EVS Project Making – when Europe comes to Pesaro!

As some of you may already know, the Erasmus+ programme promotes international training courses in partnership with international NGOs, where participants from different countries are invited to go abroad and gather together for 8 – 10 days. During this period the participants learn about a certain topic and improve their skills and competences through a non-formal education approach. Last week, thanks to the support of the Italian National Agency ANG that financed the project,  the training course “EVS Project Making” took place in Pesaro, the topic discussed where how to plan and write a quality EVS project, and the promoting association was our own – Vicolocorto! We spoke to a couple of participants about their experience and general impressions of this week.

Gloria is Romanian and currently working for YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) as the vice-president at a regional level. When she first heard that her association had two vacancies for this training she instantly wanted to go since Italy has always been her dream country. Nevertheless, once she actually had the time to read through the training description she was even more excited. That is because one day she’d like to have her own NGO so the knowledge acquired at the training could be extremely useful for her. As if it wasn’t enough of a good experience already, by the end of the week Gloria was offered the opportunity to participate in a 10 month EVS project with the Red Cross in Pesaro, starting this December! Hurray!

Florentina is from Romania and she works for Wild Carpathia association. The organization hosts and coordinates EVS volunteers and Florentina is their tutor and mentor. Since she joined the association only this year, it is her first training related to project making. Nevertheless, for Florentina this was a useful experience, she particularly enjoyed the guideline teamwork, as well as sharing experiences with other participants. She also appreciated the final task, which was to create a plan for an EVS project, because she could finally work on her idea for a project focused on relationships between generations in Romania.

Joaquin is from Extremadura, a region located in the west of Spain. He is currently working as a project manager in an NGO, and soon he will start to work as an assistant manager in Portugal. He has decided to come to this training in order to learn how to write EVS/European Solidarity Corps projects and to develop some tools and ideas for future projects in his own organization. Of all the things he has learned here, Joaquin values understanding the context you are living in the most. In his case, the region is not very famous and they don’t have a lot of people working with Erasmus+ programme, so he would like to improve the situation and offer local people more opportunities.

Erell represents Association Gwennili, a sending and hosting association located in Brittany (the West part of France). Currently she is in charge of the coordination of the common activities of the volunteers. In 2013 she participated in an EVS project in Georgia. After she came back to France, she got an offer from her sending organization to participate in a civil service, which meant working part-time in the organization. One of the most important things Erell learned during this training is how to change plans in order to keep up with the ideas you have in mind. In other words: how to be flexible. As there are some changes and unsure aspects within the EVS, the participants, coming from different countries, had to talk about the way they deal with such transformations and share their points of view.

The participants of this training are of different age, come from different countries and cultures, and have different jobs and life experiences. However, all of them were interested in the same thing: acquiring the know-how. For this reason,  Erasmus+ trainings are not only a big opportunity to learn in a non-formal way, but, more importantly, to enjoy an international experience.

 

Demi, Filipa, Isabel & Karolina

 

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Back to school! Linguistic support by EVS volunteers

As volunteers at Vicolocorto, one of our tasks is to promote the learning of foreign languages and, more specifically, English as a lingua franca. For this purpose, one of the main activities we are currently undertaking is the linguistic support at schools. We assist in some English classes with kids aged between 12 and 18 where we talk to them, present our countries, talk about cultural similarities and differences, etc.

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So far, during the last two weeks we have been in two schools of Pesaro, the Istituto Comprensivo G. Gaudiano and the Istituto di Istruzione Superiore F. Mengaroni. The school year has only begun so we will be giving much more presentations. In the first Istituto, we presented ourselves and we talked about why we decided to do the EVS. We also talked about the differences between our countries and Italy (e.g. at what time we have lunch and dinner, how does the life of a teenager look like, what are the differences between educational systems), about the city of Pesaro and the surroundings, and about the European Voluntary Service. At the second Istituto we prepared some presentations: the first about Portugal, its customs, food, etc. The second presentation was about the novel Don Quixote, written by a Spanish writer. Then it was the turn of The Netherlands, where we talked about Sinterklaas, their Christmas festivity. Finally, the last presentation was about Poland, also about its customs, cities, food and traditions.

