EVS Experience - How One Month of Volunteering Changed My Life

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r3bl.me EVS Experience - How One Month of Volunteering Changed My Life

One month is a short amount of time. But, if you play your cards right, one month can change your perspective on life. And this is exactly what happened to me in the last month.

EVS Looking For Future (Springbos 2015)

I’ve spent the last month in the beautiful county in the western part of Europe called the Netherlands. I stayed in a city called Rijswijk (right next to Den Haag) where I joined seven more short term volunteers.

We represented eight different countries: Spain (two short term volunteers, one long term volunteer and one mentor), Austria (one short term and one long term volunteer), Ukraine (one short term volunteer), Georgia (one short term volunteer), Italy (one short term volunteer), Germany (one long term volunteer), Slovakia (one long term volunteer), and of course, Bosnia & Herzegovina (two short term volunteers and one long term volunteer). To make things a bit more interesting, we had two coordinators, one from India and one from Belgium and two mentors from Indonesia.

Now that’s a huge cultural clash. Apart from two Spanish guys that knew each other, nobody else had ever met anyone from this group before. We were complete strangers to each other on the first day, but yet we managed to become friends by the end of our journey together.

So, what did we do in the Netherlands?

We helped Don Bosco Youth Center in Rijswijk to create a fresh and interesting program for the children. We worked with the kids for five days a week, we collected 3000€ for the homeless children in Bolivia during the Kingsday (national holiday in the Netherlands), we organized a three day long festival for 300 children that we called Fruitbos, we worked with homeless people in Amsterdam and a whole lot more. Not bad for one month, right?

We had different activities almost every single day and we did our best to contribute to the whole community in Rijswijk and Amsterdam by working with the youngest generations.

We changed each other’s perspective and we got to know different cultures in a way that otherwise would not be possible in such a short amount of time. Now that we are back to our countries, we will do our best to change our local communities in a similar way.

What did I get from this experience?

The Netherlands is without a doubt the most liberal country in Europe. LGBT community is well accepted in this country, marihuana is legal[1] and prostitution is considered as nothing more than a regular job over there.

People don’t care where are you from, what religion you believe (or not believe) in, which color you are or whether you are a heterosexual or not. It is a country that fits my ideals perfectly and it was a real pleasure to live there for a month.

The Netherlands has an excellent public transport, which allowed me to visit every interesting city or place I wanted to visit in an hour or two. This allowed me to visit a lot of beautiful cities like Rotterdam, Den Haag, Delft, Leiden and Groningen cheaply and quickly. The traveler inside of me was very satisfied because of this.

I got a lot of connections from all over Europe and I experienced a climate that is a lot different than in my home country. I was able to listen to some of my favorite international DJs and producers. I experienced how it feels like to live in a developed country. I improved my English skills, learned a bit of Dutch and even a bit of Spanish. The list of accomplishments just goes on and on.

What will be my next step now?

After this wonderful experience, I’m going to try to work more closely with my youth organization. I’m going to continue studying towards my Bachelor degree and after it, I’m seriously going to consider applying for a Master degree in the Netherlands or finding an internship over there.

This has been my first Dutch experience, but I guarantee you, it won’t be my last. Seriously, I’m in love with this country!

In the end…

In the end, I wanted to say thank you to all of the volunteers that joined me from all over the Europe, to Dutch volunteers that helped us to feel at home, to students with whom we shared our accommodation, to the coordinators of Don Bosco Youth Center in the Netherlands and to Svitac Youth Center in my own city.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. You’ve made this month an unforgettable one for me. It was a real pleasure working with you guys and I do hope that this will not be the last time we meet each other.

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[1] Correction: After I did some research, I found out that marihuana is not legal in the Netherlands. It is just tolerated, which means that you are allowed to buy and posses a small amount of it without the consequences. As it turns out, Dutch politicians are trying to make the distribution of marihuana products as tough as possible.

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