The projects and activities that can be funded under Erasmus+ are summarised in three key actions: Mobility of individuals (KA1), Cooperation for Innovation and Exchange of Good Practices (KA2) and Support for Policy Reform (KA3).
OBC has years’ experience in key action 1, providing opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness.
Youth exchanges enable young people to discover new cultures and friends, develop new competences, and better appreciate values like solidarity and democracy. The learning process is based on non-formal education.
To participate in a youth exchange project you need to link-up with a participating organisation. It can be a non-profit organisation, association, NGO, public body at local, regional or national level or a social enterprise.
Young volunteers have the opportunity to contribute to the daily work of organisations dealing with youth information and policies, young people’s personal and socio-educational development, civic engagement, social care, inclusion of disadvantaged, environment, non-formal education programmes, ICTs and media literacy, culture and creativity, development cooperation etc.
Young people with fewer opportunities can receive additional support to enable their participation and would also be allowed to go on EVS for a shorter duration of time (from 2 weeks and up). A project can include between 1 and 30 volunteers who can do their voluntary service either individually or in group.
A successful EVS project requires close co-operation among at least three key players: the sending organisation, the receiving organisation, the volunteer.
The essential costs for volunteers’ participation in the EVS activity are covered by the Erasmus+ grant or through other means afforded by the participating organisations. Volunteers receive free board and lodging, insurance cover and a grant for the duration of the project (in some cases they may be asked for a contribution for travel costs).
Besides the support provided to the volunteers by the participating organisations, the National Agencies or regional SALTOs organise a Training and Evaluation Cycle48 to be attended by each volunteer and consisting of: a) an on-arrival training for voluntary services lasting 2 months and longer; b) a mid-term evaluation, for voluntary services lasting 6 months and longer.
The EVS aims to develop solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people, while contributing to strengthening social cohesion and promoting active citizenship. The learning experience is formally recognized through a Youthpass .
How to find opportunities for EVS? Give a look at EVS database: http://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/evs-organisation_en
Project´s objectives are to raise knowledge and consciousness about EVS and volunteering in general, raise consciousness about the value and importance of it and raise knowledge about certificates of competences gained through volunteering, in Croatia and in countries of partners as well as wider on international level through dissemination activities.
Activities in the project are: workshops for youngsters in Croatia about EVS; workshops for representatives of different sectors about EVS, job shadowing at our associated partners that organize EVS within different sectors – Lahti city – public administration sector, Almenaras from Spain – organize EVS at Home for elderly, Yerevan University – educational institution; seminar for representatives from all partner and associated partner countries in the 1st year of project to exchange experiences and practices and the final activity – Conference in Croatia in 2020 to present and disseminate results of the project, outcomes and measured impact, with relevant stakeholders, partner organizations, institutions, youth and representatives from different sectors.
During project 4 longterm EVS volunteers will be involved, 2 in 1st year – from Italy and Macedonia and 2 in 2nd year of project – from Czech Republic and Slovenia. Volunteers will gain valuable key competences and skills, and we will choose volunteers that face economic, social or educational obstacles.
Volunteers will be involved in all aspects and activities of this project as a part of the project team.
More about the project: EVS for All.
“Embrace the challenge – make a change”: longterm volunteering in Outward Bound Croatia 15.1.2019 – 15.11.2019.
The project “Embrace the challenge – make a change” will give the opportunity to four youngsters from Spain, Greece, Slovakia and Poland to spend 10 months volunteering in Outward Bound Croatia. Their tasks will include helping out in organising our non-formal and experiential learning activities for youth in Zagreb as well as implementing them in the field in our educational center in Veliki Žitnik.
Spending 10 months volunteering in an NGO in a foreign country will give them the opportunity for personal development, significant skills and experience that will enhance their future employment and develop their solidarity and motivation to become active citizens.
Youth exchange „Include some Drama“
The youth exchange „Include some Drama“ with the topic of social inclusion and theatre will take place in Cernička Šagovina from the 4th to the 10th of July 2019. The exchange is held under the Erasmus+ program for youth mobility and it will gather 30 youngsters facing fewer opportunities from 17 to 21 years old from 5 countries – Spain, Macedonia, Italy, Lithuania and Croatia. The youngsters will organize and take part in activities such as improvisational theatre, debates, community service and many more, during which they will gain important life competences such as teamwork, communication, planning and organizing, they will improve their language skills and of course, collect countless unforgivable experiences and friends from all over Europe.
We are looking forward to this dramatic exchange!
Youth exchange „Together for a change“: New skills for a change in the society
The Erasmus+ youth exchange „Together for a Change“ will take place in our educational center in Veliki Žitnik from the 19th of February to the 2nd of March 2019 with the present topic of social inclusion and development of Erasmus+ key competences and skills for youth with fewer opportunites. Four countries will be participating in this youth exchange: Finland, Romania, Spain and Croatia with 24 youngsters aged from 17 to 22.
Participants who will take part in this youth exchange have been part of writing and planing this project. Apart from them, included will also be participants with diverse fewer opportunities. Through a lot of interactive workshops, projects and researches, as well as through interaction with the local community, they will through these 12 days conclude the needs of the society there and get involved in starting changes for the present youth. Connected to that participants will get an insight in photography and video making skills, as well as the chance to edit their collected digital materials with the topic of social inclusion. The filmed material will be presented on an exhibition in the city of Gospić by the end of the youth exchange. With this exhibition they will introduce the youth and adults to the world of Erasmus+ and help to raise the awareness of the local community about the social problems and the importance of inclusion of people with fewer opportunities in all aspects of the everyday and social life on a local, but also on a wider level.
Longterm EVS in Zagreb for 4 young volunteers 5.4.2018. – 5.1.2019.
4 young volunteers from partner organizations from Italy, Czech R., Finland and Romania had spend 9 months volunteering on Outward Bound projects and programs, in the office in Zagreb and on the field on programs for children and youth in nature, as a part of the project „Outward Bound Youth Empowerment“ and through this experience they all gained range of skills and competences for future work or education.
Short terms EVS – “Lika Winter” 2nd – 17th November 2018
From 2nd – 17th of November, 18 youngsters aged 18 to 30 from 9 different countries (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania, and Macedonia) gathered in the rural region of Lika in Outward Bound Croatia’s educational center for the short-term EVS „Lika Winter EVS“. The volunteers helped the local community in various different ways: assisting the elderly in Gospić and surrounding villages with everyday chores (eg. cutting wood, helping with garden-work), got creative with kids and youngsters in the kindergarten, primary school and high school (designing and implementing workshops) and furthermore organised 2 fun and educational events for youth in Gospić at the cultural informational centre (KIC).
The objectives of this project were to help out and enrich the life of the local community, to promote volunteering and EU values (solidarity, diversity, tolerance, interculturality on a local, national, and international level) and to provide the volunteers with new experiences and with the opportunity to develop their skills and competences for lifelong learning.
Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Active and Creative (15th-21st October 2018)
The youth exchange „Active and Creative“ will be held from the 15th to the 21st of October 2018 in Veliki Žitnik and will involve participants from six different European countries.
