European Voluntary Service & On-arrival training

This blog is part of our EVS project “Space for Culture 2017”. The four of us are volunteering in A4 for a year; from Sept 2017 until Sept 2018. European Voluntary Service is a project from the European Union, in which young people can go abroad to volunteer for 2 to 12 months. 

EVS is for young people between 17 and 30 years old who want to volunteer in another country. All expenses will be paid by the Erasmus grant of the European Union. Volunteers get money for food, pocket money, local transport and a place to live. However, depending on the country, the money you get is enough to feed yourself and not much more. The volunteer work can be so many different things; helping people with disabilities, working in a center with children, like us, in a cultural center and many more different topics. To go on EVS, the volunteer has to find a sending organization and then they can apply for projects they like. Sometimes, there are already partnerships between sending and hosting organizations. Like now, A4 is looking for volunteers who want to go for EVS in Poland.
The application process could be quite hard, I sent like 20 application letters before I was accepted at A4. But I also heard that people got into an organization after just one application. It depends on a few things; previous experiences, if there are many people applying for the project and creativity.
We have been in A4 for a few months now and our chores are quite varied. These are a few examples:
-        We take care of the A4 Instagram, YouTube and A4children page on Facebook. We take the pictures and videos ourselves and then edit them.
-        Distributing posters, brochures, flyers and the zine in the city center of Bratislava, so everyone can see what amazing events we have.
-        Helping with ticket sale and the wardrobe when there are events in A4.
-        We do some administrative work and put the program on the A4-website.
-        Organizing our own projects, like this blog and the zine that’s connected to it.
-        And many more things…
I actually like to do all of my chores, because they all have some good side to it. Because I am distributing posters, I know some cool bars and places in the city. The selling tickets is great to meet people and practice my Slovak: Ďakujem‘ ‘Nech sa páči‘ ‘Dovidenia!‘ And even the administrative work is fine with some music on and just go with the flow (if I don’t have to think about it too much).
As I told earlier in this article, A4 is not only a hosting organization, but also a sending organization. Young people from Slovakia who want to go on an EVS project, can contact A4 to ask about the possibilities.
A part of the EVS experience are 3 trainings. The pre-departure training, on-arrival training (often within 2 months after arrival) and the mid-term training. The last few days we had our on-arrival training. It was a bit late, 4 months after arrival, but still very useful. On the 17th of January we went from Bratislava to Terchova, where it was going to happen. We were totally covered in snow when we arrived at the pension, because there was a snowstorm. But it was nice and warm inside and we started with some games to get to know eachothers names. After dinner we did another activity and then; party. I didn't went to the party, because I was quite tired from the travelling, socializing and all the influences of the day.
The second day was more about the projects everyone is doing. We had to make a poster with some information about our project and our feelings about it and after present it. It was very interesting to hear about the other projects and what people think about their project. Also, I didn't expect that the majority of the volunteers is not in or around Bratislava and even in some small villages where there's not as much to do as in Bratislava. After the lunch we walked up a hill to see the beautiful village from above. In the evening, of course, party.
On the third day, we went outside for 2 acitivites. The first one was a game that simulates our EVS-year. We had a time schedule and had to answer questions, go on interviews, visit our 'family' (it was a tree outside) and go to healthcare (also a tree). After that, we went to a Slovak brewery. On the way we learned a bit about Jánošík, because he was born in Terchová and there's a statue of him in the village. In the evening we did a quiz about Slovakia. We learned there about the Slovak guy who got chosen king of Madagaskar, the highest post office in Slovakia and many more random things. After the quiz, again, party!
The last full day we had was about Slovak culture and preparing our own party. It started with a presentation by the trainers. They told a bit more about the answers of the quiz we did the day before. Then, we got some information about our rights and responsibilities. In most of the projects everything was fine, but if you say your problems out loud, there's always room to negotiate and find a solution. In the afternoon we made small theaters about Slovak stereotypes and in the evening we organized a small end-of-training party.
The next morning it was time to pack our stuff. We did a small reflection on how the training helped us and after lunch we left back to our projects. It was very inspiring and I am now motivated to do more with my time here in Slovakia and not just hang around on the couch. I would like to have a more active attitude in the project and try not to be insecure or too worried about things.
I'm looking forward to the mid-term training!
For more information about our project in A4 or EVS in general, you can leave a comment or ask us when you come to A4. Also there’s some more information on this website.