„Htio sam promijeniti svakodnevnu rutinu i okolinu. Doći u drugu državu, volontirati i na taj način promijeniti sebe“
BECOMING A VOLUNTEER AND WHAT COMES WITH IT (part 2)
My first month in Croatia finished with a Youth Exchange in Duga Resa from 23rd to 30th of June. For those that don’t know the concept of a Youth Exchange – it is a EU funded small project that can last from 5 days up to 3 weeks. Youth from ages 13 to 30 from various different countries come together for this period of time and engage in different non-formal learning activities that all are focused on one specific theme. At the end participants will get a Youthpass – a certificate that shows that you have passed this “course”, but no one does this for you – it is more of a self-evaluation. And this is what I really like – you are responsible for your own learning process.
In our case the theme was communication. So, we had educational games that needed a lot of team-work, acting and preforming. Because I was not a participant this time, I had my own assignments – taking pictures and posting them on Facebook, leading energizers, helping facilitators and help to facilitate.
Youth Exchange is an immense analyzing, exploring, studying, investigating, exploring, communicating experience. You have the feeling that the world is on your hand. Every person has a different background and different way of living. And to work together with so different people is what grows care, understanding, recognition and empathy. You can participate in as many Youth Exchanges as you wish, this is a really reasonable way to see the world, to meet new people and to be sure that you are safe and you get definitely something out of it.
I’ve been to two Youth Exchanges before and because I was a participant and I had my own national-team so I didn’t really go out of my comfort zone or talk or discuss things with people from other countries. It was not in my consideration since I am an introverted Estonian. So this Youth Exchange was really different for me and believe it when they say “good things happen outside your comfort zone”. And this was really important to me that I got such a great feedback from participants, I felt appreciated and valued, unique and just so good to be in my own skin.
The second month started with exploring cultures. There was a folk-music festival in Ozalj, I went to Zagreb, we were discovering around Ozalj and I finally took a swim in Kupa river.
In the middle of July, one Saturday, we had a workshop for kids next to the river. At first we taught to do some origami – paper seals and swans. That was the tricky and not so popular part, but then we also did face and body paining. The kids could ask us anything they wanted and we tried to make it happen. I don’t think that my painting-skills are the best, so I wasn’t that confident. But the kids were really happy and running around with their “tattoos”, showing them to everyone and that was such an energy and confidence boost.
We also had a meeting in Duga Resa library with the Croatian team from the youth exchange and some people who were interested. We discussed the Youth Exchange and the outcomes. Me and Olga also did a presentation about our time here so far as volunteers and also considered making some workshops in the library for the future.
In Oroslavje I participated in a conference between several organizations that had volunteers. I did a presentation about Erasmus+, EVS (European Voluntary Service) and my own experience. I hope someone got inspiration to get into EVS as well. After that there was a discussion between organizations where they exchanged information and experience regarding volunteering.
Recently I had a talk with my supervisor where we discussed everything that has happened so far and how I think and feel about it. I had the chance to say anything that I had on my chest and if there are any problems, they are listened and taken care of. I can say that I’m on the same page with my colleagues and it’s great to communicate with them. I feel that I can be honest and say what’s on my mind because people here support and understand me.
I am satisfied with my experience so far. I really feel that I’ve changed and my view on the world has broadened. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and friends. I’m not stuck on the same spot anymore, I’m traveling and constantly moving forward. We’ll see where the road leads me.