What is EVS?

This text I wrote for the FB page of Zavod O. Sooner or later I will put some more:)

European Voluntary Service (EVS) is a program that gives young people the opportunity to spend up to 12 months abroad as volunteers, helping the local community with projects in various fields. It represents Action 2 of the Youth in Action program and includes all countries in EU and Neighbouring partner countries*. The volunteer can participate in activities in all kind of different fields: environment, arts and culture, activities with children, youngsters or elderly people, cultural heritage, sport and etc.

“So…what? I don’t have money to live abroad, to be volunteer and to pay my costs.”

Actually it doesn’t cost you almost anything (at least no money). Accommodation and living costs, language courses, guidance, medical insurance and 90 % of the travel costs to the project country and back are paid for you. In addition every volunteer has pocket- and food money which amount depends on the concrete country.

“Cool, but maybe I’m too old. I’m not a teenager anymore with my 26 years of age.”

Breathe! EVS is for young people aged between 18 and 30.

“Aha. Ok. And if I like to do sport and I like to draw where and how can I find a suitable project for me?”

You can search on the web site of your National agency, or in the following database sources. There you should find short descriptions of the projects, when it starts and finishes and contacts of the host organization. Here you have the links:

http://www.mva.si/movit-na-mladina/

http://ec.europa.eu/youth/evs/aod/hei_en.cfm

“And when I find a project I have to contact the organization and they will take me?”

Almost. First they have to approve your candidature. It is a bit similar like when you apply for a job. Maybe they will ask you for CV and motivation letter. In case you were approved you have to find a Sending organization. Imagine – without a Sending organization you will be like a letter without post stamp.

“Ok, so I just see the list of NGO and take one and ask them to send me, ah?”

It is necessary that your sending and hosting organizations are approved. You can check this on the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/evs/aod/hei_en.cfm. In our region Zavod O has the accreditation to host and also to send European volunteers.

“What about if I’m just interested in some project, but I don’t have any experiences or proper education?”

It doesn’t really matter. YOU are more important than your education! One of the main aims of this program is the non-formal education (the one that doesn’t take place in institutions like schools) and intercultural dialog, sharing values and building bridges between you, your interests and the new environment. To be honest, your project is the frame, you can draw inside it or you can spread your ideas all over. You will be supported by your hosting organization and your personal mentor to realize and express your vision and values.

“Will I be like an ordinary worker or does it depend on me how much time and when I will work on the project?”

EVS doesn’t provide extra workers for the participating organizations. This is not what it is about! But you will have some fixed working hours per week, that shouldn’t be more than 35. To be a volunteer abroad will help you to experience your identity more sharply, to acquire new knowledge, to try new things in a safe environment, to being exposed to intercultural challenges that can lead you to intercultural shock as well. Changes will be part of your life.

“It is in a way responsible.”

Yes, but first you’re responsible for yourself to clarify rather you like this kind of experiences or not so much. To help you a bit, think on those questions when you’re making your decision and you can discuss your answers with the people from your sending or hosting organization. They can help you anyway.

Main one: What does volunteering mean to you?

1) Do you have enough information and clear vision what is EVS?

2) Have you ever lived abroad and for how long? Did you have any international experiences before?

3) Are you studying or working or doing something else? How will you combine this with EVS?

4) Have you discussed this possibility with your family and friends? Do you have their support?

5) Do you mind to live in a hosting family or to share a room?

“I will think of this, but maybe somebody already told about his or her experiences…”

Of course. If you need information from first hand sources you can read some stories from EVS volunteers online. Type in google “EVS Magazine contact 2009” and enjoy.

Sincerely yours

EVS volunteer – Plamena

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