The 14 young people from Italy (Marta Nenna, Giulio Presti), Spain (Jose Maria Tabares Pagola, Isabel Ocana Nunez, Isabel Hernaez), Portugal (Fabio Rodrigues, Mara Marques), Netherlands (Marloes Verdel, Michiel Hindriks), Austria (Christina Ott, Lorenz Fehrer), Macedonia (Hristina Najdovska), United Kingdom (Daniel Appleton, Daniel Watkins) ended their voluntary service for 2 months after they had a summer full of activities in the EVS Project “Discover-Connect-Change” funded by the European Union through Erasmus Plus Program.
“Through this project we wanted to improve the skills of young people for their participation in democratic life in Europe and the labor market, promote active citizenship, intercultural dialogue, inclusion, solidarity, creating an international youthwork , raising awareness of linguistic diversity and interculturalism. Promoting social inclusion of children and young people with fewer opportunities, a healthy lifestyle through both sport and outdoor, and by fostering active participation of young people in society, developing digital literacy and language skills of young people, promoting non formal education, were our main priorities “- Andreea Lazar, project coordinator
Throughout the EVS service 14 foreign volunteers with 10 Romanian volunteers had the following activities:
– participated in training courses organized by YMCA Romania and the National Agency , with the themes: history, structure and activities of the host organization, strengthening team (roles, communication, responsibility, attitude, cooperation), methods formal, European Voluntary Service, AXA Insurance, Youthpass, interculturalism, media, etc;
-plan, implement and evaluate educational activities for three summer camps with different themes: in Baia Mare “Personal development and healthy lifestyle”, Copalnic Manastur “Communication and interculturalism” Suciu de Jos: “Equality and diversity”, creating three media products related to these camps, the beneficiaries being 160 children aged 5-17;
– 3 Human/Living library events organized in Baia Mare (in partnership with the Village Museum in Baia Mare), Copalnic Manastur and Suciu de Jos (in partnership with cultural centers in these villages), beneficiaries being 190 children, youth and adults from these communities. One by one the volunteers were living books, librarians, living dictionaries, readers, developing a dialogue and their story;
-1 Public cafe-type event in Baia Mare, unusual and interesting topics allowing young people to know and understand the realities of each country, being a great way to share experiences,express opinions, learn from each other, inspire and to be inspired and motivated to do anything in our communities. the topics raised were: parenthood, public relations and social media, legal or illegal substance abuse, environmental protection, international volunteer opportunities, sexual education – the beneficiaries being 30 young people ;
– made an intercultural visit in Maramures region , understanding better the region, the rural part of our county, tradition, history, people, food : Merry cemetery in Sapanta, The Museum in Sighet ( ex comunist prison) , Barsana Monastery.
– participated in Romanian classes, had mentorship, travelled and discovered Romania.
Discover-Connect-Change project is a transformational project for everyone involved, the values transmitted-care, respect, honesty, responsibility, trust, equality, diversity, cooperation- children, youth, teachers, parents who participated in camps in Baia Mare, Copalnic Manastur and Suciu de Jos, at public events Living Library and World Cafe, the 24 EVSers and Romanians have created an educational framework based on exchange of information, methods, ideas, activities, projects, intercultural, generating unique life experiences, transforming behaviors, attitudes, actions, target groups and communities “- Alina Pop, executive director.”
“I think the summer camps have had a major impact on children, especially for those in rural areas. Children in Copalnic Manastur and Suciu de Jos were from different backgrounds, different ethnical groups, different social and economic situations but in these camps they were every day together. Kids who normally would not play with each , they did it now, understanding that no matter how they look or where they come from, what their family situation is, they all are equal. I hope they will not forget this and will not judge based on prejudices and stereotypes. Whole communities were very interested in what we did and how we worked “- Marloes Verdel, EVS volunteer from the Netherlands.
“The impact of this project has been fantastic. I did not expect to find Romanian children so open, so willing to learn other languages. I was impressed by how much they communicate in English and Spanish. I would very much like this to be also in Spain. I believe that our work in these camps was very good and they were very impressed and thanked us in the end; they could not understand how so many young people from across Europe came for them to create educational activities during the summer. I’ll never forget their faces filled with joy during our camps “- Jose Maria Tabares Pagola, EVS volunteer from Spain.
