What can you learn through EVS? Depends on what you are doing and where you are staying, but in my case, I learned a lot.
- Through lessons
- and New experiences
I had Bulgarian lessons with a very good teacher, so I can have a (minimal) conversation in the language, despite practising it only some times now. There were also training courses for the volunteers in Bulgaria, basic uses of psychology, problem solving, team building, leadership, and many other tools that were very useful in our stay in the projects. Both were extremely helpful in all the time I’ve been here and will be useful in the future. CEI organised a forum theater training, and with a few local volunteers, we learned a lot about how to perform, and the focus of, forum theatre. I’ve also had some workshops across the year, horo (the national folklore dance) and Roma music, are two workshops that come to mind.
Bulgarian culture isn’t so different from the Portuguese, but when it is I always notice, and those differences make me see that not everything has to be „like that“, there isn’t only one way that things have to be done. From traditions and history to celebrations and struggles we had a very good view of Bulgaria. I’ve learned a lot about my country also, by seeing how people live in their own environment , and from all the people from different countries I’ve met (Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, France, Germany, Georgia…) I learned the details and differences of how living in those countries can be compared to living in mine.
Through the many friends I’ve made, and the many arguments I’ve had, I learned that there are many different people in the world in view, goals, and expectations. That problems can be a matter of perspective and that you’re never too old to party. I heard new sounds in new languages I’ve never heard before. They taught me about me, about living and about what to avoid in the future. For me some of the most important lessons I’ve leaned wouldn’t be possible without all the people I’ve met directly because of EVS.
From camping and travelling to leading a multinational presentation with youngsters, I dealt with hard situations, small emergencies, and accidents. Some of them I didn’t know how to deal with, but with some „black magic“(trial and error) and common sense its possible to find out why something isn’t working, how to coordinate big groups of people, and that a flood in the kitchen isn’t the end of the world.
This, of course, is the most interesting part of EVS, be it living alone for the first time, participating in the Bulgarian old traditions and events, working with kids from very different realities, or having an EVS training. Not every day, but in the first months almost, I encounter situations I’ve never experienced, or imagined being in. Different countries brings different mentalities and the food, the parties, the shops, the economy, the shower… can be different, so hitch-hiking , camping, playing in a bar jam session, staying at a hostel or facilitating a multilingual team in a European event, were things I’ve never really saw myself doing. And then there are those things that I’ve always wanted to do, and I did here.