Maria Inês Fraga, 18, Portugal, October 2016 – September 2017, Roma community centre in Jelšava, Slovakia
I decided to be a volunteer because I wanted to live ‘a foreign life’, experience something different and unique before I went to university. I wanted real, independent life experience. And when I found the opportunity to be an EVS volunteer, I thought it was perfect: I would get the chance to do something for myself but, at the same time, for somebody else, which is much more gratifying.
As redundant as it sounds, I learnt how to truly be a volunteer; I learnt what it means. I understand, now, the importance of team work and above all, initiative and patience. I got to know so much about Roma culture, life and traditions. I came to see their world with new eyes. I discovered myself, the good things and the bad things, thus gaining the tools to be a better person for myself and for others. I had the chance to me immersed in many different languages and cultures, and compare them. I have obtained the realistic experience of independent life and semi-professional world, with all its better moments and harder moments.
Recommendations for future volunteers: I think everyone will tell you this: if given the chance, learn the mother tongue of your EVS country, it will save your day. You should have an open mind, and be ready for everything. This experience is meant to be pleasant, but not every second of it will be Heaven on Earth; remember that. Know that by being an EVS volunteer you will be facing an independent life, but you will never be alone. You will have people who are there to help you whenever they can and whichever way they can. Do not forget to ask for help if you need. Be open to discover and change yourself; don’t be afraid of the unknown. Learn from yourself, but mainly, learn from others. Travel; make the most of the opportunity. And above everything else, enjoy yourself and ensure all the people you come in contact with enjoy your presence. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and when it is over, you will miss it; so make sure you have the little or no regrets.
Becoming a volunteer will change your life, it will change you into a better person, and it will give you life experiences of all kinds, colours and shapes. It will give you the chance to grow and help others grow. You will have the opportunity to give yourself to those you will work with and learn so much from them.
TAKE A LOOK AT THE REPORT FROM OUR ONGOING PROJECT CROSSROADS: starting at minute 09´00
Vanessa Cornevin, 26, France, September 2016 – August 2017, Roma community centre in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia
Volunteering has always been a way of life to me, and because of my personal history I had it in my mind to go to Slovakia. I was very happy to find the project in Mikulas because it was very diverse and it stood out from other propositions.
First of all I learnt slovak and got acquainted to a new culture and different ways of doing things. I grew more and more comfortable working with the children and took advantage of the free time to work on personal projects.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Learning the language will improve your experience. Be open minded and patient. Enjoy it!
Roxana Gavrilut, 19, Romania, September 2016 – August 2017, Roma community centre in Jelšava, Slovakia
I was part-time volunteering during high school in a youth association. That was just the beginning of a great love born from the desire of helping. It is not about any financial help or building new houses for people in need, but it is about discovering yourself, about learning and experiencing what the world has to offer. It is about the people who make you happy. Furthermore, I like challenges so an EVS (with all its secrets and benefits) was the right thing to do.
“What did you learn during your EVS?”
– Ohhh, I love this question. Because it is easy-difficult to answer. I have learned so many things about myself, about Slovak and Roma culture, about people and their way of thinking.
Recommendations for future volunteers:
Do not make any plans, as I always say, Life is unpredictable and you never know. Just live in the moment, enjoy every second and do your best for our children. They are sensitive beautiful creatures which deserve everything. Travel around Slovakia. Its nature is simply breathtaking so do not miss the chance. Hitchhike, everywhere, any time, alone or with someone else, in Slovakia and its surroundings. I highly recommend this experience, it is marvelous. You have the opportunity to meet lots of people with whom you can practice Slovak (and have great conversations). That is how I learned most of my Slovak.
Discovering in a beautiful way the world we live in, learning through experience, grow up. Take the lion by its tongue. Volunteering is a lifestyle, it is not a faze anymore.
Davide Madeddu, 30, Italy, September 2016 – August 2017, Roma community centre in Jelšava, Slovakia
I’ve learnt how to deal with critical situations, how to face everyday problems (both in co-living and co-working field), how to team up with my mates, how to get involved in a project, how to lead various activities, how to feel accepted and integrated into another community with a different culture and traditions.
Recommendations for future volunteers: EVS is a wonderful life experience which allows anyone to better discover oneself and develop a good resilience in order to react positively to those difficulties that inevitably can happen during one year abroad. Moreover the EVS permits to expand everyone’s mentality in a wider openness toward the others and it teaches many life-hacks and skills which might be useful in everyday life.
Volunteering, by its own definition, implies a strong will, keen on helping for humanitarian reasons, without any claim for money or self-praise. It’s a humble way for doing the right thing and making our best for the others.
Vico Kutz, 18, Germany, September 2016 – August 2017, Roma community centre in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia
I decided to be a volunteer, because I always wanted to live in another country and see different cultures. In addition I wanted to have some practical experience in contrast to the theoretical one in school. By volunteering I could also do something social and help people who are in a bad situation.
