As the format of the Erasmus+ programmes is changing, this will be the final European Voluntary Service project VIEWS International will host.
Click on the links above to find out about our EVS volunteers from Romania, Italy and Germany who will complete their projects between October 2018 until July 2019.
APV's 2018 - Wella, Sophia and Adela
In May, we had the pleasure of hosting Advance Planning Visits (APV’s) for the volunteers who will participate in the European Voluntary Service project 2018/19.
What is the Advanced Planning Visit?
The APV is a truly valuable opportunity for our blind and partially sighted volunteers to familiarise themselves with their hosting and coordinating associations and to explore the city where they will live for nine months. We feel it is especially important for blind and partially sighted volunteers to have this opportunity, as they might not benefit from visual things like maps and photos.
What did the APV’s involve?
The three girls, Wella from Italy, Sophia from Germany and Adela from Romania, were all accompanied by a representative from their sending associations and spent two days in Liege meeting with their mentors, many VIEWS volunteers and of course their hosting associations where they will be working.
Wella, accompanied by Ana-rita from VIEWS Italy arrived Wednesday the 2nd of May and stayed in the EVS apartment during her visit. She met with her hosting associations Coordination Socio-Culturelle de Sainte-Marguerite and La Baraka, where she will be volunteering as a French teacher.
Sophia, accompanied by Robbie from DBSV, stayed with us from Thursday the 3rd of May until Saturday 5th.
Sophia spent a lot of time at the VIEWS office as she will be volunteering there, managing the newsletter and online communications. She also met with La Baraka, as Sophia’s project will also include weekly volunteering there coordinating activities for the young people.
Adela, accompanied by Adrian from Sakura Romania were also able to stay in the EVS apartment between the 28th and 30th of May and visited IRHOV, the school where she will be volunteering for her project.
The APV’s also included meetings with –
- a French teacher who will provide one-to-one adapted language lessons
- a volunteer who will provide one-to-one mobility lessons
- a volunteer who will support them with daily living skills
- Staff and volunteers from VIEWS International, their coordinating association
This year, the future volunteers also had the added benefit of meeting with the current EVS volunteers, Elin and Corto. This was a great opportunity for the future volunteers to get a first hand insight into what it will be like for them working on their projects and a valuable chance to ask lots of questions.
We were very happy to meet Wella, Sophia and Adela and we look forward to welcoming them back to Liege in October 2018.
Overview of Adela's EVS
My name is Adela, I am 28 years old and I am blind and I come Romania.
Last October, I started a European Voluntary Service, funded by Erasmus+ program.
In the frame of this project, I had the opportunity to work in special education with visually impaired children from 5 to 18 at the IRHOV (Royal Institute for Earing and Visually impaired).
At primary school, I worked on the computer with two 8-year-old children. Together we learned how to use the keyboard. With a 12-year-old child we learned how to use some shortcuts, we did some grammar exercises and some reading comprehension exercises.
I also worked with a nearly 6-year-old girl who I started working on the Braille Alphabet with.
Furthermore, every Thursday, together with their teach we played board games, sank, listened to music, cooked, we did some manual working, etc…
At secondary school, I first tried to work with a nearly blind child in the cyber room.
As soon as the teacher let me know that she didn’t need me because she could manage herself, I switched from computer to cooking classes. I enjoy the cooking classes not only because I can work with children but also because the teacher appreciates my advice regarding how a visually impaired can cook.
Thanks to this project, I was given the opportunity not only to work with children but also to find out some differences between the Belgian and Romanian. I was nicely surprised to discover that, unlike the Romanian, the Belgian are more open-minded regarding visual impairment.
As a conclusion, I would like to encourage youngsters to embrace the opportunity to take part in a volunteer project. It brings us closer to each other and also to ourself.
Presentation of Sophia's EVS and her impressions
Presentation of my EVS and my impressions
My EVS started on October 15, 2018, so it’s been four months now. The first two months were very hard because I did not speak Spanish and I had trouble finding my bearings.
From the second week I went to the training of arrival in Oviedo in the north of Spain, it was very complicated because I did not understand many things in addition to the fact that the training was very tiring. The good news is that I have met a lot of people, about 20.
When I got back from that training, I started the project. The administrative level was very complicated especially to open a bank account because I had not been warned about the need for a passport. However after negotiating with the bank they agreed to open an account for me and I finally got my money.
Voluntary activities began in November; we created the first video to advertise EVS. In addition, we presented the EVS programme to associations of people with reduced mobility.