36 youngsters aged 16 to 21 from Denmark, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Croatia, and will spend 7 days in Outward Bound’s Educational center in Veliki Žitnik. This is a youth exchange financed by the Erasmus+ programme whose aim it is to enrich youngsters with international experience and new skills through non-formal education methods, as well as to create friendships among peers from across European borders.
The goal of this youth exchange is for the participants to work on their intercultural sharing, awareness and tolerance, furthermore they can improve and work on their creativity. Also, they will gain more skills and knowledge about event planning, working together in a team, and on communicating with others. Participants will experience the local rural lifestyle, traditional arts and crafts such as felting wool, working with clay, cheese-making and traditional folkdances from all the participating countries. During the project the youngsters will have the opportunity to not only learn more about each other and to work in a big international group, but also about their cultural heritage and languages and about youth mobility that Erasmus+ provides.
Shortterm EVS „Leave your trace“ in August 2018, Veliki Žitnik
24 youngsters aged 17 to 30 from 8 countries (Latvia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Spain) will spend two weeks volunteering in Outward Bound’s educational center in Veliki Žitnik. The project is a follow up of the short term „Lika Spring“ EVS which took place in May. Volunteers will learn basic techniques of wood work with hand tools and will contribute with their work to build paths, a canopy and wooden furniture and decorative material for the surroundings of the educational center in order to make it more functional and user-friendly for future visitors and participants. Also they will contribute to improving the quality of life of the local community by cleaning up several places in the village from inappropriate waste disposal. By taking part in the project the younsters will develop competences for life-long learning, gain a valuable international experience and many friendships with peers from other European countries.
Short term EVS Dragon´s quest near Gračac 18. – 31.7.2018.
16 volunteers from Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Bulgaria will gather for 2 weeks in a small village Tomin Gaj near Gračac to help the local community in preparation and implementation of the festival Dragon´s quest that is taking place 26. – 30.7.2018. They will clean the environment, organize creative workshops, help in different aspects of the festival, and for 2 weeks they will camp and cook outdoors so they will learn a lot about living in harmony with nature.
Youth exchange „Opened minds, broadened horizons“ 18. – 24.2.2018.
This bilateral youth exchange between Outward Bound Croatia and organization „R3 Maahanmuuttahanuorten tuki ry” from Finland, took place in OBC educational centre in Veliki Žitnik, gathering 59 youngsters – 24 youngsters with immigrant backgroud from Finland with their 6 team leaders and 26 youngsters from Croatia mostly form Gospić and surroundings, with 3 team leaders. Through group and creative team work, young participants of this youth exchange developed their intercultural competences, learnt about customs and traditions, developed tolerance and understanding, had a chance to break the prejudices and open their minds to differences.
Short term EVS “EVS at CU´FUS” 8.-22.5.2018. in Samobor
2 week EVS “EVS at CU´FUS” gathered 10 volunteers from 4 countries – Spain, France, Macedonia and Slovenia during CU´FUS – Circus street festival in Samobor, Croatia that happened from 17 –20 May 2018.
Volunteers came 10 days before the festival and stayed 2 days after to help in all different aspects of preparing, organizing and closing and evaluating the festival. Young volunteers learned about structure of a circus street festival, took part in all different organizational aspects connected with event management, media, communications and public relations, graphical design, digital media, photography and filmmaking, scenography and technical support of the festival.
Shortterm EVS „Lika Spring“ 14.-27.5.2018 in Veliki Žitnik
16 volunteers from 4 countries (Italy, Macedonia, Greece and Romania) participated in a volunteer camp that took place during two weeks in Outward Bound’s educational center. The volunteers learned basic skills of using hand tools and woodwork and contributed with their work to the interior design of the center which will be used by future participants. They also helped to renew the permacultural urban garden in Gospić and in that way took part in the manifestation „Croatia volunteers“. They also helped in the nearby permacultural farm and thus learned about sustainable living principles. During their two-weeks stay in Veliki Žitnik thee volunteers developed the awareness of the importance of active participation in society for the development of the community and the individual and of the need for a personal contribution to nature protection.
„For the self and for the community“ longterm EVS
For 10 months four youngsters, Sigita from Latvia, Andrea from Czech Republic, Cian from Finland and Vlad from Romania decided to leave everything back home and spend their time volunteering in Outward Bound Croatia. Their EVS project consisted of taking part in activities our organisation implements for youngsters, namely Outward Bound programs and international youth programs as well as workshops in schools and in organising those activities. That way the volunteers gained insight into the work of an NGO in the field of youth work and outdoor education, developed various personal, social, intercultural and specific skills connected to this work field. The volutneers contributed with their work and ideas to the creative development and quality implementation of our activities and in that way helped the final target group – the community.
YE “Nature and art for a new start” Veliki Žitnik 14 – 20 October 2017.
Youth Exchange “Nature and art for a new start” gathered 32 young people aged 13-21 from 5 European countries (Croatia, Denmark, Turkey, Lithuania, France) facing several difficulties or with migrant background during 7 days in the Educational center of Outward Bound Croatia in the village of Veliki Žitnik, Lika county, Croatia.
Participants developed an intercultural dialogue with the help of different art forms, such as photography, theater, writing and storytelling, as well as activities in nature, such as navigating, hiking, in order to develop tolerance and understanding for cultural differences, the ability to communicate openly and respectfully and to peacefully resolve conflicts as well as spot prejudice and racist attitudes and tackle them in oneself and one’s environment.
Longterm EVS “To serve to strive and not to yield” Veliki Žitnik 1.2. – 1.9.2017.
From 1st of February 2017 till 1st of September 2017, 2 volunteers from Bulgaria Alex and Mira, volunteered in OBC educational centre in Veliki Žitnik, organizing educational and info programs for local youth, helping during OBC programs, involving in local and during their EVS, they gained many useful competences and skills that they are using after their EVS – when searching for a job, continuing their education, and in their future lives in their local communities.
Longterm EVS „Building Life“ in Georgia 25.4. – 15.8.2017.
Our volunteer Melani Furlan spent 4 months in an NGO DRONI in Tbilisi, and during her EVS she focused on informing and educating young people in Georgia about renewables and sustainability, through workshops she organized, sharing and transfering her knowledge and experiences.
Longterm EVS in Armenia „Volunteer for a career“ 7.9.2016. – 3.9.2017.
Volunteer Ivana Vidović spent a year as an EVS volunteer in partner institution Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences. Through her work with students and University staff, organization and implementation of non-formal language courses, for student and poor children from local villages, organization of different cultural events and life in culturally rich capital of Armenia, with other volunteers from all over the world, Ivana developed many important life skills and professional competences.
Short-term EVS Camp “Rhythms of nature” in Veliki Žitnik, 14th -27th of August 2017
The short-term EVS Camp “Rhythms of nature“ took place from the 14th until the 27th of August in our Educational center in the village of Veliki Žitnik near Gospić town.
