Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

Why to volunteer abroad?

Interview with Joao Amiguinho – EVS Volunteer at INPRO

Why did you decide to apply for EVS?

There are many reasons for me to have applied for EVS, despair might be the one I’m going with. I was at back home in Portugal looking for a job without any luck. This had gone on for some months, and family pressure to find one was also starting to get to me. You know, they were part of that generation that had a job lined up for them as soon as they got of age. They were also from the time when if you knew how read and write you could pretty much do anything. So I lost hope to find a job and that drove me to apply for EVS. One year abroad working, away from family and friends was way too good a deal for me to refuse. So I thought to myself, I’ll do this and in the meantime I’ll have time to ‘find myself’ and decide what to do with my life.

What attracted you to Poland?

I must admit, Poland was not my first choice for EVS, but to be fair I didn’t choose the country, I was choosing according to the project. And INPRO had a project I knew I could be good at. Luckily I was in Poland in April just before the project started and got to visit Białystok. I fell in love with the city! It was small but modern and clean, and the people were beautiful. So in the end, my final decision came because of a mix of two good things, a lovely country and a good project.

What made you choose to volunteer in INPRO?

As the Portuguese job market was saturated by older generations and I was a recent graduate in film studies without any kind of knowledge in the matter, I had no opportunity to work my art in my home country. Indeed, it was a blessing that I found a project that would focus on human rights, movie nights (“Open Cinema”) and also would give me the opportunity to practice my public speaking.

What were your expectations?

Workwise I expected to be more relaxed, not so much focused on work all the time, but more fun and inviting. I didn’t expect to run to work afraid of being five minutes late. I had an internship in Austria before, and my experience was pretty fun and relaxed, and I guess I expected the same out of voluntary work. I didn’t expect much from the other aspects of my life in Poland, just that I would work on my own stuff more, which I had neglected. In the beginning I was mad at the city as I expected a bit more from it, but now I see it was little bit my fault. There are a lot of things to do here, but if I don’t go out more to do them then the blame’s on me.

How do you think you have changed during your time in INPRO? Did you expect any of the changes that have occurred for you?

A lot has changed for me, workwise I started paying more attention to what I do during  my working hours, how much can I get done during the day, and prepare myself with material I might need. Personally I became more open to other people, less judgemental and stopped caring how other people choose to live their lives as long as it doesn’t interfere with mine.

Did your time in Poland and in INPRO inspire you about your future career path or your future life plans?

I came here with the purpose of finding myself, my career path and up until now I only feel even more lost. Being here has been good to learn what I don’t want to do with my life, something I’m sure I don’t want to do even if I can, like dealing with large groups of people. Apart from that I’ve been having fun learning to code and studying other fields not at all close to mine, hoping to find something. I think I still need more time, ask me again when I’m thirty. I’ll know the answer by then.

What was the most interesting experience that you have had during your time as a volunteer?

I’m not sure, interesting is a funny word, anything can be mentioned, but maybe all the times we organize ‘Open Café’. It is an event where people come to talk about different topics for two hours. Usually we arrange a set of questions for them to debate and have a conversation. In the beginning, things would work out fine, nowadays every time people come to the event, they have no intention of participating, they just come to go out afterwards, and if they don’t like the topic they treat the staff with disrespect which to me is very weird. If I had no interest in the event I would not go, I would just go out afterwards. So yes, this is very interesting indeed.

Would you recommend other young people to go for EVS? If yes, why?

Yes, I would recommend EVS. It is a great opportunity to learn a lot about yourself and other cultures, to open up and to grow, if nothing else EVS is also a good opportunity to get some work experience. I would just advice to research the organization they are applying for, to do something they really like and something they wish to improve.