My name is Sanja and I'm 26 years old volunteer from Croatia. I was bent around the idea of becoming an EVS volunteer since I went to my first youth exchange in one small Hungarian village 4 years ago. That incredible experience made me realize that it's a way better to spend your time in a remote, unknown village with some new amazing internationals than to visit big cities for a few days, by travel agencies, with your fellows, and just take photos, walk around, and go back home unchanged under the surface.
First I was just curious about EVS opportunities, what it was, etc., and, after participating in 3 training courses afterwards, and 2 more youth exchanges, I was determined to do it as well at one point of life. I've always wanted to travel in a no-tourist way, as it provides much more colourful experience, such as getting to know the local people and culture, as well as meeting interesting people from different countries with whom you share the same goal of making an impact on both yourselves and the local communities.
It's important to mention that I had a permanent job before this project for one year and a half after I'd finished university, but I needed a break and launching into the unknown, also in order to give myself time to think and reflect what I really want to do in life. This project made me feel the global needs more than ever before, especially environmentally-related, but maybe it's one of the important steps, however, to get to know better one small part of the world and try to do something there, and, of course, always be the change you want to see in the world.
I chose Latvia as my EVS country, although I was received already in another organization elsewhere, because I didn't know anything in particular about Baltic countries except the capital cities and a bit of history, but after spending 2 months here, I've already experienced so much of what “being Latvian“ refers to, and learned things no tourist guide would ever be able to show or teach me.
In addition, EVS is, at the same time, a participant's personal project within the outward, formal one he/she applies for. There are, certainly, tasks to do and responsibilities to undertake, but it's up to a volunteer to see what he/she can do in order to feel satisfied with themselves and the project as a whole. The funny thing is that a lot of EVS volunteers are so-called “quitters“, as majority of us left our jobs or universities etc., so that we can, seemingly, escape reality for a while, but reality is what one creates in the given circumstances, time, and place, and to take a chance to get away from the comfort zone is the best thing to do to overcome all those obstacles and prejudice preventing one's personal growth and international co-operation and understanding.
Strategic EVS project “Corners of Europe” is financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union that in Latvia is administrated by Agency for International Programs for Youth. This publication reflects only the viewpoint of the author.