Basically I learned how to live alone in a different country and being responsible for myself since it was the first time living alone. Besides that, I could learn a lot about the Roma but also about the East-European culture. Being together with people who were older than me and had every kind of job, I could collect a lot of information which can be useful in my future life.
Recommendations for future volunteers:
– take the initiative and try out something new
– speak with a lot of people, because you will never have the chance again to learn so much about different cultures
– take a break of your everyday life and discover new things
– enjoy as much as you can
By volunteering you can take a break of your everyday life and have the opportunity for discovering yourself. And instead of losing a year doing nothing you are helping people which are in a bad situation.
Marcos Rodriguez, 23, Spain, September 2016 – August 2017, Roma community centre in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia
I decided to join this project because I was feeling stuck and I wanted to do something more with my life. I thought this was the best option to do something special for a year and open my mind while doing something good for the others.
I learned a lot about new cultures and I improved my English and French, as well as my teamwork skills. I also had the chance to learn the Slovak language and discover a new country I would had never visit otherwise.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Learn the language as soon as possible, even before they arrive to Slovakia. Also, keep an open mind all the time, be proactive and make sure they have their hearts full of patience, love and empathy before they go to work with children.
It’s a really intense and unique experience that gives you the chance to discover so many things you will never discover other way. It’s a great chance to do something for the world, help people, grow up and meet some good friends worldwide.
Before you take this step, be sure you really want to do it, because it’s not going to be a Paradise. It’s a great experience and although it’s totally worth it, there will be tough moments, as well.
Chloé Duffner, 21, France, September 2016 – July 2017, Roma community centre in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia
I decided to be a volunteer because I wanted to spend time abroad to get out of my daily routine in France. I was also a bit tired of studying, I wanted to do something concrete and useful. The EVS was the best opportunity. First I learnt about the Slovak but also the Roma cultures and languages. I also feel more confident to speak in English. I discovered a new job (working with children) and I learnt to adapt myself to a new environment and to people of different nationalities and backgrounds.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Learn the Slovak language, if will be easier for your daily life. Take a loooot of warm clothes for the winter. Use that opportunity to experiment things that you never did before and enjoy as much as you can!
Become a volunteer if you want to grow up, to share, to learn and to discover a lot of amazing things!
Her extraordinary blog about EVS:
Simon Cogne, 25, France, October 2015 – October 2016, Roma community centre in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia
I wanted to leave my country and spend one year abroad as quick as
possible, it was not about to discover one country in particular or being involved in a specific project. It was more a need to leave my country and experienced travelling experience for the first time of my life.
First, I learned to communicate in English which was my biggest fear (not being able to communicate). So it’s my first personal accomplishment so far and I can say I’m proud of that. I learned as well to be patient with children (I was working with Roma kids) and people more generally, to be more open minded with everybody, and I learned to catch all opportunities I had during my EVS to travel, experiment, try.
Recommendations for future volunteers: I would recommend for future volunteers not to take it too seriously. Also don’t get offended easily. It’s volunteering and if you have opportunities to travel, meet people, catch them. It was one of the greatest experience of my life. But choose carefully your project, they can fit to people or not. YMCA na Slovensku is a good association but all associations are not ok. The program is good (at least in Slovakia as far as I saw), the on-arrival training, mid-term training are great opportunities to meet other people. They are caring about volunteers.
Lisa Kaum, 19, Austria, September 2015 – August 2016, Roma community centre in Jelšava, Slovakia
Before I decided for coming to Slovakia, my plan was to find an option for doing something for the society, while maybe receiving something myself. In fact, I gave a lot, but received a thousand times that much!
The list of skills and knowledge I gained within the last twelve months is endless, but the main topics are for sure intercultural and personal development. Also, I learned a lot about how prejudices are formed– and how they can be prevented!
To share is the most important! EVS means sharing your life, your culture and your time with others.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Be aware, that you will not be the same anymore after this year. You will have seen, experienced and learned a lot more than some others do within their entire life! Try to enjoy every moment after you leave home – it will be an amazing and unique time! After all, be open for whatever will come: The less you expect, the more you can appreciate it!
When you want to become a stronger, more independent and more confident version of yourself, there’s nothing better to do than an EVS! Even though you may be overwhelmed by your feelings once in a while, this is the moment when you will learn the most!
Sabrina Chantreau, 27, France, September 2015 – August 2016, Roma community centre in Jelšava, Slovakia
During this year, I learnt a lot about the Slovak and Roma culture. The diversity of activities in the center allowed me to learn various skills and abilities. Only living in Jelsava is an exceptional exciting experience!
It was simply the best experience I’ve ever had. You learn a lot, Slovak people are very welcoming! The work was amazing even if sometimes it was really challenging!
