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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.

Spreading the Christmas spirit

Spreading the Christmas spirit

In December I had the opportunity to connect traveling with helping some of my EVS friends and spreading some kind of German Christmas spirit in Estonia.

On the 7th of December EVS-volunteers from all over Estonia came together to not only celebrate but also show their own Christmas traditions and activities to the children and their families of Paikusse Kindergarten, Pärnu. The day started with a very warm and friendly welcome from the kindergarten stuff and Nieves, the Spanish volunteer whose idea was it to combine the annual kindergarten event with some international spirit. But in order to host a good event there is a lot of work waiting to be done. So we started to prepare our activities. Whilst the Hungarian volunteers occupied the kitchen to make some typical biscuits, the two girls from Italy decided to not cook their beloved pasta and used it for handicrafts instead. Handicrafts is also what the Austrian guys went for. Sometimes with more, sometimes with less glitter they made Christmas cards with and for the children. Katerina from Greece knows as well as we all do that food is the key to everything so she also prepared some typical baked goods. Also Francesca and I from Germany decided to make friends with the help of decorating gingerbread and some typical German Christmas drinks. A little bit more creative was the idea from the Dutch volunteers who were offering to make Christmas decorations in a cup. More beautiful decoration could be made with the French guys. Claudia from Spain was modelling plasticise into some Christmas related figures. Many volunteers and many ideas mean a huge offer of different activities. These just named activities took place in different rooms all over the kindergarten. Each country had their own room with Christmas music.

As soon as the event begun, time went past really quickly. It was great to show some of the typical German Christmas traditions to the Estonian families. Many of them especially liked the Christmas drink, asked for the recipe and soon we started chatting about other things as well. About EVS, why we chose Estonia for our project and what our project is about. It was great to share some information about EVS and educate people about this great opportunity. Also we had the chance to practice our Estonian skills. After the event was over my cheeks were hurting, because of all the smiling and talking to the lovely children and their friendly and interested parents. But the day was not over yet. Together with the kindergarten stuff we had some kind of after party, got introduced to some typical Estonian games and ended up being a little (or more than a little 😉 ) tipsy and dancing to “Despacito”. A decision we regretted the next morning. We had to get up really early and had a walking tour around Pärnu, we learned a lot about the city’s history and later got even more information in the city museum. Even though I was really tired, I enjoyed getting some new information not only about Pärnu but also Estonia in general.

Järgmine peatus: bussijaam. From there we travelled to Pärnu and took part in the volunteers Christmas party in Old Town, Tallinn. Organized by volunteers and our organisations (e.g. ESTyes) we spend a great night, with food, a lot of drinks and many conversations. Meeting all the volunteers and share our experience is always great.

After the weekend in Tallinn, my mission to spread the German Christmas spirit, continued. Together with Francesca, another German volunteer I travelled to Rakvere. We prepared sausages with potato salad for the kids, who are visiting the social centre. Every day, after school they come there, get a warm meal, help with homework and just some nice company. After Cecile, the French volunteer working there, introduced us to their colleagues and the children, we quickly made friends by playing UNO and other games. It was great to see how open and welcoming they behaved towards us, even though the barely knew us. For me it was also really helpful to get to know other fields of EVS work. I work with disabled people, which I really enjoy, but seeing projects like the social centre or the kindergarten really inspired me to try out some new things in my own EVS project as well. Furthermore it is great to team up with other volunteers, work together, spread some international (Christmas) vibes and live the diversity, which the EVS is standing for.

Nadja stays in Estonia for 12 months within the project ”Be the Change” which is funded by Erasmus+ European Voluntary Service program.

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