Romanian volunteers abroad

Anca Livia Chira
Project: Bunkr - Variety of Languages and Cultures
Duration: 01.05.2011-01.05.2012
Třinec, Cehia

Ahoj!!!! I have been a member of the Bunkr family for 2 months now, but I can say that I started feeling at home after about one! The title of my project fits so well with my experience because not only that we were given the opportunity to meet the Check culture here but we also have the opportunity to get to know other volunteers from Brazil, Germany and France (colleagues in the same project). Although we are very different from each other, we manage to survive without any victims on either side! As I was saying, I started my project 2 months ago but I’m already thinking that I only have only 10 months left! I am a volunteer in an organization for young people between 13 and 20 years of age, mostly Roma ethnics. What we offer them is a place where they can feel safe, where they can find information and advice to help them in their everyday life and of course, games and funny activities, because first of all they are kids! My exact role in the organization is to take care of the activities and games, because I do not speak Czech (not yet!) and since my communication with them is more difficult the social workers are in charge with counseling. Besides offering the teenagers the possibility of coming to one of our clubs (Trinec, Bohumin or Jablunkov) street-work also involves our visit to their playgrounds, which means that one social worker and one volunteer go to their playgrounds 2 – 3 times a week. Although Czech has been my biggest challenge so far, I hope that I will master it well enough, because unfortunately, only a few young people speak English here and the language barrier is quite considerable! EVS is a real opportunity and I recommend that nobody miss it; it gives you the possibility to help while you get helped, to discover a multitude of things about yourself and about what exists around you, different places and also to seal new friendships! I have said this and I repeat myself: we, volunteers, are a different species and I already have a great deal of memories and knowledge I have gained in this experience!

Monica Hrinca
Project: Kinder und jungentpad. Einrichtung der Stadt Koln (Kids)
Duration: 03.10.2010-03.10.2011
Germany, Köln

It is difficult to describe my EVS experience in words. Although I have only been here for two months, so many things happened already. The project on which I am working is carried out at "Kinder und jungentpad.Einrichtung der Stadt Koln (Kids)" in Germany, more precisely children coming from problematic families are brought to live with these groups permanently or for a period of time, until their family problems are solved. My work is in a group where children from 3 to 14 years old are staying temporarily. It is quite difficult, but at the same time I receive a lot of nice things from the children which over compensate the difficulties. I am taking care mostly of the smaller children, we draw, model, do all sorts of things which are creative and help build their personality. Besides all these artistic activities, I have also some administrative duties: I take them to the park, I pick them up from school or we go shopping together.
I am sure that this experience will help me improve my artistic abilities, as well as learn a new language which will be useful when I get back home. My wish is to go back to my country, after this experience and continue working with children and share with them the beautiful things that I have learned here.

Victor Perdevara
Project: "Multicultural Language Cafe
Duration: 01.09.2010-30.05.2011
Poland, Wroclaw

The Multicultural Language Cafe Project is a project meant to serve a community, as the name shows. Informal education is one of the main ingredients of the project which we are also trying to promote in the schools of the city. This is made possible through the many weekly workshops we organize (human rights, presentation of the country we come from, teaching Romanian classes in a media center, teaching English in social families, activities in kindergarten and primary schools). Everything seems simple and easy at first, but the fact that the workshops address different age groups (from 5 and in some cases over 30 years old) complicates things a lot. There are different challenges that come with this diversity in age as for example the available teaching techniques, according to age. For example, the human rights workshops for secondary school level encounter the language barrier most of the times (many understand English, but they can only express simple phrases).
EVS is a practical experience where you really learn things. With each activity you can discover or improve abilities you need in everyday life. During my weekly schedule for the Multicultural Language Cafe Project, I was faced with looking for solutions and new ideas all the time, there were moments when I had to improvise and be spontaneous because that’s what the situation required.
In EVS, I’ve learned that team work means sharing experiences and knowledge. For the future, I would like to continue working as an educator for young people and work in community projects such as this one.