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It was very gratifying to see how kids paid attention to our stories and learnt from the different cultures that we brought them. They were a little bit shy at the beginning, but soon they started to ask some questions and to talk with us. It is also gratifying to see that, at the same time, they were learning English in a very dynamic and entertaining way, without even being conscious that they were learning. But, furthermore, not only did the children learn from this, we ourselves learned from each other. This is, from my point of view, the best thing about EVS: the opportunity to learn from other’s experiences and lives.

Isabel

Sono qui!

 

This is me, Filipa. I’m 28 years old and I’m from Portugal. Olá!

This is me, Karolina. I’m 22 years old and I’m from Poland. Cześć!

(…while having our first lunch break in a random cafe by the sea)

Filipa: It all started at Bologna’s central station at a non-existent “Mc Donald’s meeting-point” on a sunny Friday in the beginning of October. You had been there for a day, I had just arrived.

Karolina: After a long wait in the queue we managed to get our tickets to Pesaro. Thankfully, the attendant spoke English since we spoke no Italian. We still don’t. But we will get there. Remember all the people on the train?

F: Now that you mention it, yeah! Me with my two huge bags, you with your tiny rolling suitcase.

K: First of all, it was not that tiny. Secondly, I also had a hand bag and a backpack.

F: Either way. I remember the train being super busy and all my big bags and your tiny rolling suitcase plus hand bag plus backpack being in everyone’s way. So. How were you feeling back then?

K: I remember being anxious before departing, but I guess it was just the reisefieber.

F: Er… the reise-who?

K: It’s a German word. We don’t have it in Polish. But it means, like… when you are excited but stressed at the same time. Like a “travel fever”. Do you have that word in Portuguese?

F: Oh, fancy. Ok. Well, I had no such fever. And I don’t think we have any word for that in Portuguese.

K: What about you? How did you feel?

F: I remember just the excitement part. I don’t think I was stressed or anxious. I was just a little bummed that they hadn’t served any food on the plane. Thankfully, I had just arrived to the land of food! I remember us sitting in the train trying to get to know each other, speaking about what brought us here – what was it that you said about your two versions for explaining to people why you chose EVS?

K: I just finished my Bachelor’s degree and decided to take a gap year, but there are two “versions” of the reason why I did that. The official one says that the Master’s program I want to do is not open until next year so the gap year is kind of forced on me. But to be frank, I’m not 100% sure which one I want to apply for. Anyway, you said that you quit your job recently so that you could do an EVS, right?

F: Well, I did quit my job three weeks ago. Not specifically to do an EVS but because I had been working in the same company for five years and I wasn’t feeling challenged nor motivated anymore. I decided to quit and take a break from adult-life, to refocus and restore energies! Also, learning a new language is a big pro since I’ve been working in the tourism field and will probably continue doing so once I go back home. Can you still remember what were your first impressions of Italy?

C: I’ve been in Italy before so I had an idea of what to expect, but these were holiday trips, which is totally different from living in the country for six months. What I find difficult to adapt to are the working hours. In Poland we work continuously, we don’t have such a big break that allows you to go back home for lunch. Have you experienced some cultural differences as well?

F: Like you said, I’ve been to Italy before too and coming from a Latin country I believe we share some of the fundamental culture characteristics. There are, however, a few things that bug me, like the fact that everyone is so obsessed with relationships and weather you are or you are not dating someone. But I think what bothers me the most in Pesaro is the lack of public transportation, especially at night. I’m trying to look at it as an opportunity though, to improve my biking skills and getting fit! You know, after all the cheese and pasta we’ve been eating… a little calorie burn doesn’t hurt!

K: Sure…as they say, every cloud has a silver lining!

(the waiter came with our daily dose of carbs and we sat there, eating silently)

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Filipa and Karolina