Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

Ola Boguchwala’s highschool graduate left for EVS to France

 Ola in “Maison de jeunes et de la culture”, in France

My name is Aleksandra, and I’ve been a volunteer for quite some time now. I’ve organised conferences, workshops and concerts, I’ve worked in a children’s hospice and made an extraordinary amount of coffee while volunteering in a social cafe. I’ve been a member of a students’ school council, I’ve done some work for an animal shelter. Every one of these projects gave me some new insight, taught me something I hadn’t known beforehand. None of it could have prepared me for the exceptional experience that is EVS though. The huge cultural jump, the language struggle, all of the new faces and places, and tea flavours – it can get a bit overwhelming at times, but mostly it’s just incredibly motivating and inspiring. But, from the beginning. I started my project on the 1st of September, when, after way too many hours of travel, I arrived in Flers, Normandy. It’s a small town, but I had already known that when I applied, more than half a year earlier.

What I hadn’t known before I arrived though, was how full of life and active it would be. Cultural, sportif and music centers were all over the place, advertising their next basketball game, a theatre show or a concert. And MJC (a „Maison de jeunes et de la culture” – a Cultural Youth Centre, in the loosest of translations), the place I was supposed to work at for the following 12 months, wasn’t buzzing with activities any less. (Even more so in some aspects). And so I’m currently in the middle of preparing a cultural evening, having put up my exhibition about Poland just a couple of days before. Somewhere in between I went to an art festival in the south of France. Before that there was an ice-skating event, and before that a meeting of associations from all over Normandy, and before that workshops on European mobility and countless, countless French lessons. One of the most satysfying aspects about the kind of work I do here is the amount of freedom involved. Obviously some of the parts are mandatory, but if I feel like doing some art classes for children, I can do it, and if I’d rather organise English lessons for adults – well, it’s very much on the table as well. Among my plans there’s a stop-motion animation workshop, but also some weekly parent-child activities and a huge makeover of the social media profiles of the MJC. Other than that, I will visit schools to talk about the European Union and european citizenship, prepare poetry evenings in cooperation with the local library and jam sessions in cooperation with the music school. Human rights workshops, concerts, dancing salsa, whatever I can think of.

Possibilities are truly endless and I’m glad – this is exactly what I’d been searching for, even if I’m a bit slowed down by the language barrier part. All of this, alongside with the amount of amazing people I’ve met and the places I’ve had the opportunity to visit (and there are more coming I’m sure of it), makes European Voluntary Service a project incredibly easy to recommend. It broadens your horizons, teaches you a new language and makes you not only step, but jump right out of your comfort zone – in the best of ways. Granted, it also makes you complain a lot about the fact that there’s no right ingredients for your national food in your new hometown, but to be honest, no one here knows how it’s supposed to taste like anyway. I encourage you to give EVS a try, and would do so in more words, but there’s a cultural evening for me to plan. And so, so many other things.