Recommendations for future volunteers: Surely you need to be open-minded, try not to be too influenced by your background, and to accept that things are not perfect. You will build your own EVS, so try to take initiatives to reach your own goals!
Zane Rituma, 22, Latvia, September 2015 – August 2016, Roma community centre in Jelšava, Slovakia
EVS is an unforgettable experience, and especially in a town like Jelšava there is a lot to learn about life, people and oneself. I have learned a new language – Slovak, I have experience in how to work with children, how to work with people from socially and economically deprived backgrounds, as well as what my strengths and weaknesses are; now I also have a clearer idea of what I want to do with my future.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Be open-minded and stay positive when things go wrong, because they will. Also it is important to work on the relationships with your fellow volunteers, because the feeling of being a part of a community will help you get through the harder times. All in all – it is an exciting, challenging and life-changing experience.
Jimmy Chaves, 26, France, April 2015 – December 2015, Roma community centre Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
I decided to be a volunteer in Slovakia firstly because my girlfriend (today fiancée) was Slovak. So I had the opportunity to go to Liptovsky Mikulas and I went there without knowing really how it will be. I started this new adventure in this awesome country full of awesome people and so far….. it is one of the best experience I had in my life.
Working with Roma people could be hard sometimes but I was surrounded by an awesome team (workers and volunteers) so it made the work easy. And today I would love to go there again and find something I could do to help the people I was working with during this time.
Recommendations for future volunteers: be open minded, explore the country, try to meet new people, be flexible, get out of your comfort zone and you will enjoy it as much as possible
Joaquín Emilio Díaz González-Dans, 26, Spain
September 2014 – August 2015
Roma community centre Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
Joaquin’s blog – all you need to know about volunteering, Slovakia and Liptov 🙂
If you like to know even more, contact Joaquin directly: joaquin.dgd (@) gmail . com
Miha Pack, 22, Austria
September 2013 – August 2014
Roma community centre Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
I chose to become a volunteer because I really like helping people and at that time I didn´t know what to do
During my EVS I im in my life.proved my language skills and social competences, my patience with children and co-workers and it gave me some ideas for my future plans. It´s a really great (learning) experience, you get to know another country and culture, you meet new people and above all you get to know yourself better. It was a great year which went by really fast, I really enjoyed it. Made some new friends, not just from Slovakia. Pity it lasted “just” 12 months 🙂
Recommendations for future volunteers: Stay open minded, adapt to the new environment. Try to think yourself into the position of the people you are working with or trying to help, and then think of the “right” thing to do.
I wanted to learn something about a country I don’t know and I wanted to work with children. I didn’t want to study immediately after school, but to see something from a different country and to work.
I learned a lot about a different culture, about building relationships, about the value of life, a new language and mostly about my own identity. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet new people, to widen your horizon, to build an international network and to know more about yourself. I’ll never forget this year that made me to the person I am. It was an amazing opportunity for me to see a really different Europe, I got so many new friends and I’m sure Slovakia will always have a space in my heart.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Learn the language and to speak as much as possible, because this way you’ll build great relationships. Travel and visit other volunteers in their projects and you will build an amazing international network.
Kristin Mayrhofer, 18, Germany
September 2012 – August 2013
Roma community centre Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
My first ideas of volunteering were (as probably each volunteer has):
- staying one year abroad far away of the normal surrounding,
- doing some work I really like, learning a new language, travel around, meeting new people from different countries,
- earning a lot of experiences, to become more independent, more open-minded, to grow with each day and to expand my own horizon while volunteering.
I learned so many incredible things I can not summarize them in just a few sentences. From the first day I arrived I learned new things. Each day there was something new to learn and not all the time I could realize what life there did to me. After all that time I would say I learned for life. I learned: to be on my own, living abroad being the ‘stranger’, solve everyday problems, accept new challenges, live intercultural…
It’s the best you can to after school, before studying. Everyone should have the opportunity to gain all this valuable experiences! After my EVS I can say that it has changed me, my views. It has influenced my future life how nothing else could do.
EVS will offer you:
- a work which you hopefully really like
- learning a new language; improving your english
- international friends
- support while your whole service
- a place to live, pocket money, local transport..
Recommendations for future volunteers: One important thing I learned for my future life was: Not everything what you expect is coming true. So be flexible, try something new, accept challenges and do not give up until you’ve really tried. Scale down your expectations than it will be even better and you can not be disappointed.
It doesn’t matter where you go! Everywhere you will have the possibility to experience the best year in your life ;)! Like me: I never wanted to go to Slovakia but now I love it.
Why did you decide to be a volunteer?
To come out from home 🙂
What did you learn during your EVS? Slovak language, cooking jam and a lot of other things
Why would you recommend volunteering?
Good experiences, I would do it once again.
Recommendations for future volunteers: Try to have no prejudices
Watch Ronny in Slovakia on his channel: Ronny in Slovakia Episodes