For two weeks, 24 skilled young people aged 17 to 30 from Spain, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Latvia, Macedonia, Czech Republic and Greece volunteered and contributed to the environment around the Outward Bound educational center, as well as the small village Veliki Žitnik, where Outward Bound programs take place.
Apart from taking care and cleaning the surrounding from trash, the volunteers were renewing paths, learned about working with wood, exchanging their knowledge about eco-friendly lifestyle in a city or village, organised thematic evenings and introduced their countries, cultures, languages and music to each other. Drumming session was definitely the one all volunteers will remember the most. Volunteers also had an info-stand in the city of Gospić, where they informed the locals about the possibilities that Erasmus+ mobility offers for the youth.
YE „Inhale, exhale“ Veliki Žitnik 2 – 9 July 2017
Youth exchange „Inhale, exhale“ gathered 25 young participants from 5 countries, Bulgaria, Germany, Latvia, Greece and Croatia. Through different non-formal learning methods using tools such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, meeting inspiring persons active in local communities of Lika region, this youth exchange gave participants opportunity to develop techniques that enable them to deal better with peer pressure, stress, self-esteem, depression and practice of healthy lifestyle not only from physical, but also mental aspect.
EVS „Volunteers at CU´FUS“ Samobor 9 – 23 May 2017
Short-term EVS “Volunteers at CU´FUS” gathered 10 volunteers from 3 countries -France, Slovenia and Serbia, aged 18 -30 for a 2 week volunteering during CU´FUS -Circus street festival in Samobor, Croatia that happened from 18 –21 May 2017.
Volunteers learned about structure of a street festival and took part in all different organizational aspects connected with event management, media, communications and public relations, graphical design, digital media, photography and filmmaking, scenography and technical support of cultural events.
By active involvement in different aspects of the festival volunteers developed different competencies and skills that they can use in their future work – digital skills, communication, teamwork, time management and planning, cultural awareness, creativity etc. Check the article with experiences from the project!
YE „Nature is Future“ Veliki Žitnik, 12th to 18th April 2017
In this Youth Exchange 27 participants from five countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Lithuania and Croatia) gathered to learn about the importance of nature preservation and the benefits that activites in the natural environment have on the body and the mind.
The youngsters practiced navigation in nature, collected edible plants and mushrooms, visited the Cave park Grabovača, learned from local people about environmental issues and sustainability in the area.
Through oudoor activities, workshops in nature and a healthy diet the participants developed positive attitudes towards a healthy lifestyle. They were encouraged to develop their self-initiative in order to be able to get active in the local community, recognize the issues in their communities and take steps to make changes that will contribute towards a environmentally conscious and sustainable society.
YE „Stronger for tomorrow“ Veliki Žitnik, 18th to 25th March 2017
Youth Exchange „Stronger for tomorrow“ took place in Veliki Žitnik from 18th to 25th of March 2017 and including 16 youngsters with fewer opportunities from Croatia and Slovenia.
Through experiential learning methods of outdoor adventure education, such as a 3-day-expedition and challenging outdoor activities – rock climbing, abseiling – they learned to take over responsibility for themselves and the group.
The goal of the project was to equip them with important life skills such as team-work, cooperation, communication, leadership, self-confidence, self-esteem, problem solving, managing unknown situations, and language competences using non-formal education in order to enhance their inclusion and active participation in society, to motivate them to participate in further projects in future and to create their own projects.
Preparations for this YE took place through an APV – advanced planning visit with the team leaders and accompanying persons from both teams (Slovenian and Croatian) from 2. – 5. February in Veliki Žitnik.
Uni EVS in Armenia, November 2015 – November 2016
Volunteer Sabina Matišić spent a year on Brusov Yerevan University of Langaige and Social sciences, she was involved in non-formal language lessons, helping the staff of the hosting organization on their positions, helping the students in promoting their social and professional levels, cultural events of the faculty, initiating her own ideas and projects with local youth, After her EVS, enriched with new skills, Sabina fond a job as an English teacher in an international school in China.
Love Every Challenge
Training course “Love Every Challenge!” happened from 8th – 16th of October in Outward Bound Croatia educational centre in Veliki Žitnik, Croatia, gathering 24 participants from 8 countries – Netherlands, Spain, Latvia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Finland and Croatia, twelve of them being with fewer opportunities, like geographical – coming from rural, secluded areas – and economical – being unemployed, from families with low incomes etc. – obstacles. For most of the participants, this wasn’t a first time taking a part in Erasmus+ projects, as most of them are actively working in youth area and regularly participating in different trainings and projects to develop their skills and learn new methods of working with youth. Meantime, for participants from Finland, Portugal and Croatia it was a first time participating in this kind of project, thereby more strongly impacting also their ability to work in international environment and introducing to Erasmus+ opportunities in general.
The age of participants ranged from 21 to 59 years old, bringing together youth workers with wide range of experience, background and skill variety. Due to last minute changes, the number of participants representing each country changed – Latvia, Romania, Finland and Poland were represented by three people from each country, as planned before, while Spain and Croatia had four people per country, due to last minute cancelling from Dutch and Portuguese participants, thereby they were represented by two people per each country.
Main aim of the training was to encourage the use and understanding of Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) in youth work – an experiential method of learning incorporating the use of all senses. Focus of Outdoor Adventure Education is on educational nature of the experiences, close interaction with outdoor environment, elements of real or perceived risk and uncertain outcomes, thereby during the training course, participants experienced skill-building exercises, real-life examples and hands-on activities, like 2-day expedition with rock climbing, caving, orienteering and camping outdoors for one night, followed by trainers’ soft skills development – sessions and practical workshops about facilitation, communication, conflict management, feedback, debriefing, reflection and evaluation – , as they are crucial for integration of the participants’ outdoor experiences into a deeper self-understanding. In one of the days, participants had a chance to organize afternoon session by themselves, showing group management and facilitation skills, as well as sharing their knowledge with others. Session was structured in different workshops, that were led by different facilitators. Workshops involved learning orientation and navigation skills, tying nots, building fireplace and also interactive orientation game with different outdoor tasks and roleplaying.
The result of the project is 24 youth workers enabled to use outdoor adventure education methods in their youth work and nine social projects developed within national teams, addressing a relevant issue in their local community with a use of OAE methods. Projects that were developed are about different topics – healthy food education, pair-mentoring system between outdoor instructors, outdoor playground, buy-nothing day, winter expedition, wilderness therapy, etc. More information about participant’s social projects can be found in project’s blog, that was created as a platform to share learning outcomes between the participants as well as in a bigger scale to anyone interested. As participants from Netherlands live in different areas, they decided to implement their individual projects, thereby the number of projects are even bigger than the countries represented – nine instead of eight. Some of the projects have already finished, while some are planned to be run in long-term.
In the last days of the training, participants also had a partnership building session during which they divided in different teams by topics they are interested at. Project ideas developed were about wilderness therapy, outdoor as a tool, tree house building, healthy lifestyle and nature, and a new training course with outdoor adventure education methods. Newly built partnerships was a first step in reaching one of project’s goals – creating a stronger network and connection between organizations who use Outdoor Adventure Education methods in their youth work in EU.
