The life of a EVS Volunteer in Milan
Living the life as a EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteer, is an adventure which is best not missed out.
What is an EVS?
An EVS is a Volunteer who has decided to do a full-time voluntary service abroad in the EU for a specific amount of time. This time spans begins with a length of 2 weeks and extend to a maximum of 12 Months. The aim of the EVS is mostly to gain solidarity, Tolerance, Mature understanding and active contribution.
First steps to do
Before planning to take part in a EVS, you should make a true Self-Evaluation. You can work in different work subjects. With children or elderly people, or you can decide to work with disabled people. But you can also decide to follow a work field, regarding a specific topic such as economy, Peace, poverty, conflicts, Health care etc.
Before I decided to do my EVS, I did an evaluation of what I want to do and with whom I want to work with. I knew that I could work with children and helping elderly was no problem for me either, furthermore I was open for a lot of things. Nevertheless, the Organisation I am working with now, Casa per la Pace Milano (Haus of Peace, Milan) share the same philosophy as I do, Non-Violence.
There are no qualifications needed for an EVS, everybody who wants to do it, can do it. You should consider though, doing something which can be categorised under your stats, abilities or skills, but also regard your interests.
A Self-Evaluation, is the best thing to do, to find out whether you are up to a certain job or not. There is nothing to be ashamed of, if you are unable to do something, whether it is mentally or physically. However, if you don’t like children, then you should not consider applying for a workplace which only has to do with children. An EVS can give you the opportunity to gain new skills or strengthen old ones.
Once you know yourself a bit better, you are ready to plan and look for an EVS, which supports your interests. The easiest ways to find an EVS is searching in the internet, or going to an employment exchange, but they will probably send you to someone who is specialised on that topic. I found my sending organisation over the internet, of course then decided to go there personally. The best thing is to do things personally, even if it takes longer or is more complicated. Once arrived I was given an appointment, which in the end, ended up having a few skype interviews and then after a lot of waiting, with nervous thoughts and my imagination going wild, I got an approval. I was happy like a small child, at Christmas day.
So, know that you have an approval what to do next?
If you have never learned the language in any way, then you should really consider getting tutoring or find another way of learning the language. I for instant learned through books and tried to learn as much as possible, only to find out that everything I did, just was not enough. But things like these should never get to you personally, they should just encourage you to try harder. Make a list of what you want to learn in what time, also of all the goals you would like to reach. Write down your progress or keep a diary.
Of course, you don’t know what a EVS is like and there is no perfect way to prepare for it. But nevertheless, you should try to be prepared for anything. Look up documentaries, of the culture and behaviour and try to find a connection to it. Prepare yourself as good as you can, by the time you have reached this point, you are only a few more weeks or months away from your EVS. History is very important, you should now at least a bit of the history of your EVS country, this makes it easier to understand some people better or even their perspective of things. Through the knowledge of history, you would also know which topic to talk about and which one you should better never mention.
Arriving at your EVS
It is time to meet your new work place and living area, so now that you have prepared yourself for anything, you should be confident about the unknown. You will probably share your flat or living space with other volunteers or co-worker, at the beginning everything will probably be great. But fights always arise, it is just the question what you make of them.
The average person needs 3 months to sync with his or her new environment, therefore if you don’t feel comfortable with your situation, you will eventually. As an EVS you will have a “on arrival training” this experience could be one of the best. My, on-arrival Training was in Rome and I was one of the best experience I had in my life. I met so many people that it was hard remembering all their names, thus I build up relationship one by one. After only a few days I managed to build a strong friendship, with some of the great people. I was then able to visit their city in Italy. Through these contacts I was able to see different worlds of Italy, which was unbelievable! So far, I have visited Bologna which is a city which is modern but still has lot of old architecture, the real Italian atmosphere is not 100% but you can sense it. Bologna and Rome are very nice, but the best trip was definitely Agrigento. I visited my friends which I gained through the on-arrival training for 5 days, it was a dream! In only these few days, Agrigento stole me, I cannot wait to go there again. Of course, I miss my friends much more! The atmosphere and living style was completely different. I went there in the first week of December 2017, despite it being December I was still able to walk around in T-Shirt, it was as if it was summer. Now I am looking forward for the winter time, to visit my family and old friends who I deeply miss. Doing an EVS is hard if you are a family person, but I would never trade this time against anything.
Living your life in your new city
If you are someone who never spoke the language before, like me and my Italian, you should just never give up, ever! You will eventually, be able to speak the language, after a few months of course. Now you live in a new country, with a different culture and a different the environment. Personally, I was and still am extremely interested about everything. So you should definitely look around, look at the city or village, the architecture, the people, the atmosphere the culture just everything. Don’t waste your time, because time is running out faster then you think. But when two cultures meet there can sometimes be some trouble and fights, I do admit I had some fights too, yet the most important thing, is that you work everything out and continue working together. You are staying together with other cultures, for probably a long time, so just find a conclusion to move on peacefully. With this experience you just might, be able to understand different clash of cultures and even understand some in which war was created and still exists.
After a few months have passed, you have gotten used to everything, your work and living environment. After 4 months of my EVS, I have gained so much experience in different things. Due to my organisation a was able to paint a market wall to lighten up a neighbourhood which is very poor.
I was able to spread the word, in the topic nuclear weapons and how much they could influence the world. I was able to gain new skills in IT, Communication and Marketing. I am sure that I will use these skills for the rest of my life. So now it is time to build some relationships, if you not have done so already. Think about what you want to achieve and don’t let it slip out of your head. There is probably not a lot of time left for you to reach every goal you made for yourself, but you should continue trying to reach your goals. Make connections and try to keep them for life, at some point they might really be important. Especially if you create very good friendships, which could give you possibilities to visit your EVS country again. But never forget the most important thing, have fun and enjoy your EVS.