came across this EVS project. Before coming on EVS I had just finished my Master’s degree graduating from UCC. I was interested in the idea of teaching and working as English language support teacher gave me a perfect opportunity to experience teaching in a formal setting.

Also, Slovenia interested me as a country I honestly didn’t know a lot about it before I went there and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

In Slovenia, I had the role of language assistant in the local elementary school, and as a community engagement officer in the local youth centre. I believe that my volunteer experience has given me the competency to engage and be proactive, to develop strong interpersonal relationships in local community, and to be creative an innovative in event planning. There is so much more it has given me in terms of skills it is kind of hard to put into words.

Why would you recommend it to other young people?

My time there was honestly life changing. I highly recommend EVS I think it is a fantastic opportunity and it gives us such a wonderfully immersive experience of another culture. Not just the culture of the country you are based but all around that country. I feel like I have friends I can visit from all over Europe now that were fellow EVS that I met during my time in Slovenia. Simply regarding volunteering, if you have the chance to do it, just do it.

Interested in finding out more?

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Published March 23rd, 2017
Tags volunteer volunteering travel europe
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