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Volunteering Promote Goodness – A strategic EVS project focused on emphazising non-formal learning and raising the awareness about EVS and its values.

The wish to carry out this project was due to the fact, that there is a favourable environment in Europe that makes this not only possible but also desirable as shown by the fact that a growing number of stakeholders from various sectors intends to take advantage of the potential of NFL (non-formal learning). But there are still many people, who don´t know that EVS is good method for using formal and non-formal education and they are not aware of value of EVS and opportunity to participate in it.

This is not only emphasised by the growing attention of youth-targeting programmes (such as YiA and now E+) but also by our own experience. During a needs assessment exercise with returnee volunteers we identified a whole set of skills that their experience brought about. In particular: Global awareness; Adaptability; Interpersonal skills; Delegation capacity; Stress management; Self-confidence; Problem solving; Self-learning capacity; Strategic thinking etc.

In spite of this, links between youth organisations and other actors (i.e. government structures and labour market forces) are still scarce. This is possibly due to the lack of mechanisms to acknowledge and take advantage of inter-sectorial synergies and has emerged as a priority of our partners in the course of our growing collaborations.

Therefore, there was this wish to create an inspiring international environment for Estonia people in order to promote purposeful participation in lifelong learning and contribution to a community on the way of personal development in the global world.

EstYES was targeting the following strategic aims and objectives during the project:

  • To raise an awareness of value of EVS and opportunity to participate in it in Estonia county through increasing number of organisations working with EVS;
  • to raise an awareness of value of EVS and opportunity to participate in it amongst the organisations and youth;
  • to raise an awareness of European Solidarity Corps;
  • to increase the number of EVS accredited organisations and sending Estonia youth to EVS
  • To increase a capacity of EstYES NGO to coordinate, receive and send EVS volunteers
  • to create a systematic and structured new approach to service delivery in order to optimize work with all parties – volunteers, ROs, SOs, supervisors, mentors – involved into EVS;
  • to improve our competence of preparation and supporting EVS volunteers with fewer opportunities during the service with the help of supervision;
  • To create prerequisites for social inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities into EVS
  • to strengthen partnership with international organisations working with young people with fewer opportunities.

Our volunteers within this project did a great job with the promotion and raising awareness of the programmes. They shared their culture and information in the youth centres, education fairs and events, schools and kindergartens, among the parents and teachers. EstYES was also meeting with their partners to develop their collaboration and made agreements with new interested organisations. Collaboration was made with a few organisations who are supporting the youngsters with fewer opportunities.

The project is funded by the Archimedes Foundation Youth Agency from the Erasmus + program.

Interview with EVS volunteer Alexander from Germany

Interview with EVS volunteer Alexander from Germany

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.

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