3 months of EVS at One World Institute. If you are a young European, European Voluntary Service is your opportunity to volunteer in a foreign country. At One World Institute, September marked the middle of our first EVS project. The EVS volunteers share their experience from 3 months of work and travelling in Norway and Denmark.
“Make a change – Be a Best Buddy!” is a youth inclusion project that brings together socially disadvantaged youngsters and EVS volunteers, who become the youngsters’ Best Buddies. In Nihat’s words, “We are trying to be best friends for young people who need special help and education. That’s not easy ‘cause most of them come from poor life levels, criminal and bad family backgrounds… We are trying to teach them about real life and personal development – these are the most important things.”
Currently, the team is working with their second group of youngsters – making plans for personal development, practicing community life at One World Institute and creating adventurous experiences, like theme nights and survival trips. “When the youngsters need to solve some issues in the future, I hope they will be ready for it,” says Nihat.
The challenges that comes with EVS volunteering
On top of caring for youngsters, the EVS team has participated in multiple activities and events in Hornsjoe. George reminisces on Hornsjoe Olympics, a special event for guests with fewer opportunities: “The hotel hosted a large group of refugee families, and we were asked to create an active and fun program for them. It mostly revolved around outdoor and sports activities. Before I knew it, I had to oversee all the “manly” parts, such as boating and hiking. Me, who had never been a sports person! However, I embraced the role and it actually turned out great.”
Together with other volunteers, the EVS team organized energizers, a workshop on contact staff juggling, a hike and boating on the Hornsjoe lake. For guests who stayed indoors, Chiara and Salome made a musical and artistic program. It was their first time working with a large group of people from different cultures. “In the end, I was grateful, sweaty and happy,” George concludes. “In two days like never before, I’ve met people I never thought I would. We bonded, shared and had fun!”
Another highlight for the EVS volunteers was a trip to Denmark, where they learned more about social work and volunteered in the preparation of Tvind OL’17 – a multi-sport event for youngsters from Danish carehomes and specially adapted schools. Salome shares the motto of the event: “Run Like a Zebra! – this is a motto I will remember for a long time! We were working together to create this amazing event for 600 competitors in different sport disciplines.”
While her teammates supported other disciplines and practical preparation, Salome became responsible for hitting sports. “It was like going step by step through the stages of a difficult game – first, you don`t know all the rules and can`t even find them on Google! Second, how to organize the disciplines? So, it was a big challenge.” It was also a big learning experience in communication and team work. “I was like Sponge Bob (concentrate on the word ‘sponge’), who is positive, full of energy and trying to soak in everything new. As I can tell now, working on a project abroad with foreign people calls for excellent team spirit.”
EVS is so much more
After Tvind OL’17, the volunteers returned to Norway for their next EVS adventure – a national EVS Arrival Seminar that took place in Balestrand, Western Norway. For Chiara, it is the favourite memory until now. “The place where we stayed is “Ciderhuset”, a farm house located in the middle of a fruit orchard. We were welcomed by 2 trainers: Tuba and Gaard. Thanks to them, we had a really good time. They put so much effort in making this experience unforgettable.”
For a week, the team and other EVS volunteers from projects in Norway learned about the country’s history, Scandinavian culture and aspects of European Voluntary Service. “Each activity that we did was funny and interactive. For example, we did little performances about different periods from Norwegian history. One was about vikings, another about the Norwegian languages – Bokmål and Nynorsk. We also had some Norwegian lessons and learned some songs. I must say that the Norwegian birthday song will remain permanently in my mind.”
So has passed the volunteers’ summer with EVS at One World Institute – exploring Norway, organizing social sports events, meeting friends from different countries and cultures, and, most importantly, supporting youngsters with fewer opportunities in the project “Make a change – be a Best Buddy!” The team has returned to the school and their role as Best Buddies with new skills and insights. What does the future hold? Nihat says, “Now, I have 3 more months in this project. I’m looking forward to continue with all my energy.”
One World Institute Norway offers many volunteering opportunities for everyone who wants to get involved. Read about volunteering in Africa.
For more details about EVS under Erasmus+ programme, click here.