How did I start my EVS. My EVS lasted one year from June 2017 till June 2018. I have been dreaming of volunteering experience in another country for a long time. But for several years I was involved into projects related to internal migration at UN office in Kiev. However, I haven’t forgotten about my intention to take part in EVS, because working as a volunteer brings you into new environment, makes communicate with new people and gives opportunity to change the usual pace of life by discovering new and unknown things. After my 29th birthday, realizing that with every year I have less and less chances to take part in EVS, I began to actively look for projects. I will never forget the moment when I encountered the project "Integration of migrants in Berlin", since researching integration processes in the context of international migration is another dream of mine. Apart from anticipating adventures, travels and new acquaintances, I also wanted to share my experience of work in projects and apply linguistic skills.
My work in the project. Thus, in June 2017 I start working at Iberika Sprachsсhule.
The school provides integration courses for migrants, which consist of language course (6 months) and orientation course (1 month), where students can get know more about Germany, its cultural, economic and political life. The core idea of the project I worked in was facilitating integration and social acclimatization of migrants into the new society. So a special attention was required for such topics as human rights, discrimination, stigmatization and intercultural dialogue. On a daily basis I was interacting directly with newcomers and helping them with formalities in order to make them feeling more comfortable not only while being students of our language school, but outside as well. Among my tasks were: providing administrative support, oral translation (Arabic-English), organizing after-class meet-ups to practice German, preparing material for ongoing projects, conducting surveys, posting useful materials for our students in Iberika’s Facebook page.
A big part of advices and tips, which I was sharing in Facebook, are based on my own experience as a newcomer, since myself I needed to go through stages of quick integration into the new society. I was lucky to have worked with amazing people. The working atmosphere was always friendly and supportive. Working with migration-related area, I was able to get know how government is dealing with international migration. That was a valuable experience for me.
On-arrival and mid-term trainings. Meeting other EVS participants during trainings was another useful and exciting experience. We were a group of people with different backgrounds and working tasks, but united with similar goals and ideas. During training we were participating in workshops and discussions on important social topics. My mid-term seminar took place in Wurzburg, a lovely city in Bavaria. It was a lucky coincidence to be there during popular Carnival, which they call Fasching, that was very bright and vivid event, seems that all citizens took part in that.
Berlin and me. During this year Berlin has become my second home. I had a chance to learn the city quite well and understand its spirit. Apart from the most famous touristic attractions, Berlin has a lot of other things to offer. Thus, I climbed about 10 observation decks, checked the shortest metro line (2 stations), visited Peacock island, undertook a 5-hour trip by boat from Berlin to Potsdam, attended bright Carnival of Cultures, which lasted 4 days and enjoyed many other events.
What EVS gave me. This project has brought me a lot: meeting new people, seeing new places, discovering new cultures, learning new language. I improved my Arabic and learnt German from zero. I visited other German cities and neighbor countries. Luckily, it was often possible to find attractive prices for tickets for many destinations. I think EVS creates a precious opportunity to enjoy a work-life balance so that you can have time for travelling as well. I believe trips are important for the personal growth, they enrich our experience, take us out of the usual surrounding and broaden our outlook. This year was full of opportunities to develop my personal and professional skills. My project taught me to always be ready for new challenges.
I am convinced that intercultural experience is very important for building a friendly environment. Every one of us is like a brick of the social system and by taking care of our personal development we contribute to strengthening the society in general. Such projects help to erase the artificial border, which exists between different cultures in the form of stereotypes and prejudice. My volunteering experience motivates me to be an active world citizen and inspires for further accomplishments.
I am grateful to all people who made my EVS happen and who were the part of my EVS life!
Maiia Govorukha, 30 years old, Kyiv