Lucy, in the frame of European Voluntary Service program (EVS) offered 12 months of voluntering work at ELIX during our project "EN.SU.RE. Inclusion - Enhanced Support for Refugee Inclusion" with the financial support of the European Commission.
Dear future volunteer,
you are thinking about starting a new journey. A journey that is called EVS. I remember so well how I felt before choosing this new path. I had just graduated from university, realized I needed a break before continuing with my master studies, thought it would be somehow nice to go abroad and was seeking to bring something good into the world. During my studies I was always wondering if it can be enough to read and write exams. I was ready to leave my desk and actually do something, bring a change.
So I ended up in Athens, Greece and joined an EVS project at ELIX with the title: EN.SU.RE Inclusion. Now being at at the end of my EVS I can say that year has been for sure very colorful and diverse. I got to know so many different people, different views on the world, tried to find my place in the organization, in the city, sometimes succeeded sometimes failed. Had periods where i was missing responsible tasks, had times where I was overwhelmed by having to take the lead. Had days where I felt lonely, had days where I was impressed being part of an international team.
I was able to discover new passions during my EVS. Loved being able to join the ELIX yoga classes every day, sharing a peaceful practice with people from all over the world. Loved walking down the streets, following the street arts, feeling the vibrance of the city. And totally fell in love with the sun- that is shining almost all year and bathes buildings and people in a golden light.
Maybe you are curious what my every day at ELIX looked liked. And I can tell you it is not easy to say. During my 12 months, I assisted in the classrooms of the Learning Center for refugee children and migrants, supported in the kindergarten, helped in the Community Center, worked in the office, shot and edited videos, organized seminars for volunteers, helped to lead Work Camps and Youth Exchanges.
The Youth Exchanges under the theme of #yes4diversity I can name as highlights of my time in Athens. We welcomed over 20 people from different countries and had the chance to exchange our ideas about cultural diversity and social inclusion. It was moving to see that young people were so courageous to jump into cold waters, open to learn from one another. All together we built a peaceful, diverse community. An example of how it could work in the world.
Another aspect I had the chance to dive into more deeply during my EVS was the principles of non-formal education. Before coming to Athens I didn’t really have an idea what that could mean. Being used to formal education where the teacher provides knowledge to the students through powerpoint presentations and worksheets, exploring knowledge in a group while being involved actively widened my horizon. I experienced how an environment where people see each other as a community and actively listen to each other can benefit the learning outcome.
What I can recommend to you as a new EVS volunteer is to be brave. Brave to think about what you like to do, what you like to share and can offer to your project. Be curious to try new things, communicate openly and from your heart with the people around you. From the time I started to do that my EVS took a big turn. I wish you all the best in beautiful Athens. I am sure this journey will be an exciting one for you. Γεια σου, Lucy
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