After the training course, participants also received “OAE toolkit” – a handbook created by the project’s trainers, including more detailed information about Outdoor Adventure Education methods, main working principles, practical tips and examples of activities used in the training. Handbook was also published and is publically available for anyone interested in Salto Youth network as well as in project’s blog. Also, you can:
EVS Camp „Build up“ 14th to 28th August 2016, Veliki Žitnik
The EVS Camp „Build up“ is a short term EVS that took place from the 14th to the 28th of August in Veliki Žitnik. The project gathered 24 volunteers form 8 countries. The goal was to encourage young people to create their own projects, to raise their consciousness about nature protection and team work.
The youngsters shared their local traditions, had several practical workshops and completed something useful and creative for themselves while at the same time doing something beneficiary for the community (cleaning paths and the forest, creating a handbook about the local area:
building objects out of wood (benches, bird houses, a sun dial etc.) along with a line of outdoor activities for improving the physical shape of our volunteers. You can:
Youth Exchange “Creative Tradition” 29th of August to 4th of September 2016, Veliki Žitnik
In the youth exchange called “Creative tradition” 24 participants form four different countries raised their consciousness about culture and developed their intercultural competences. They participated in workshops (local folklore, canoeing, traditional clay handicrafts), interactive presentations and activities where they shared their experiences and knowledge about traditions (traditional sports) and folklore from different countries, Outward Bound team-building-games and experiential learning in nature, as well as a visit to the town of Gospić and the Memorial Center of Nikola Tesla. You can:
EVS Camp “Clean nature, clear mind” 23rd September to 7th October, Samobor
Our short-term EVS camp called “Clean nature, clear mind”, that lasted for two weeks, from the 23rd of September to 7th of October, took place in the town of Samobor and the wonderful environment of the Nature Park Žumberak – Samoborsko gorje. 15 volunteers from four different countries cleaned the water streams and forests from waste, participated in workshops on sustainable waste management and recycling, prepared an art exhibition on the streets of Samobor and learned about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and nature preservation. You can:
Youth exchange “Back to the Roots” 23rd of April to 1st of May 2016, Samobor
24 participants from Czech Republic, Macedonia, United Kingdom and Croatia learned in this project how to actively improve their wellbeing and lifestyle, gained knowledge about using wild herbs and different healing plants and how to be physically active in nature.
Through hiking and bicycle riding in nature etc. the participants connected to nature, gained insight into the benefits of physical activity in everyday life and raised their consciousness about ecological preservation and sustainable behavior. You can find more detailed information about the project if you:
EVS „2020 Vision Europe“ April 2016 to April 2017
4 participants, Anna from Latvia, Dragan from Macedonia, Erwin from France and Živa from Slovenia, have volunteered in our organization for one year, helping out in our office and in the programs we implemented. The goal of the project was to enhance their self-development, increase their employability and improve their career chances, enabling them to participate better in the democratic life of their communities and to successfully compete on the job-market which was achieved during this EVS project. You can check more about the project if you:
EVS in Serbia (2.2.2015. – 27.1.2016.)
Through this long term EVS project “Voluntarism – a link that connects us!” our volunteer from Croatia (Nikolina, 26) volunteered for a year in an NGO in Serbia (from 2.2.2015. – 27.1.2016.). This project gave volunteer the possibility to acquire experience and knowledge about intercultural dialogue, voluntary service, and civil society in general by living and working in Serbia – a country which is in a process of EU integration. Project contributed to building one European identity from grassroots level.
This project reached the aim of intensifying co-operation between youth organizations in Croatia and Serbia.
Volunteer worked closely with local volunteers and contributed to the promotion of volunteering and intercultural work in general. This way volunteer made an impact in the local community. This project also raised the awareness on importance of voluntary work via: intercultural workshops, stimulating members of local partner-organisations to work as volunteers in projects of social importance, contributing to the social and intercultural development of young people.
Simply hosting an international volunteer and working together with her in one team contributed a lot to that process. The organisations involved are planning to continue with similar initiatives in the future. During her voluntary service, volunteer gained many personal, social as well as professional skills. Motivated, inspired and enriched with new skills and competences she easily found a job and went to work in China immediately after her EVS ended. So, this project definitely had a strong positive impact on volunteer as well as on partner organizations involved in the project
EVS in Croatia (1.7.2015. – 26.3.2016.)
Longterm EVS project Outward Bound serving community organized by Outward Bound Croatia (OBC), took place in Zagreb and Veliki Zitnik in Croatia. Four young people from Macedonia, Germany, France and Italy volunteered for 9 months (1.7.2015. – 26.3.2016.) in OBC office in Zagreb and in OBC educational centre in a small villlage Veliki Zitnik during OBC educational programs in nature.
The aim of the project was to help young people improve their personal development, enhance employability and improve career prospects.
During the volunteer service 4 young volunteers were directly involved in the work of OBC, both in the office and outdoors programs. The emphases were learning the importance and benefits of youth work and providing additional sources and new forms of non formal methods. The volunteers took part in our programs and projects as an organizing team, where they acquired team-work skills, managerial and leadership skills. One of the main objects of this project was improvement of the ability to communicate better with the groups from different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds.
During the realization of the projects and international youth exchanges their understanding and responsiveness to social, linguistic and cultural diversity improved. They planned, wrote and design their own project ideas and they showed high level of initiative and creativity. , As their self-confidence was growing up , their public speaking and presentation skills improved. Intercultural environment, created by volunteers coming from different countries, as well as the structure of the program created a basis for a dialogue aimed at promotion of solidarity, mutual respect, social cohesion and tolerance among young people. Volunteers developed and improved a range of skills and competences during their EVS experience – digital competences and media skills, social and civic competences, cultural awareness, communication in foreign languages.
After the EVS, volunteers are encouraged to become active and important contributors in their communities implementing the knowledge and experience gained and promoting the visibility of youth organizations work, Erasmus+ program and EVS to their friends, colleagues and local community.
EVS in Jordan (28.9.2015. – 29.3.2016.)
„Speak up“ is a 6 month EVS project between 2 partners, Croatia and Jordan, that included a volunteer from Croatia that volunteered from 28th September 2015 – 29th march 2016. Volunteer was helping with regular activities in Palestinian refugee camps, organized English lessons and activities for children using non-formal education methods which didn´t only allow the development of children’s English skills but also soft skills like communication, team work etc. Volunteer worked daily hand in hand with local volunteers and community and was able to learn its traditions and culture and later could share his experience back in Croatia with his peers.
Although Europe is becoming increasingly multicultural, people still retain negative stereotypes and prejudices towards other cultures, especially of the Arab world. The portrayal by the media of Middle Eastern countries is often very biased. Therefore, people lack understanding of Arab culture and Islam. This project encouraged dialogue between these two very different cultures. The volunteer was working with the youth for 6 months which allowed gain of trust from local community and prospered and encouraged meaningful intercultural dialogue.
