My name is Olga Travnikova, I am from Russia, I am 22 years old. In Tallinn, I work at the Tallinna Kuristiku Gümnaasium gymnasium. My project is mainly about helping teachers. For example, I teach Russian and English classes, as well as organize extracurricular activities for individual classes.
There were several reasons why I chose this particular project. First of all, I really wanted to work at the school, so that I would not limit myself to one age group, but work with children of different ages. We have a large gymnasium, so you can always find a class where my help will be useful. In addition, during the selection interview, I really liked my tutor, and I decided that I would be happy to work with this person for the next year.
My expectations from the project were fully met, even despite the ongoing pandemic. The tutor supports all my ideas and ideas. Here I was able to implement literally everything that I proposed and wanted to do.
The biggest challenge for me was the Estonian language. In primary school, the children don’t know English yet, so of course I learn Estonian and improve it all the time of the project. I am happy that after six months, I can already communicate freely with children. Russian-speaking children also need to practice their Estonian, so the gymnasium welcomes the fact that I try to speak to them in Estonian, and not in Russian.
Of course, when you work with children, especially those of primary school age, many funny and memorable stories happen. One day I had to send some documents urgently, and I got my laptop out at school. The next day, the children drew their own laptops and sat with them in class.
Speaking of the country, I had never been to Estonia before the project, and living in Lasnamae, a Russian-speaking area of Tallinn, was a bit of a culture shock for me, because sometimes it felt like I had never left home. However, this is a kind of culture within a culture, because if you look closely, everything is not the same as in Russia.
Despite some disadvantages of my volunteer apartment, I am glad that I live together with guys from different countries and from different projects, because I am always happy to meet new people, and the cross-cultural environment is very inspiring. Getting to know someone with a completely different background and culture is one of the most important and interesting parts of the project, in my opinion.
Because of my experience working in an intercultural environment, I don’t believe in stereotypes. They always collapse. I went to Estonia without listening to different opinions about people and life here. I prefer to get to know people myself, immerse myself in their lifestyle and find something inspiring and impressive in it.
In Estonia, I was very surprised that there is so much in such a small country. Especially insanely happy with nature. In general, I’m even glad that I got here in a pandemic. I used to travel and travel all the time. Perhaps if I had been able to leave Estonia, I would not have appreciated so much how beautiful this country is.
I think the most important experience of the ESC project for me is working with a new language from scratch, as well as the skills of how to get involved in a completely unfamiliar community. Also, here I realized how important proactivity is. I spent a lot of time and organized it because I approached the teachers myself and offered my help and some ideas.
The project has become a unique opportunity for me to find myself. Here I decided on the direction of further development and discovered a lot of new things in myself.