When I was 14 years old, firstly kept in touch with local NGO operating in my home-town. I was engaged in the several different activities organized by them for school students both in school-based and town-spread (clean-ups, charity actions, street actions, etc.). Since then I have had several volunteering experiences linked with local newspaper (I was voluntarily writing about local youth issues for them), local government (conducting touristic routes for the whole municipal area to support tourism development in the region of Guria), etc.
During the secondary school, I was engaging in several youth work and non-formal education activities on a voluntary basis, such as camps for youngsters coming all around Georgia. In those activities I gained most part of my volunteering experience which is quite meaningful for me. Despite my young age I think I’ve done quite enough on voluntary basis what gives me an additional motivation to seek some more spectacular volunteering possibilities on an international level in this time.
I see European Voluntary Service as a spectacular possibility to keep engaging in non-formal learning process in one hand and keep doing philanthropic job to change things to better into the society I live in... While searching for the EVS project I take into consideration different things, such as: what is it about, how it can respond my interests and how my experience and knowledge can correspond to project’s/hosting organization’s needs. In particular projects I really appreciate diversity of the tasks what can guarantee multilateral experience for volunteer.
I am honoured to be able to write about an EVS opportunity as a volunteer in general, but also related to this particular project. My name is Sanja Džalto, I am 26 years old, and I acquired my Master’s Degree at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Osijek in the fields Philosophy and English Language and Literature. I am very ambitious and concerned when it comes to ecological and environmental movements, as well as animal rights movement, permaculture, etc., and maybe I will write my PhD thesis later in life.
I am a friendly, open-minded, honest, and curious person, who enjoys having conversations with different people in order to be able to look at certain things from other perspectives in order to give myself a wider range of opportunities to learn something new. I try my best to understand various types of people and get them involved in changing the world.
When it comes to my hobbies, I love travelling in a no-tourist way, but by means of participating in Erasmus+ projects and internships, so that I can get engaged with the local cultures. I am a very eco-friendly person, who cares about the environment a lot - I recycle, share leaflets about environmental issues, translate and edit various articles about it, participate in protests against slaughterhouses etc. I am also a vegetarian, and I love cooking for others, as well as to inspire them. Besides, I love nature, which often inspires me to write poems and stories, as well as jogging and mountain walks, doing yoga and meditation, and so on. Some of my other hobbies include reading (especially about oriental philosophies), listening to rock music, and volunteering at music festivals. (I volunteered in Zagreb at INmusic festival, and also at Woodstock festival in Poland, where I cooked and danced in Hare Krishna community, which were amazing and priceless experiences for me, as I met a lot of like-minded and interesting people with alternative lifestyles.)
However, as my profession is teaching, I saw that the education system in my country (as well as in the majority of the world’s countries), puts an emphasis on formal learning, using mostly archaic, old ways of getting the students acquire as more general knowledge as possible in all school subjects, and this was one of the reasons I decided to take this project opportunity – to learn more about non-formal learning – to put myself, once again, in a student’s perspective, although I was there not so long ago, and see some new ways of learning things, but this time through experience, active participating and coo-operating with colleagues, coordinators, and, what is most challenging, with high school kids whose native language I don’t understand, and who can’t speak English.
Another important thing to mention is that this is the longest and the most serious project I’ve ever been to, so I learned more than ever before how to reduce my everyday needs, to adapt, to learn from others, and, most importantly, I got inspired to accept new challenges in life.
In addition, I applied for this EVS project also because of the riding a bike opportunity, which I miss in my everyday life, and I think night rides are especially a great event for people to hang out in a different way, as what majority does is sitting in a pub and drinking beer.
To conclude, I have a lot to learn ahead of me, as I’m still new here, but so far I can already see some changes and new things I’ve learned especially on the on-arrival training, which was a great opportunity to learn how to apply theoretical knowledge in practice and workshops, together with numerous tasks we did + a lot of fun.
P.S. if you already have a job which you hate and are between 18-30 years of age, just quit it and go to EVS. It’s the best thing you can do, confirmed by each and every EVS volunteer ever.
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.