Here I am. Three months in to an eleven month contract with EVS, and it is very apparent to me that I have told you all about what is going on; but not how this all came to be. How I managed to finagle a position at an NGO in Bosnia with as little as a couple of months notice, the credit rating of 18th century chimney sweep, and the idiotic bravery to try something new.
First off; I was bored and unfulfilled as a bartender in Manchester, England. Surrounded by loving friends, heartwarming locals, warmth in the air, and an endless supply of good times. Even through all that, loneliness and the drive to better oneself hits at any moment and can last a tremendous amount of time. Sometimes, loneliness does not subside and drive can dwindle… though what am I if not defiant of myself and my feelings; (answer) someone else.
So time to make a change. Leaping at whatever seemed farthest away…
The European Voluntary Service (EVS) is a project started by the European Commission which enables young adults (between the ages of 17 and 30) a chance to travel to countries around the world, and work with an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation)*. The programme is not strictly set on just Europe, as you can apply to neighbouring countries NGO’s as well**.
In 2017, EVS & Erasmus+ (a programmed married to the EVS) are celebrating their 30th year running the campaign. Here is hoping for another 30.
A volunteer can work between the minimum 2 weeks – or the maximum of 12 months – at their assigned NGO. Lengths of duration differ within different organisations. Finances like travel to and from your home country to hosting country are paid. An insurance provider is… provided for you. An allowance is given to you bi-monthly (and it is more than enough if you are smart about it).
All of this is rather straight forward. You can apply online at the European Youth Portal *** or find out about a sending NGO in your home country that are willing to help you out with all this. Like I did.
The whole process is a simple one. As well as heavily informative bloggers telling you about it (wink), your sending organisation guides you throughout your duration. Keeps you safe and sound. Now for what you volunteer for; informal teaching through sport and the arts. I applied as a music coordinator and I now either lead, support, or attend classes and workshops on a multitude of topics. Turkish language, art history and portfolio building, special education awareness, anti-fascism seminars, fitness courses, kickboxing, English lessons, Spanish lessons, improvisational music, a slam poetry/yoga amalgam I’m helping set up (Slam Poga wink). So many things so much time.
I cannot recommend this experience enough. Met some truly inspiring people, great friends, awful dancers, mischievous gigglers, wayward drawn troubadours, and, last but not least, myself. Corny; yes. True; also yes.
Slowly, I am figuring out what I want to do with myself and that is something I never really thought I would find out.
(on a side note, I must say; a large reason why I got involved in this is that it had the word European on it. Though my country voted against the EU, I still see myself as a European.)
So if you fancy a change of scenery, friends, career, perspective, and the chance to do some good as you go along, why not give it a go. Links are provided below for further reading and for you to have a bloody good ponder over.
Have a good Monday evening, world. You’re loved – even though it doesn’t seem like it at the moment – you are.
* https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/opportunities-for-individuals/young-people/european-voluntary-service_en (nice little overview)
** https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/node/3_en (who can take part)
*** http://europa.eu/youth/splash (the background looks scary until you choice a language.. then it is lovely)