I work in a small village of De Glind that is located in the middle of the Netherlands. Our workplaces are located mostly right next to us, a little more than 5 minutes walking. This village was created in the 1950s and there were built many houses of family type. These are somehow prototypes of our boarding houses, but they provide cosy family environment where children do not feel separated from the society, and there are a lot of different activities and support for them here. My duties include helping the parents at home, playing different kinds of games with kids, helping in the kitchen etc. Also, I am a coach assistant at the local gym for various activities and sports training. During the week I play football with children, we practice judo, dodgeball (trefbal - Netherlands ball game), board games and we organise creative lessons. These are not ordinary children, but those who have certain psychological problems or other problems in the family. The majority of them are very closed. But thanks to the fact that I had a lot of experience in social organization with people, it is easier for me to communicate withe them. Nevertheless, they are children, and here you need to use a completely different approach. That's why we have trainings that explain us how to behave or what to do in different situations with children.
At first it was difficult to adapt to local rules and regulations. Starting with how and when to take out garbage, in which bag and how it has to be folded and finishing with the use of public transport and bicycles on local roads. The benefit is that there is a priority for them everywhere.
We were very well received, and helped with everything from the very beginning. In this village we have a coordinator who helps us with domestic problems or issues at work. Communication is arranged very well. Slowly I am discovering Dutch culture, because it is very different from Ukrainian one. Local traditions, holidays, culture, national cuisine, the culture of bicycles. I constantly draw parallels with Ukraine.
On this project there are four of us, all from different countries: a guy from Spain, a girl from Turkey, a German girl and a Ukrainian. Therefore, we constantly communicate with each other in English, and this is also very cool. Immediately you feel how the level of language proficiency is increasing and where are your weaknesses.
At work, everyone communicates with each other in Dutch, and this is still one of the biggest challenges for me - lack of knowledge of the local language. People at work speak English to me, but not everyone speaks it fluently. Therefore, we have Dutch language courses and in addition, I set a goal for myself - to learn it. And for this the classes are not enough, so now almost every day I spend time studying Dutch. I really want to try to challenge myself, if I am capable or not. I want to live this year with benefit for myself and for other people.
Also there are weekends when I am always travelling, discovering different parts of the country. And since our country is small, it seems easy to do that. I have already visited 8 out of the 12 regional centers and I can say that the all parts of the Netherlands are very similar and very different at the same time. I also managed to visit Belgium and Luxembourg doing hitchhiking. It was a great adventure! For this trip I took some of my extra days off.
My plans for travelling and working are great, so I just have to plan and implement them.
Yurii Voloshyn, 25 years old, Kupiansk