Through this project intercultural dialogue between youth from Croatia and Jordan was developed, as well as cooperation between organizations from Middle East and Europe. Youth mobility in Croatia was enhanced by providing European Voluntary Service in another country. Volunteer practiced foreign languages, developed sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, social and civic competences, volunteers´ cultural awareness and expression raised. Volunteer is using all experiences and developed skills and competences in his life after his EVS.
Youth Exchange “Get Employed” (Samobor, 02.11 – 10.11.2015)
21 young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and Croatia gained a highly valuable experience for their future steps in getting a job. They improved their communication and presentation skills, they learned how to write a CV (and how to make an impressive video CV) and how to act in a job interview. They got inspired by a local entrepreneurs and handicraft companies, the Lush factory and a successfull business woman working in the HR sector. They learnt that with their paint brushes made of skills, knowledge and energy they can make their future full of colours and shiny!
Youth Exchange “Hear our voice: gender equality is the right choice ” (Samobor, 17.10 – 25.10.2015)
Gender equality is a particularly important and tricky issue. 24 participants from Finland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia took a closer look at the situation in their home country and in the world, they raised awareness about gender roles in different periods of human history. They learned more about social inclusion, dignity and tolerance and decided to become advocates for gender equality creating their own promotional videos to support the #heforshe campaign of the UN Women.
Youth Exchange “Protect to Prevent” (Samobor, 28.09 – 06.10.2015)
30 participants from Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Slovakia, Turkey and Croatia discussed about responsible sexual behaviour and sexual trasmitted diseases. They researched on the streets and talked to local people about AIDS, they shared their ideas and experiences and they designed their own projects connected to sexual education in schools, which they might implement in their home countries.
Youth Exchange “Colours of Europe” (Samobor, 19.08 – 28.08.2015)
24 young people from Croatia, Portugal, Moldova and France joined in the effort to promote and strenghten the inclusion of youth with fewer opportunities through millennium photography, acroyoga, capoeira, street art, street performance. The participants discovered Samobor, through a City Bound and treasure hunt, they took part in a encouraging acroyoga session and presented a street performance in Zagreb. With Outward Bound they painted their days with shining colours.
EVS Camp Rust (Veliki Žitnik, 3.08 – 17.08. 2015)
22 volunteers from Finland, Portugal, Latvia, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina lived a real outdoor experience in Veliki Žitnik! They lived in tents, had outdoor showers and cooked on the fire. They cleaned the forest, built a traditional wooden fence, decorated the educational centre. They also pratised hiking, rock climbing, yoga, visiting Nikola Tesla museum and Gospić. And every night they enjoyed the magic of the fire telling stories, sharing thoughts and learning more about the other cultures.
Youth Exchange “Live Healthy, Be Wealthy” (Trenkovo, 06.07 – 15.07.2015)
In Outward Bound we believe that living a healthy lifestyle is a fundamental component to achieve optimal mental and physical well-being and that sport is a tool for social inclusion and tolerance. In this 10 day project the 25 participants from Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic, Finland and Croatia proved the importance of everyday physical activity and balanced diet through outdoor activities, games, workshops, personal projects and discussions. They became promoters of a healthy, wealthy and happy life bringing their energy in the center of Pozega, where they had a flash mob, a very powerful “hymn to the healthy living”.
Long-term EVS in Outward Bound (1.12.2014. – 31.5.2015.)
Long term EVS project “Outward Bound volunteer project” organized by Outward Bound Croatia, took place in Croatia from 1st December 2014 to 31st May 2015. Three young people sent by partner organizations from Finland (Allianssi Youth Exchanges), France (Association CALLIOPE) and Portugal (Agoraveiro) volunteered for 6 months in Croatia.
During their EVS experience they improved and developed a range of skills and competences that they are using in their work, career and personal life. Their employability skills raised as well as a range of their personal skills.
They developed and improved:
their digital competences as they were helping in the OBC office, helping with the tasks regarding the multimedia, promotion and public relations, preparation and writing of the projects for children and youth;
their communication in foreign languages as they used English in their everyday communication but also had Croatian lessons and thought each others their languages;
their communication, presentation and team-work skills, self-confidence and sense of initiative and expression, their organizational and leadership skills, as during the implementation of projects for youth, they were included as a part of the organizing team, taking some responsibility for the practical aspects of project management, evaluation and monitoring, as well as for presenting the projects through media and social networks, finding creative ideas to promote projects and disseminate results and visibility of our organizations work, Erasmus + programme and EVS.
They learned to overcome the prejudices and explore the ways of effective and supporting interpersonal communication and their social and civic competences improved, as they worked closely with other young people with different social, cultural and personal backgrounds.
Their cultural awareness increased, as they lived, volunteered and were involved in many different ways in the local community, so they had a lot of intercultural learning, reflecting on different cultural traditions and behaviours becoming aware of differences and similarities.
Also, as they learned and practiced the Outward Bound methods and were included in Outward Bound experiential learning programs in nature, their awareness about healthy behaviours, importance of sports and outdoor activities developed.
EVS volunteers in this project had a chance to experience the whole process of development and implementation of programs and projects for children and youth.
Training course “Inform and be Informed” (Rizvanuša, 20.04 – 29.04.2015)
9 day project of mobility of youth workers that gathered 20 participants – trainers and youth workers from Turkey, Malta, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Portugal and Croatia. Through a range of non-formal educational activities – sharing sessions, discussion groups, interactive presentations and practical workshops, the participants improved their knowledge about EU opportunities for youth, Erasmus+ programme, situation and facts, problems and solutions regarding rural youth in different countries from different areas of Europe, enriching their work with youth.
Balkan Youth Exchange (Samobor, 6.3 – 16.3.2015)
30 participants from 6 countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovakia and UK). The main aim was to promote dialogue among youth with different religions and to prepare youth leaders to deal with religious issues. Through videos, flash-mobs, and speaking with religious leaders from the community, the group discussed tolerance and peace.
Empowering Youth for Better Future (Samobor 20.2 – 27.2.2015)
21 participants from 7 European youth organizations (Serbia, Romania, Turkey, UK, Georgia, Czech Republic and Croatia) worked together to build capacity of their trainers through networking and exchange of knowledge and methodology.
EVS for 2 youth from Kosovo in Outward Bound Croatia (1.10. – 29.11.2014.)
Longterm EVS project “Spin the wheel” organized by Outward Bound Croatia, took place in Zagreb, from 1 st October to 29th November 2014. Two young people from Kosovo, from a sending partner organization, Balkan Sunflowers volunteered for 2 months in Zagreb.
The objective was to empower young people facing different difficulties in their country – social, geographical, economic and educational difficulties.
Volunteers were helping with the work in office, helping with the tasks regarding the multimedia, promotion and public relations, office maintenance, preparation and writing of the projects for children and youth. During the implementation of the projects for youth, they were included as a part of the organizing team, taking some responsibility for the practical aspects of project management, evaluation and monitoring, as well as for presenting the projects through media and social networks, finding creative ideas to promote projects and disseminate results and visibility of the organizations work, Erasmus + programme and EVS.