“I think that me volunteering in Romania has had a big impact on some of the communities that we worked within, on the third camp that we completed (the last camp) when we were leaving on the Friday some of the children started to cry which was quite touching. I think that they really liked how they live in an extremely small village in rural Romania and they do not get many outsiders coming into there community but I think it is the first time that they have had so many people come from different countries as in total there is 14 of us from 7 different countries. I think that they have learnt to live healthier lifestyles and in rural areas there is a hatred from Romanians towards Roma gypsies, I believe that them seeing all 14 of us from 7 completely different cultures being friends and working well as a team may inspire them to integrate with people that are different to them.” – Daniel Watkins, EVS volunteer from United Kingdom.
“I have done a lot of voluntary work in different countries with different organisations, but this is the first time that the organisation and the people for whom I worked cared also that I feel well and that they can learn also a lot from me. In other voluntary work there was no time for this. It was just working for the organisation. So I enjoy really the time in Romania. I like also the work in the camps. In my opinion I learned how important is by planing camps with children, how to work with children and manage difficult situations.” – Christina Ott, EVS volunteer from Austria
“The most important thing about my EVS is that it helped me to grow as a person in many areas and to get to know myself better, which is my weaknesses and strengths and where I see myself in future. The time in Romania has passed so quickly. Beside the volunteering work, we had so much fun.Two months with a lot of new friends, new place for living, working with kids, parties. I have full head of memories and heart filled with emotions.I have enjoyed every day and for sure I will remember these days as one of my best days in my life.”- Hristina Najdovska, EVs volunteer from Macedonia
“Not only had I the opportunity to work with other volunteers, from different backgrounds, some with difficult lives, with different customs, different cultures and different languages, as I had the chance to meet, work and get to know local people, who teached me their language, who welcomed me to their country and showed me their culture. The project itself, summer camps for children and public events as “Living Library”, allowed me to choose in what I wanted to take part and how, having the full responsibility upon my own choices, my own schedule. Working daily with this kids, and providing them knowledge and joy in the same time makes me go home we the sense of duty fulfilled.I wish that every single young person has the same opportunity!”- Fabio Rodrigues – EVS volunteer from Portugal
“Doing this EVS project in Romania has been a really amazing experience. Although before I left I wasn’t sure at all of what I was going to do or how it would be, as I arrived and met all the other participant I understood I had nothing to worry about and that a great experience was going to begin.
In the camsp the main challenge was keeping the kids involved in the activities and communicate with them. The Romanian volunteers’ support has been fundamental for this, but also knowing few words in the local language represented a useful skill, and more than once prevented children from loosing attention and doing whatever else during the few seconds before the translation started. The ones from the villages have been a good challenge for organizing everything, cooperating all together and adapt to the country lifestyle.Besides this, these have been two wonderful weeks, and the easier it become to handle the kids, communicate with them and understand each other, the better relationship we had with them.” – Giulio Presti , EVS volunteer from Italy
“Almost two months since I arrived and a lot of stories to remember.I have known a new culture and an incredible one. Romania was a totally unknown country for me; a country full of prejudges and unfair treated. After this experience, I can say that Romania is a rich culture country with a lot of things to learn, but above all, with more things to share. I will love it forever.I have achieved the goals I proposed before coming here. I have improved my English, made new friends, known a new culture and places, enjoyed the project,I have laugh and cry as well and I have grown professionally and most important, personally.”- Isabel Ocana Nunez, EVS volunteer from Spain
“I learned a lot about my character and my strengths and weakness. The most I learned is how to reach goals I set for myself. These 2 months were a whole learning process. To see how other people achieve goals, trying to adapt them and also the other way round.You are improving yourself as a person, spreading your horizons, way of thinking, and seeing things in a new, better way.Even when you are in some kind of problem it empowers you to overcome it and to take on new challenges. All of this is just a small part of why I always keep on looking for opportunities like this one- because in the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” – Lorenz Fehrer – EVS volunteer from Austria
“Best two months of my life! I will never forget all the adventures I had, all the places I visited, all the people I met. Now I can say about Romania and break all the stereotypes that people have, I didn’t have any problem with Romania people, actually they are all very kind. One of the things I will really miss from Romania is the food, oh my god, homemade zacusca and salata de vinete are the best. The three summer camps we made were all so different, I really enjoyed the last one in Suciu the Jos, in a very small and traditional village, the kids really enjoyed and at the end they were crying.
