I am a volunteer in the Gruener Grashalm organisation - a non-governmental organisation that promotes intercultural cooperation through outdoor educational projects.
What I am doing here? I help organising outdoor activities such as climbing, sailing, kayaking, cycling and hiking. Also, using my background in fine arts I organise creative workshops and create flyers to advertise and promote the upcoming projects and events. Volunteers are updating our facebook page and the website of our organisation. Between projects the other volunteers and I both maintain and renovate the organisation's building. Specifically, we have installed a new kitchen, bathroom, workshop space and we learned about forest management and how to prepare wood for the future years .
Since February we had four projects: a music project “Integration through Art “ , a youth leader training project "Ticket to Adventure", a training in “Experiential education for social inclusion “ in Poland, a "Tango" project in Siberia and a German-Greek Outdoor Education training Ostsee Odyssee.
What have I learned? We had many trainings, such as:
Before Gruener Grashalm I had never used a bike, and in June another volunteer and I went on a two week bike trip through the mountains and lakes of Switzerland. In addition, I have become more fluent in English, and can now express myself well when talking to native speakers. Here, I have become aware of intercultural differences because we have volunteers and participants from all across Europe coming to work with us. I have an opportunity to communicate with many interesting people and learn a lot about different cultures. However, this also sometimes leads to differences in expectations, or even misunderstandings. I learned to deal with disagreements and conflicts respectfully, and learned more about different working styles.
This year I have been able to travel to many different countries like Italy (it was my little dream to see the Bolognia Children's Book Fair), Poland, France, and Switzerland, and I have traveled in Germany a little bit (Rostock, Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, Freiburg and Friedricshafen).
About free time here: the life in my village is pretty quiet. I like making ceramics in the village nearby every week and there is also a number of communities with different events.
So volunteering like EVS gives you a lot of opportunities. You just need to find the right direction to imlement your ideas!
Daria Babchenko, 28, Kyiv