Simona Criste
Project: Bunkr - variety of languages and cultures
Duration: 16.08.2010-15.08.2011
Třinec, Cehia

Ahoj! This is how Czech say hello, as I have learned since I am here. My name is Simona Criste and I graduated the Faculty of European Studies at Babes Bolyai University in Cluj. Before starting my Master studies, I decided to take some time off to do something else, something different from school. I heard about EVS from a roommate and I decided to look for projects. I sent hundreds of e-mails and finally, I found the project from the Czech Republic. In my case, the selection process was more difficult since we were two volunteers who wanted to participate in the same project and many organizations do not accept more volunteers from the same country in one project. We were successful, though, and here we are writing this after almost 4 months. We are in Třinec (it is pronounced Trinet), at the border with Poland and Slovakia. Our organization is called Bunkr and it has clubs in 3 towns: Trinec, Bohumin and Jablunkov. Besides the club activities, where kids come after school if they have problems and want to talk about them or just to play certain games, the organization also does street work which means that twice a week an employee and a volunteer go out on the street and talk to those teenagers who, for one reason or another, refuse to come to our clubs.

Marius Cupa
Project: Bunkr - variety of languages and cultures
Duration: 16.08.2010-15.08.2011
Třinec, Cehia

We are 4 volunteers living together in a nice apartment and our organization is very reasonable about the reimbursement of expenses and the days off. So far we have had the opportunity to travel and see a lot of interesting things. The real challenge is the language and especially the fact that in such a small town (40.000 inhabitants) people do not speak English. It is quite difficult to organize activities without a translator or when the children and teenagers are not interested. Little by little though, we find methods to get into their world. We hope that the Christmas party we are organizing for them and the new personalized calendars with their pictures will turn out well. Step by step we are learning what one may or may not do in an organization and how to manage human resources. Our project is a big challenge because of the children’s backgrounds and also because of the communication barriers that exist between us. We hope that once we learn the language things will improve even more!

Delia Gavlitchi
Proijct: Palemono Vaiko Dienos Centras (Palemonas Day Care Centre)
Duration: 01.10.2010-30.06.2011
Kaunas, Lituania

Now it is cold but extremely beautiful here, we have also the snow which we didn’t have in Romania! I woke up and I had the same feeling I used to have as a child when, pulling the curtain off in the morning, I discovered that everything was white and fluffy.
Most of us, volunteers, are working with children but my kids are the best! They spend their time after school in a center which belongs to a monastery. Sister Irute has been taking care of them for years and she is doing a great job. The children have a circus group and, lately, two theatre groups which I am taking care of. There was a Karaoke contest (I was in the jury) and recently we had a Christmas concert. The language we use the most at the center is English – Italian – Spanish – Lithuanian: I speak English, Sister Irute talks to me in Italian and listens to me speaking English (I understand Italian, but I cannot speak it), the other volunteer, a Spanish boy, doesn’t speak much English so I have to squeeze out the last traces of the Spanish I learnt from soap operas and the children teach me Lithuanian every day.
Kaunas is too much an empty town for a university center but Vilnius on the other hand is a cosmopolitan capital, full of colors and life. I am the only Romanian in Kaunas. At the moment we are three Romanian volunteers in Latvia: a gentlemen who is in Elektrenai (a small communist town) and a young lady in Vilnius – but she will leave us this month. The language mostly used by the volunteers is a sort of English with inserted words from their mother languages (e.g. scented sticks – we did not know the English word for that, so it became incenzzo - in Italian).

Izabela Moldovanu
Project: European Youth Power in Carinthia – Youth Centre and Cultural Events
Duration: 01.09.2010-31.08.2011
Villach, Austria

I chose EVS because through this project I have the chance to know another world, different people and new experiences. I am staying in Villach for one year, it is a small town with 60 000 inhabitants, in the south of Austria. The project is implemented in the local youth center and my activity consists mainly of supporting the team from the youth center in organizing activities, interacting with the children or teenagers who come to the center, organizing workshops on various subjects, writing articles for the online magazine (http://www.jugendlebtstadt.at) and many others.Here I have a chance to learn German, which I couldn’t speak before I arrived. I relate to different people with similar or different ways of thinking compared to mine, I learn to adapt to a different set of values. Besides some aspects imposed by living in a new environment, I can say that EVS gives me a chance to know myself, to discover new things, not only about others but also about myself.
EVS is a unique challenge which I am happy to have taken!