At the summer camps it’s one of the best ways to learn Romanian, the kids keep talking to me and I started to understand some part of the sentences they say. It’s a good feeling when we realize that we can be understandable with a few words or even with gestures to people that don’t speak our language.” – Mara Marques, EVS volunteer from Portugal
“Even wanting to be part of the amazing project Discover-Connect-Change, I had my doubts the week before travelling; it was that mix feeling between fear and excitement previous a new adventure. But after the first camp with the children, all the preparation and organisation, all the people from the different countries who became my family in Baia Mare, I really knew I was in the right place, in the right moment, doing the right thing who can help me to grow up as a person and in the right organisation, YMCA, where I meet nice and interesting people.I really enjoy the camps with the children and I have seen myself enjoyed playing with them. So I really know now it is a job I can enjoy a lot in the future and contribute to the education of the children through the non- formal education.”- Maria Isabel Hernaez Garcia, EVS volunteer from Spain
“The first camp was for me like a sort of training, I was a bit nervous, as it was the first time I did this kind of activities with children. In the second and in the third ones I felt much more confident and relaxed as I know well how to work. I enjoyed them a lot.This project had a strong and building impact on me. I have learnt a lot and I have been also surprised by myself and by what I am able to do when I am enthusiast. I think that it has been useful also for the local community and very building for the children.I really liked holding the activities and also helping the other volunteers and the children in doing
them. Communication was not a big problem: I was able to make me understand by children with my basic knowledge of Romanian and sometimes with my body language and also with the support of some of the children that speak more English translating for the others. If I could go back in time I will repeat for sure this experience, maybe it was one of the most beautiful of all my life.”- Marta Nenna, EVS volunteer from Italy
“During the 3 camps with children in Baia Mare, Copalnic and Suciu de Jos we created our activity program for the children that joined the camp. All the camps were a big success, the kids loved it and we gave them a really special week, in which they learned things and also had a lot of fun. And so had I during the camps! I’ve learned a lot of things during my EVS project. It was the first time in my life that I must speak English for a long time to communicate with people, because of that, I really learned to explain things better in English. I learned to be more patience when you work in a team with other people, a thing that was before more difficult for me, to adapt in another environment with other facilities that i’m used to and to be involved with people from all different countries. Even while it was a 2 months project, it changed somethings for me. I think I’m more patience after this and more thankful to all the facilities we have in my country that are really good and where we still complain about it every day. I have a more open mind to other places and people that I don’t know so good before.”- Michiel Hindriks, EVS volunteer from The Netherlands
“In YMCA Romania I have learnt a lot of things to do with team building and leadership skills.Some and all of this I have learnt by being in camps and training with both YMCA and Erasmus Plus Program. In the training I have gone through a lot of emotions as well one of these being a cultural shock where I felt as if I couldn’t handle being away from my family and friends and was very upset but was able to stick through the program and I’m very happy that I did because I feel as if I have gained a new strength which I didn’t have before and this has caused me to look at a lot of things in different ways and be very optimistic to the future. Work wise I have been involved in a lot of trades and different jobs but always have enjoyed working with kids like in this EVS that has showed me a positive career in which I hope to take in youth work helping children with further opportunities and helping to make a silver lining on a day which is grey and to me speaking honestly if I didn’t have the YMCA I wouldn’t have this I would be on a path of uncertainty still and I wouldn’t like to think that I could of never come here.”- Daniel Appleton, EVS volunteer from United Kingdom
Videos created in the summer camps:
Partners: YMCA England, Pro-Atlantico (Portugal), Building Bridges (Spain), UcDean (Netherlands), Vicolocorto (Italy), Verein4YOUgend (Austria), YMCA Bitola (Macedonia)