Volunteers helped on Outward Bound educational outdoor programs in nature, working closely with other young people with different social, cultural and personal backgrounds.
They integrated in the local community, socializing, participating different activities and events, learning and practicing new languages.
Volunteers developed and improved a range of skills and competences during their EVS experience – digital, social and civic, foreign languages and intercultural learning and also their cultural awareness developed and their attitudes toward healthy lifestyles and outdoor activities developed.
On the arrival back home in their country volunteers are using their EVS experience in their youthwork, career and personal life.
Training Course “Training with thought” (6.10 – 16.10.2014)
The training course “Training with thought”, took place on the Adriatic coast, in a small place Sv. Filip Jakov in Croatia. 20 participants from Finland, Estonia, Italy, Croatia and Portugal participated a basic trainer skills training – theory and practice, presentations, lectures, workshops, discussions, creating their own projects, creating a handbook, followed by outdoor challenges and kayaking expedition and 10 days of sun and the sea!
Youth Exchange “Protect and Act” (17.09 – 26.09.2014)
Youth exchange “Protect and Act”, took place in the capital city of Zagreb in Croatia. 25 participants from Finland, Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia and Greece learned about nature protection, sustainable transport, they practiced slackline, acrobalance, yoga, went cycling, hiking, birdwatching, visited protected areas in the city of Zagreb. Inspired by this project, participants are now implementing their own projects in their countries!
Youth Exchange “Reach out for the future” (3.09- 13.09.2014)
Youth exchange “Reach out for the future” took place in the rural region of Lika in Croatia, in a small village Rizvanuša. 25 participants from Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Croatia spent 10 days together in the beautiful area of a nature park “Velebit”, meeting the local customs and local people, helping the local community, meeting the challenges of the Outward Bound expedition, rock climbing, abseiling, orienteering. Participants had a chance to juggle, slackline, attend different workshops, they were creative and active, making big steps towards their successful future!
Training Course “Outward Bound Water Training of Trainers ” (4.10 – 14.10.2013 )
The training course “Outward Bound Water Training of Trainers” took place in Croatia, on the Island of Rab and the neighbouring islands – Goli Otok, Prvić, Sv. Grgur, Cres and Krk. 21 participants from Portugal, Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Croatia learned how to use experiential education through sport and outdoor activities as a tool of self-development and team-building. Young people, youth workers participating in the training course improved their technical and facilitation skills through outdoor activities based on the principles of Outward Bound, as well as their skills in the specified activities on the water – sailing, kayaking, diving.
Youth Exchange “Inside Out” (25.09-6.10.2012)
“A healthy outside comes from the inside, and a healthy inside comes from outdoors” was the motto of this youth exchange in which 25 young people from Romania, Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Croatia developed their inner competencies through outdoor activities on Velebit Mountain and the Island of Rab. The participants exchanged their personal experiences of healthy lifestyle practices, as well as the traditional sports of their countries or regions and were encouraged to become active participants, transferring the good practices in their daily life and in their communities.
As part of the strategic EVS project „EVS for all“ we’re currently hosting Luca from Italy and Olivera from Macedonia for their volunteering service from 2.5.2018 to 2.5.2019. As part of the longterm Erasmus+ volunteering project „Embrace the challenge – make a change“ we’re hosting Gintarė from Lithuania, Lubomira and Mojmir from Slovakia, Margarita from Spain and Anna from Poland from 15.1.2019 until 15.11.2019.
I‘m Gintarė, orginally from a town Lentvaris, Lithuania. I‘m a graduate of visual communication, been working in a library, youth council and animal wellfare center, also have been studying cynology and canitheraphy.
I love observing and spending time in nature, I‘m passionated about art, philosophy, psychology, theology and esoteric sciences. The inner urge for a deeper meaning and purpose in life has led me to several volunteering experiences in life, I have been part of volunteering programs in youth centers, NGO‘s and NPO‘s in Lithuania and decided to dive in deeper to expand the experience, therefore my wish of learning and experiencing has led me here to the Outward Bound Croatia.
Hi! I’m Julia. I’m 23 and I come from Salamanca, Spain.
I used to study physics but some months ago I started working in a veterinary clinic, as a part of my studies for being a veterinary assistant. When my practice period ended, I realised I wanted to do something worthwhile before I started looking for a job and settle down – that’s when I decided I wanted to volunteer for a year.
Outward Bound Croatia seemed like the perfect place to do so. I was so happy when I was chosen to be part of this project! And from what I’ve seen, I already love it.
Marhba, I am Mohamed. I am 25 and come from the town of Tanta in Egypt.
I graduated in Civil Engineering and worked for two years as a site construction engineer. At the same time, I have been volunteering in many organizations in Egypt since 2015.
EVS for me is a learning opportunity and it is a great way of spreading my wings, exploring new things, seeing new cultures, and meeting new people. Also, I am a nature lover and I believe Croatia is the destination to discover it.
Hi, I am Mojo from Dolný Kubín – a town in the north of Slovakia. I studied mathematics and worked as mathematician and programmer for a few years, but my inner calling told me that it is time to move on. So, I am here in Croatia.
I’ve volunteered in a NGO focused on non-formal education back in Slovakia, so the EVS in OBC was too seductive and I couldn’t resist.
I like basketball, hiking, cooking, books and good company.
I’m Anna, originally from Katowice in Poland. I have already tried a few paths in my life but the one I stayed on for the longest time was being a photographer and a curious being, digging into many different subjects along the way.
Apart from photography I studied art, philosophy and Czech language, I’ve lived in Krakow, Lille, Prague, a little island called Jersey in the UK and Mammoth Lakes in California. I have never been to any Balkan country before, so I figured that the best way to explore the area is to move here. I’m into climbing, hiking and mountaineering, and doing my EVS at OBC seemed like a good opportunity to work with people who like to have fun outdoors and see it as one of the ways to personal growth as well. I like American literature, and I’m also a big fan of Jim Jarmusch and Bill Murray.
My name is Lubomira but you can call me Lubka. I am a 28 year old Slovak woman from a historical city called Banska Bystrica. I love living actively, trying new things and having new experiences. I really like spending time outside and particularly travelling. This is my biggest joy.
The reason why I decided to spend my next 10 months in Croatia is the topic of this project. Helping with the organisation of non-formal and experiential learning activities sounds like a dream job to me, especially because I graduated in event-management. New skills, personal development and also getting to know a new country, having new experiences and meeting new people are only some of the positive aspects why i decided to come here. I can’t wait for the next days.
„Trees“ – a 12-month project in Slovakia
In March this year, our volunteer Eva has started a one-year EVS project called “Trees” in Prenčov, a village in central, rural Slovakia. The project is organized by Art Kruh and includes a permacultural program which is why the activities are diverse, depending on the seasons and weather conditions.
In early spring volunteers have been focused on preparing the soil for seeding, making new seedbeds, and putting little seeds in pots. They’ve observed the plants grow and cared for and watered them. The volunteers were also active in the local school and the community center of the village, where they thought English to youngsters and adults using non-formal methods like theatre, visual arts and music.
