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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.

My ESC in Tallinna Südalinna Kool – impression by our volunteer Alina

My ESC in Tallinna Südalinna Kool – impression by our volunteer Alina

“What’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing”. These words were my thoughts before participation in European Solidarity Corps (ESC), a part of which I wanted to be for a long time.

My name is Alina. I’m from Russia, Siberia. My homeland Tuva republic borders on Mongolia and it is far enough from Estonia. Despite this, I chose Tallinn for my voluntary service.

I can say that Estonia indeed attracted me with the digital environment and the modern education system. I had heard about advanced educational solutions in Estonia earlier and I wanted to see how it works. My choice fell on Tallinna Südalinna Kool because I was impressed with the school description and I had a past experience as a teacher. Before I worked with children in Russian schools where I taught German and English and I was ready to learn new things from foreign colleagues.

I’m often asked what I do. Volunteering is, first of all, free assistance, but not only. You are also a part of the international community and the mutual exchange of cultural experiences. In addition, you work in new conditions and discover yourself in a new role.

So, my voluntary service is in Kogupäevakool. It is a long-day school where children come after their lessons. I work as an assistant and help the main teacher. My responsibilities are to keep an eye on children outside, to lead my hobby group and to have information when each of children comes and leaves. Also, my tasks include help with events organization and our room cleaning at the end of the day. Time usually flies because approximately 100 children come to us every day. Days are really busy, but exciting as well. In fact, when you work with children, not only you teach them, but they also teach you.

The biggest challenge for me is Estonian. Unfortunately, there aren’t any language courses for people from Russia and I learn it online on my own. At first, children and I understood each other not so well, but then we managed nevertheless. The basic Estonian phrases I know and English help us. Sometimes the children themselves teach me Estonian words. Moreover, nobody has canceled sign language.

I like that I have an opportunity to share my culture and language at Russian culture club. I lead it once a week and tell about my country. Here children can see videos about Russia, find out city life more, play games and taste Russian food. Furthermore, we learn Russian by practicing dialogues and find the culture and language differences and similarities.

I love children and I would like to continue to teach. Some teaching methods in Tallinna Südalinna Kool attracted me especially. For example, it is necessary to talk with children calmly without raising your voice. In my opinion, this approach has a positive effect on discipline and respectful attitude to each other. Additionally, all Estonian schools use the web application eKool. I think the digital form is the best way to organize all the information necessary for teaching and learning nowadays.

It is important to note that there are some restrictions at school as a prohibition of using phones. At the same time the school gives freedom to children. For instance, they can play table football or tennis in the corridor at a break. Also, I was really impressed with the number of hobby groups and modern technologies that are used in the school. I have not seen anything like that before.

In Tallinna Südalinna Kool I got a new professional experience and many warm memories. I really appreciate this experience and support provided by my tutors, colleagues and the headmaster. I hope the school will continue to invite volunteers. I do believe that it is a great opportunity for volunteers, children and teachers to exchange knowledge about culture and education and teach each other new things.

This project has been funded by Archimedes Foundation Youth Agency with support from the European Commission Solidarity Corps programme.

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