EVS is a great opportunity you cannot miss out!
I finished my experience in Nizhny Novgorod a few weeks ago, and I realize that it was just what I needed. It filled my life with renovated energy and joy.
Thanks to EVS I got the chance to work every day in a kindergarten for children with disabilities, alongside an experienced elder teacher. She was usually the only one taking care of an entire class of seventeen children with disabilities aged between three and five, certainly an exhausting job!
With most of the children there was a spontaneous and immediate bonding, one of a kind only kids are capable of. All the same with some of them I had to really work hard to earn their trust and affection. I learnt to love them day by day and our communication and connection grew in different ways with each of the children. Many of them couldn’t speak at all, but we learnt to understand each other through a personal and unique language. I will keep them in my heart forever.
With the senior staff as well I could notice at the beginning a natural hint of prudence towards me. By the end of the project I was surprised to look back on how things were and how they changed with time. My everyday challenge was to show them reliability and commitment and I can say that by the end I was rewarded with warmness, gratitude, and trust.
Working in a country that is not yours, immersed in a culturally different background can be challenging. I sometimes found myself in disagreement with school’s educational methods and I didn’t know how to express my position without being too invasive. I tried to show them other options through my behaviour towards children. I hope I gave some positive contribution, and I am sure that they taught me a lot too. That’s the beauty of intercultural collaboration!
Alongside the official program, during EVS volunteers are given the chance to develop their own personal project and this is an amazing opportunity. For instance, while I was in Nizhny Novgorod the other volunteers and I ideated a language school called “Kanareika”. Every week we taught our native languages to Russian students at our organization. The organization supported us a lot, and people working there were always ready to help us and gave us a positive and stimulating environment. Thanks to this idea we developed useful new skills and met many Russian friends. With the money we earnt from language lessons, we visited some school in the villages around the city. Here we got to know a different side of Russia, life in the villages is very different from the one in the cities and I suggest everybody coming to Russia to go visit some villages to get to know the authentic heart of the country.
I have always been for some reason fascinated by Russia, living there for six months made my interest grow. I had the chance to travel a little bit through the country, speak with many Russians and people from all over the world, this was a very enriching experience for me, from every point of view. It caught me so much that I am planning to go back to Russia in a few months, I want to keep studying Russian and see where this path will bring me.
Last but not least, the people I met in Russia made this experience so great! My fellow volunteers are a second family for me, sharing life with them was just wonderful!
EVS was for me a chance to be how I want to be. It was a new starting point, it set me free from my fears and changed my life. I will try my best not to lose this “EVS attitude” in the coming years, but I guess it’s that kind of thing that once you get it, it stays with you. Don’t be shy and join EVS, it’s the right choice!!
Author Marta Terzoli, Италия