During summer, volunteers are busy with keeping their garden beautiful and alive, harvesting the fruits of their work, namely tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers, and preparing a Training course and a Youth Exchange together with the staff of their hosting organization.
Even though the venue of the project is a small village, the project is packed with activities and community life. A big emphasis is given to the Dragon Dreaming methodology which serves to enhance community life. Eva is thrilled by the project and says she is learning a lot with every new day.
Volunteers’ experiences from EVS projects
“Be the change you want to see in the world…” – is a famous statement of Mahatma Gandhi which also serves as the motto I am trying to implement in my everyday life. The project I was part of happened to have the same name, which made me even happier about my decision.
What made me go on EVS?
My EVS adventure started in September 2015, when I arrived in Northern Ireland, Belfast. One of the reasons why I found Northern Ireland so appealing was the openness for which the Irish are well known for, and the English language that I want to practice. Although when it comes to the language – due to the fast pace, Irish accent and slang in use, my first days here felt as if there wasn’t anything to improve nor practice – I simply understood nothing. However, after a month, the language wasn’t an issue anymore.
The second reason is the WIMPS project(„Where Is My Public Servant“) which is implemented by Public Achievement, the organization that I volunteer in. We provide workshops to teach young people about journalism and politics and develop their skills of interviewing, managing video technology, managing social networks and campaigning. We also want to develop the youngsters’ civic skills by visiting political institutions and meeting politicians.
Find out what you love – and do it
Aside from a wide range of small tasks, my permanent activities included organizing regular meetings, managing social media content and posting articles online. The week before I arrived in Belfast, Public Achievement had started with two new pilot projects: LEAD („Learn, Enjoy And Do“) and „Be the Change“. These projects are created for NEET youngster aged 18 to 24 to find out about their personal interests and professional goals.
Working with youngsters was satisfying because every day I’d watch them finding out something new about themselves, their talents and what they really wanted to do in their lives.
Nikolina, 26, from Croatia, took part in a one-year-long EVS in the Volunteering Centre of Vojvodina in Serbia as part of the project “Voluntarism – a link that connects us!”.
Nikolina worked closely with local volunteers and contributed to the promotion of volunteering and intercultural work in general since the project aimed to raise awareness on the importance of voluntary work in projects of social importance via intercultural workshops. That way, Nikolina and the Volunteering center contributed to the social and intercultural development of the local youth. “In VCV, we always react to the events in the world and we give our best to send out our peace messages along with raising consciousness about the benefits of volunteerism for both community and individuals.” – says Nikolina.
Growth and development of organizations and volunteers
Nikolina got the possibility to learn about intercultural dialogue, volunteering, and the civil society in general by living and working in Serbia – a country that is in the middle of the process of EU integration. The project contributed to building a European identity in the local community of Novi Sad from the grass-root level.
During Nikolina’s EVS, the hosting organization underwent some major changes – it shifted from volunteerism in general to volunteerism in two specialized areas: climate change and peace-making. “It was interesting to witness and to contribute to that shift. It will, for sure, be of value to me in the future.” – says Nikolina.
Nikolina states that she gained many personal, social and professional skills through her EVS. Motivated, inspired and enriched with new skills and competencies she easily found a job abroad in China immediately after her EVS ended.
During two weeks in May 2017, 10 motivated volunteers from Serbia, Slovenia and France transformed the nice and peaceful Croatian city of Samobor into a real circus – an art paradise full of adventures, challenges and smiles.
Our main task during the festival was to help the local community and the organizers of the festival to paint and decorate the city and thereby contribute in the creation of a colourful 3-day circus and street-art festival.
Photographing, recording, drawing, making stencils, creating a welcoming atmosphere for the artists, living and working in a community, solving practical problems, and just being part of this experience where all my passions unite – gave me a better understanding of my own self and that’s what I enjoyed so much.
Although our volunteer team consisted of strangers at the beginning, every individual complemented each other in a unique way. It was easy to find common interests which connected us all, opened our hearts and minds for sharing, understanding, seeing and loving our world as a bigger version of the festival. During the EVS we improved ourselves and our self- esteem by unlocking our potential.
The fruits of our volunteering
For me this volunteering experience was all about overcoming cultural and social differences, embracing different abilities and skills so I could learn to work as a part of a responsible and reasonable team, which created a good working plan, fulfilled tasks and successfully carried out the plan of the festival.
This experience made me feel very useful and happy about the meaningful time spent there. Cu’fus gave me a wonderful life experience which I will gladly remember with happiness and gratitude. It opened my eyes to fall in love with my own Slovenian culture once again – the city where I live, our food, music, slang, environment and people that support me on my path.
During my stay I became a new person with the contribution of every individual that I met. I can say this was the best experience of volunteering until now – it brought a lot of love and happiness in my life which I’m grateful to take back home with me.
Check out our video from the festival!
3 volunteers, 2 months, 1 project.
Ana, Marina, and Lucija spent 2 months volunteering in a Latvian organization called “Radi Vidi Pats” as part of the EVS project „No bikes, no party“.
I didn’t really know much about Liepaja at that point I applied to the project, except that it had a beach. I was really unsure of how I would contribute to the project and what my role would be. I didn’t think there was anything relevant I could “teach” people since I had never organized workshops of any kind before, but it all fell into place very quickly once the project started.
the sea was wild and lacked salt, and the way they make coffee is absolutely abhorrent.
Even if I’d want to – there weren’t many reasons to complain apart from that. When the project started, we chose topics to cover that we were comfortable with. We organized some travel-related workshops, got to explore the city and meet a bunch of friendly and supportive people from all over the world: Japan, Australia, Mexico, China, Canada…
In my opinion, EVS is a great opportunity to travel, explore new cultures and meet fantastic people – providing you all along with a deeper understanding of yourself. And the cool thing is, anyone can do it: no experience or money is needed.
I just don’t like to live in the future, when I can live in the moment. I didn’t think much about my upcoming EVS until it really started happening.
During the first few days, the air was filled with skepticism and I even wanted to go back home before any kind of contract had been signed. After a week of our stay, I had gotten used to leading the workshops I had – mostly teaching things that I loved, therefore I was never tired of it.
Apart from giving workshops and taking care of the center and travelers, we participated in night bike rides around Liepaja, made documentary evenings, LGBT related events, helped at the bike workshop and a youth festival, made a charity event for a local dog shelter and loads more.
I learned plenty of tips and tricks from other travelers and volunteers. Along with developing foreign language skills, travel and interpretative dance skills, I learned how to drum some basic rhythms, juggle with flower sticks, advertise efficiently with guerrilla marketing, some new recipes, some useful things about bikes and acro-yoga. We explored the area and its surroundings but also got a chance to travel to Estonia and Finland, which all in all was a huge and amazing experience.
The more I stayed, the more I liked it. It has certainly been an awesome experience out of which I’m going out a bit more knowledgeable, a bit more skilled, with a few more friends and dear people that warm my heart and eager anticipation of another EVS project in the future. Most importantly I learned a lot about myself.
