quinta-feira, janeiro 24, 2019

EVS experience, Social Bond (Ioana Enache)

The short version is: I love the work I’m participating in and I love doing a volunteer project in a foreign country. The long version is… a bit longer.

I am from Romania and I am taking part in an EVS in Lisbon, Portugal. It is a long term EVS, lasting for nine months (from October to July), with a very ambitious but equally important objective, that of promoting social inclusion. The name of the project is `Social Bond`. My sending organization is Asociația Dominou, my coordinating organization, Associação Rota Jovem, and the host one, Alem. The institutions I work at are APIA (Associação de Protecão à Infância) and Associação de Actividades Sociais do Bairro 2 de Maio. Both are in Ajuda, in the outskirts of Lisbon. They are both kindergartens, so my work involves working with children from one to six years old.

The pallet of activities is diverse. On Monday we have music classes, on Tuesday, yoga, on Wednesday, dance, on Thursday, sports education, and on Friday, storytelling through interactive methods. Meanwhile, I help the educators with daily tasks involving the children, such as helping the kids eat or putting them to bed. I also try to bring my own culture into the world of little one, explaining to them where Romania is situated on the map or making analogies between words the Portuguese and Romanian language have in common.

My voluntary work brings a lot of personal rewards and I can only hope I give back the happiness I receive every day. The kids are wonderful and there is much to learn from them. Not a single day passes without a small but important lesson to be learned. Another positive aspect for me is learning Portuguese thanks to reading children stories or learning children songs. This way it is easier to acquire the Portuguese vocabulary.

Besides the benefits involved in my work, taking part in an EVS plays a big role in my intercultural knowledge. Since I arrived here, I got to discover the fascinating culture of Portugal. From history to cuisine, I am fascinated by it. Given the fact that my EVS is a long term one, I take my time in understanding what makes Portugal unique – from saudade and fado to surf. Moreover, there are other cultures I discover through the volunteers I met. Everybody comes from different countries, but it is surprising to realize how similar we are despite our differences. One of my favorite parts consists of linguistic differences. We speak English most of the time, but with some of them, I get to practice my French and Spanish while also learning Portuguese at work. I am grateful for this opportunity, one that I don’t think would have existed without the EVS.

Going back to the work I am doing, I appreciate that my volunteering project allows me to work with a multicultural group of children while also feeling that I am becoming part of their community. I am happy to spend my time in the education field and to participate in a project in which people are aware that education is not an element of luxury, everyone should have access to it. The overall feeling is that we are all learning from each other. Doing volunteer work daily emphasizes the importance of being kind, enthusiastic and open minded.

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