Interview with EVS volunteer Alexander from Germany

EstYES 10.10.2017

This week we’ll get to know 19-year- old Alexander Schmitt from Germany. He left his small German town to do his EVS in the youth center of Tabasalu.

Did you choose Estonia or did Estonia choose you?
It’s kind of a funny story how I ended up here. I knew that I want to work in a youth project and I would love to spend some time in the northern part of Europe. I already knew Southern Europe from vacations and I wanted to experience something different. Of course, Estonia was not that popular and I firstly applied for Scandinavian countries such as Finland and Sweden. But a lot of the projects did not answer. Through my sending organization I found this quite an interesting project here in Estonia – exactly what I was looking for.

So how is your project going?
I really enjoy it! I like coming here every day. I have a lot of fun at work.

What does a normal day look like?
There is not really a normal day but usually my working time starts at 12 or 1 o’clock and I stay here till 7 or 8 o’clock. It really depends on the activities planned for the day. Sometimes when I have an easy day, I don’t have anything planned. I just play with kids, listen to music and play cards or billiard. But that’s not all what I do here. I have the chance to do my own projects, offer course or cooperate with other youth centers. Of course, I’m always up to help other staff members to do their projects. Every Thursday is Creative Thursday where I do some handicraft with kids. Once I did a German culture evening when I organized the game where children had to play against us youth workers, everyone enjoyed it and we all had a lot of fun. I give dance classes on a regular basis as well. So you see we do lots of different things here. On holidays for example we offer day camps normally for small children.

How many children are normally around?
That’s also different. It may happen that during the entire day we have only 10 kids, which means that sometimes there are only 1 or 2 kids here at a time. But then there are other days. The craziest day was when we had 46 kids here at the same time.

Why did you choose to do volunteering in the first place?
Well, all members of my family have done some volunteering. And since I am old enough to take care of others, I have also done different things. In church I did some youth work. I used to be a judo trainer and helped others after school. I also know I’d like to be a teacher afterwards and I wanted to gain more experience. At the same time I can see a lot of different things and I definitely have to handle everything on my own and take care of myself.

Do you feel any changes?
I would say yes. My appearance changed as I now have a different hair style but I think I also changed inside. It’s just really hard to describe because it comes step by step. One thing I definitely learned about myself is that I am in a better mood if I work. So I always need to organize something to be happy. But I also feel some personal changes. I became more self-confident. Though I think people who don’t really know me wouldn’t notice these changes, but people who know me better probably would see them.

Alexander Schmitt stayed in Estonia for 12 months within the project ”Broadening Horizons II” which
is funded by Erasmus+ European Voluntary Service program.