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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.

Volunteer Eva’s impression of Estonia

Volunteer Eva’s impression of Estonia

My name is Eva, I am 21 years old and I am from Saratov. I have been in Estonia for six months already. Here I work in the Montessori kindergarten. I changed my project, so I have been working in this kindergarten for about 2 months.

My first project was related to working in an orphanage for disadvantaged children. It was psychologically difficult for me to work there. In addition, I tried to become a friend for the children, and the leaders of the orphanage wanted to see the volunteer as someone like a teacher who could follow the discipline, but the children did not perceive me that way. In practice, it turned out that I am too gentle and kind for such a job. In addition, I imagined volunteering at the shelter a little differently. I thought I could organize something. For example, teach children to draw or teach French. However, the children in this orphanage are thinking about something else entirely. They have a stressful life situation, because they were taken from the family, and now the question of what will happen to the child next is being decided – he will be returned to the family or he will go to an orphanage. It is good that a volunteer may not finish his project ahead of schedule if something went wrong and the work did not fit, but to solve this problem and ask for help to find another job.

It’s easier for me to work in kindergarten, although I have much more responsibilities. I play with children and learn the Montessori technique. I think in the future, upon arrival in Russia, I would like to study to be a Montessori teacher. The essence of Montessori is that the child himself chooses what he wants to do, and for him I am more like an assistant, not a mentor. I do not help the child, he does everything himself, making mistakes and fostering independence in himself.

When I first arrived in Estonia, I did not feel the language barrier. I think that if the volunteer knows Russian well and can speak English, then there will be no problems. At work in the shelter, they spoke Russian to me, so I learned Estonian rather for myself. I really like the Estonian language, I think it is very beautiful.

In general, a lot in Estonia is as I expected. For example, there is a stereotype that Estonians are rather cold and do not make contact, and I notice that this is so. The first thing that struck me was that no one on the street was looking you in the eye. I thought that you can meet locals in cafes or bars, but even there they are often not ready for this. But at work, people are quite open, although not all of them either.

Overall, I really like Estonia and Tallinn. It is a beautiful city. I really love to walk around the Old Town. The only thing I don’t like is the weather and the Lasnamae district is the Russian-speaking district of Tallinn with buildings similar to Russian, therefore, the atmosphere there is different from the rest of the city, and this place looks more like Russia than Estonia.

I didn’t expect to miss my home and family so much. However, in spite of everything, I am happy with my project and the fact that I came here. I really think about how to continue to develop in the field of Montessori pedagogy. Everything that is done is for the best. I think if there is a chance to go to another country, try a new field of activity for yourself, be a volunteer – it’s worth the risk.

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