I also participate in language clubs and radio classes with people with mental health issues. At first I started with language clubs in English and French, but as my English level is not very good, it was replaced by French and Spanish tandems. It took a long time to get them because I had to insist several times and time goes by too fast, we were already in the Christmas period before everything was put in place properly.
I continue to participate in French language clubs with people between 22 and 37, and another group of children between 12 and 14, they are approximately 20. The course takes place on Friday afternoon from 5 pm to 7 pm by consequence they are all tired and do nothing.
Murcia’s youth service asked me if I could animate even once the French course with senior citizens, which I accepted. So I had the opportunity to realize it for the first time in my life.
At the end of January, the second compulsory training in Mollina, is 65 km from Malaga. It was 1000 times more pleasant than the first because I understood much more and it was less tiring. I’ve been able to meet many more people.
Thanks to my Spanish level which has improved greatly since the beginning of the adventure I can now visit many more regions in Spain.
During my free time I travel a lot, I drink (drinks), eat good tapas with people I met in Murcia, I go to the pool once a week and I go to the cecifoot B2, B3 on Sunday when it is organized. On Mondays I go to a bar with tables of conversations, there are French, Spanish, English, Italian and German.
Today we still have a lot of things to do: we still have to make two videos, a recording on the radio and also advance in my project with which I am busy to put in place for April 3. This project is a goalball demonstration at the University of Murcia and I also realize a power point with different activities for visually impaired people.
After the first two complicated months, today I feel very good and I don’t see the time passing because we have a lot of things to do and we always have to claim and wait a long time to get the different things as well as to put them in place but they don’t realize that six months is very short and that it passes quickly.
When I have to work with a team it is not always easy because I am a very organized person and my volunteer colleague does not respect the hours, etc. so it is hard to agree on the work.
Finally I would like to find another volunteering abroad because I would like to continue learning the Spanish language because it is a very beautiful language.
Valentina's EVS experience
When I was moving up the escalator through the terminal at the airport and waving to my father and mother who came to say goodbye at the airport in Bari, Italy, I couldn’t imagine that six months in Belgium will change my life from inside out. I strongly believed that my decision to accept the challenge to be an EVS volunteer in an association that was functioning as a language training center for young foreigners was the best decision I ever made and the best investment. Now when I can reflect everything that I learnt and the changes I experienced in my personal and professional development because I was determined to do it, I can only confirm that the experience as an EVS volunteer exceeded my expectations.
It is a real challenge for me to describe my EVS experience in only one page, and it is even more challenging to choose only one person who made my EVS special. Because I was blessed, supported and inspired from many people from different countries who were participants and trainers on the trainings for personal development, while my colleagues with whom I shared my EVS volunteering experience were my family in Belgium.
I reached my record of 10 trips in one month. For that event I must thank Ann, my colleague from Paris, who took the initiative to book a Flixbus every 4 days from our home to so many cities in Belgium and beyond. Together with Ann I also experienced Paris, Amsterdam and Düsseldorf for the first time.
Philippe, one of my colleague at La Baraka helped me to regain my self- confidence, to believe in my potential and to strive to be whatever I want to be. Philippe was a huge support to me and I will always remember his sentence: Valentina you can.
Anca was my tutor, and she was the person who had huge impact on me in overcoming my fears and wrong beliefs. My wrong belief was that I couldn’t express myself by using my knowledge and my imagination in the activities done by over 20 young people in the neighbourhood. During my first day of work, everybody was sitting around a tableand participated in the activity, and I was glued on the floor, sitting and observing, not having the courage to make a move. My fears and insecurity were growing with every second, until the moment when Philippe came to me and said: You still have time to join. I started with my excuses saying that I can’t make this in front of so many people. Philippe both with a sharp and soft voice said:“This is the chance. You have two options: to use this opportunity or waste it”.
I don’t know how I got the courage, but I stood up, not thinking about what and how to do it. My mouth was moving, I gave it the freedom to express itself by joining the other people around me. It was amazing. When I finished, I received a lot of compliments. The second time that Philippe was my trainer was in preparing the final tests. His support was enormous. Thanks to him I succeeded in confronting myself, a process that was not at all easy; to reach my inner peace, to realize that I love myself and my life, and most of all to throw off the mask of a strong person and let everyone see how vulnerable I am.
When I showed my vulnerability I became a new person; a person who knew that the change has already started, the SVE was started. It was my time to change, and this time I was completely ready to go for it. Believe me; the process of changing your thoughts and belief programmes was not easy at all, but trust me it was worth it. I say it is worth it, because now I am saying that it is good to be me.