Alex Ailiesiei
Project: Balkan Hot Spot
Duration: 01.09.2009 - 30.06.2010
Thessaloniki, Grecia

Hi! I'm Alex and I have done my EVS project in Greece with an organization called United Societies of Balkans. This organization owns several materials (books, photos, brochures, films, etc.) on all Balkan countries and my role there was to organize a multimedia database which includes films, documentaries, music, photos about culture, customs, social life and other aspects of the Balkan societies and nations. We were also in permanent contact with various youth organizations from the Balkans and Europe.
My project fulfilled all my expectations and I consider it a success. I was happy and satisfied with the activities and tasks I was assigned as well as with the flexibility of the people I worked with.
EVS offered me an opportunity of having an intercultural dialogue with the local community and with the members of the organization. I succeeded in learning more about the Greek culture and the Balkan cultures. I would recommend EVS to everybody because you can experience many things and realities and for sure you will not get bored!

Maria Gavaneci
Project: Bring european awarness to Ukraine
Duration: 01.07.2010-01.07.2011
Donetsk, Ucraina

As far to the East as possible! This was the motto that guided me in choosing my EVS project.
Without being the most eastern point for EVS, Donetsk is one of the most eastern points in Ukraine and its vicinity to Russia is felt in almost every detail. I've always envied the people around me who could speak Russian. The Russian and Ukrainian mentalities are also a secret that I wished to discover. As a historian I have some knowledge about the country and the society but I always felt that there was something more, something that attracted me long before taking the decision to do an EVS project. For this reason, the moment I received the e-mail about this project it took me 5 minutes to decide that I wanted to try it. Of course, the project itself was also a decisive element.
After five months of being a volunteer here I am very happy with my choice and every day I am trying to discover new faces of this experience. This project is an opportunity to experience what I have learned up to this point and to discover new skills and personal interests. It has been a challenge for me ever since the beginning, because I had no previous experience in working with young people, organizing a youth group or trying to be their leader. But here I have discovered that all this can be a well rewarded effort. Recently I discovered that we can organize larger social projects together and the result was the first "Living Library" in Donetsk.
In addition to all this, we have weekly meetings that materialize in different actions (movie screenings, role plays, games, debates, pub quiz) and this diversity is one of the words that could be used to describe my EVS experience.

Mihaela Ana Comşa
Project: Don Bosco Club-Mülheim (Munca cu copii si adolescenti)
Duration: 15.09.2008 - 13.09.2009
Köln, Germania

The first thing I remember about my arrival in Germany is the warm hug that I was greeted with at the airport by Ms Sabine Joo, the person with whom I was going to live my year as a volunteer. I knew that the Germans were relatively cold and distant, but this warm welcome was just the beginning of what I was going to learn about Germany in the next 12 months.
Now, at the end of my one year of volunteering, I look back with a smile and I feel happy that I had the opportunity to work with some great people who welcomed me with open arms in their group and supported all the crazy projects I have tried to develop at the club. I considered this new experience as a well deserved break after the long 16 years of intense study in Romania. That's why I tried to live my childhood again, a period full of fun and games, together with the children from Don Bosco Club. My work in Germany turned out to be a place to relax, but also a space where I felt more and more that I can bring daring and creative ideas for the physical and intellectual development of the children attending the club. This feeling of confidence made me start a dance project for all the girls there. I was going to teach them Arabic dance, hip-hop and fitness - cardio, as a game. During this long term project I used the experience and teaching skills that I gained during my years of study in Romania.
This year in Germany started for me as a complete alienation for many reasons. A physical alienation, because I was on my own so far away from home and my loved ones, and then a mental alienation, because I could not use my mother language and this reality was hard to accept at the beginning. My experience in Germany turned into a self-rediscovery later on. I learned to overpass my limits and understand better human nature. I lived five years in one and I am sure that I left totally changed from there. This year spent as a volunteer will always represent a very inspired decision to me.

Rares Rotar
Project: Keck
Duration: 28.04.2011 - 27.10.2011
Salzburg, Austria

My experience in Kinderfreunde Salzburg could be described as the most interesanting and surprising experience from all volunteering background. The main activity in wich i was involved was playing games and cooking with children. The parks in Salzburg were our playgrounds. We were starting in the afternoons at the office where we were selecting the toys and after that we were loading the bus with these toys. The children were very happy every time the bus was passing by because it was painted with lots of colours, it was full with toys and we (the KECK team) were playing games with them. I Think every child wishes to play and also the adults who were ready to have fun and to forget about their problems.
On the personal side I can tell that I had a lot of free time to visit, explore and create my own experience and image of Austria. Without any doubts the time that I've spent there as a EVS volunteer were great, it was a new world that opened up for me.