„Where the hell is Latvia, what are you talking about, How…? When…? Why…? What…?” – So, that was my mom’s reaction after hearing that I would be volunteering in another country for 2 months. Apart from her, other people who didn’t even know where Latvia was also willingly shared their comments on how someone will take out my organs, or send me to slavery, oh and also that there’s a high chance of war there…
So all my inner fears and insecurities about what everything was going to be like, the country, the organization, the people around me, and the work that we would do – all of that collided with other people’s fears I had to encounter before the trip. I didn’t listen to them and since I wanted to break free from my life in Zagreb – the decision to participate in this project was the right one to make.
During the EVS, I made new friends, met a lot of people from different countries and cultures who just wanted to travel. Every day I was reminding myself to enjoy every moment because that – right there, right then – was an unforgettable experience and even if everything became usual after some time, it wasn’t.
This experience really opened my eyes, eyes to a world that I didn’t even know existed. When you live in a small country, small town, always surrounded by the same people it doesn’t even cross your mind that there are hundreds of people traveling the world with no more money in their pockets than you have in yours right now. All you need is just the courage to get out there.
„Why Armenia? “ – one of the most frequently asked questions I hear. I usually answer that it’s not me who chose Armenia, but the country that chose me.
Underneath the cliché answer to a cliché question lays the search for adventure and a wish to experience a different culture that led me to apply for this 1-year EVS project at Brusov University of Language and Social Studies. Before applying for the project, I knew very few things about the country where I’m going to spend the following year. My Caucasus adventure started without any expectations – I wanted to be surprised, and I was!
We eat lavash, we play lavash
Our daily bread here consisted of language courses, intercultural presentations, workshops, and personal projects, but along with that, we got the opportunity to present the EVS program outside the university. We visited local schools in other provinces and met many curious teenagers, presented our university at various events, organized social activities for youth, got to know the work of other organizations in Armenia through all of that learned more about ourselves.
The on-arrival training for EVS volunteers, which is obligatory for all volunteers on a long-term service, is organized to help and support them from the beginning of their volunteering period.
Mine was held in Kobuleti on the Black Sea coast. The training brought together volunteers from different countries to introduce the social and cultural context of the Caucasus. In a non-formal atmosphere, we had an intense training course where each of us set up and developed our learning objectives for the volunteering period.
The Armenian world
During the first months, the Armenian world revealed itself through various cultural events and traditional celebrations and my daily life here got infused by new experiences and findings. Personally – one of the most interesting local discoveries was the “marshrutka” – the minibus public transport, which does not surrender to the laws of physics regarding space – no matter how many people are already in, there is always space for another passenger – therefore I found the rides to be a mixture of surprising amusement and a great test of endurance.
Many examples have claimed that EVS is inseparable from traveling I can only agree. During my stay here I visited historical sanctuaries, enchanting landscapes and the most famous tourist destinations in Armenia. Even during the wintertime, the heavy snow cover could not break my spirit and stop me from exploring the surrounding area.
Friendships and goodbyes
During the EVS you meet people with whom you connect quickly by sharing common experiences on an everyday basis. We joined our knowledge, skills, and spirits just as in the preparation of lavash, and started various projects. One of them was the living Human Library, through which we exchanged our experiences and impressions, and which resulted in some valuable friendships inside and outside the EVS community.
And if I have to share what the most difficult part of my EVS was, no doubt that it would be the frequent farewell parties to mark someone’s departure. There was an air of excitement and a feeling of sadness so typical for the occasions of saying goodbye to wonderful people. However, looking back and reflecting on the journeys we’ve shared I feel quite happy. As a famous teddy bear named Winnie-the-Pooh, once said: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.
Experiences from Nikola from Croatia who took part in the 9-month EVS project “Say social entrepreneurship” in Bitola.
Even though the common perspective of an EVS experience is that of traveling, experiencing different cultures, and immersing yourself in a new way of life, it is even more than that. Macedonian culture is not too different from Croatian culture, which is why adapting to it has been a breeze. What this EVS really offered me was a chance for self-improvement, personal growth, and introspection.
The office life
My daily office work consisted of many different things, such as editing and translating texts, creating newsletters and designing flyers, which was a useful addition to my skills and something that will help me in the future when it comes to entrepreneurial activities. I discovered a design program called Canva and learned how to use it to contribute to the promotion of a project or product.
Personal projects and learning opportunities
While EVS volunteers usually receive lessons in the hosting country’s official language, I did not require them, so the organization was kind enough to provide me with Greek lessons. This enabled me to add another writing and language to my repertoire of language skills.
I also had the opportunity to use my French language skills in a personal project – I decided to start a summer language course where the locals could come and learn the basics of French for free. Teaching a language I had never taught before and presenting it in Macedonian, with a lack of proper school materials such as textbooks, proved to be a challenge. Knowing that I have overcome it and passed my knowledge on to members of the community makes me feel proud and enriched.
My EVS project was all about turning ideas into reality. That is why I also organized and held workshops about the process of turning an idea into a project or product. In the workshops, I guided the participants through all the steps of brainstorming, research, and realization. T
The other side of the coin
Since EVS is not only about work, I had the opportunity to travel the country and abroad, and witness the natural beauties of Macedonia that often get ignored in favor of cities. Climbing Mt. Pelister was an amazing adventure. I also enjoyed the nightlife and cultural events in Bitola – for a town of that size, Bitola has an impressive cultural life.
Go for it!
No matter where you go, from huge metropolises to remote villages, participating in an EVS project will enrich you for life, both professionally and personally. No matter if your experience is easy or challenging, you will come home a different person, and happier because of it.
“I’m happy because of projects ‘Colors of Europe’ and ‘Move your EU world’, 2 of the French participants are now willing to create their own project. I feel the power of the Erasmus+ programme by looking at these girls who dropped school and had no idea what to do with their lives a few months ago.”
Mathilda Olive – Centre of Youth and Sport of Corsica CSJC, France
“I learned to make compromises with different personalities, that every person on earth is beautiful and that we shouldn’t judge anyone.”
Participant of the the youth exchange
“We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for organising 8-day youth course “GET EMPLOYED”. Two users of our instituion, i.e. the Centre for the provision of services in the community Lipik, had participated in this course. The initial fear that they had, considering that English was the language of communication among participants, quickly passed and our users took only good memories and new life skills from Samobor. They sad they were really happy with their stay in Samobor because they learned a lot, had fun, made new friends and, most importantly, gained new experience. Since they live in an institution they were not familiar with a lot of things, such as ways of spending free time, dealing with money, exploring the city and orientation, teamwork and establishing communication with people they just met. They shared thier experience with other users of our institution and encouraged them to apply for participation in these types of programs.”
Goran Nikles, principle of the Centre for the provision of services in the community Lipik
“I learned many useful things about myself, how to work in a team, to accept others with their difference. Also, I learned about the life and problems of other countries.”
Participant of the the youth exchange
“I learned about tolerance, respect towards different opinions and to be more open minded.”
Participant of the the youth exchange