#glocal — Lithuania


Dates: 23. September 2019 – 12. June 2020

Venue: Kaunas, Lithuania

Programme and action: European Solidarity Corps, volunteering projects – long-term

Please read the EVS infopack.

Hosting organization: Kaunas Kazys Griunius progymnasium

Volunteers: Barbora Otáhalová

Shortly about the project:

It’s a long-term project, which was supposed to last 9 months. Unfortunatelly I had to leave three months earlier because of the Coronavirus pandemy. My hosting organization was a primary school Kauno Kazio Griniaus Progimnazia located in Kaunas, which is the second biggest town in Lithuania. In my school I was teaching English and Spanish. I was also assistanting during English lessons and helping some weaker students who had problems with English.

Report from the project:

My project was awesome from the very beginning. When I came to my school for the first time, I was really surprised, because the teachers and students prepared so many things which I didn’t expect. For example there was a photo of me on the front school door. When I enter, they welcomed me very beautifully. There were many balloons everywhere and I felt more like I entered a party then entering a school. After that they showed me a presentation about school and then the children told me a poem. I was really happy.

In the first week in my school we were discussing a lot about my activities that I can do there. We weren’t really sure about what should I do – I was the first volunteer ever at this school! After lot of thinking we decided that I will try to help some kids who are not so good in English. My second activity there was a language course for teachers. There was one for begginers and one for advanced. I also started to do afternoon Spanish clubs. It was really nice. We were doing not just grammar, but we were also singing Spanish songs and playing games. Activity that I liked the most was my English Club for first graders. In Lithuania is English compulsory from second grade, so I tried to teach them something before entering the second grade. It was amazing. In my lessons we were just playing games, singing songs and drawing. The children were so nice and always full of energy. I enjoy working with small kids especially because they don’t pretend anything, they are honest and they always give me feedback of my work really fast. Adults are usually not like this…

In general, I felt in my school like in another world. Lithuania is a country with no sun and full of people who never smile. My school was an opposite. Every morning during my whole volunteering when I come to school, the smallest kids run to me and hugged me. It was so nice and even though it was really cold there, they made me feel warm.

In my free time I tried to travel with my friends. Once we went to Riga in Latvia by hitchhiking and it was really nice (and little creepy) but we saved 40 euros and that’s really worth it! We also visited a lot of places in Lithuania. We have also planned a trip to Scandinavia, but we couldn’t do it because of the Coronavirus.

I must admit that I loved to live in Lithuania so much, but not everything was perfect. One of the things I didn’t like was weather. Mostly it was cloudy and raining. I wasn’t used to this kind of weather so I was kind of shocked. Now when I’m back in Czech Republic I really appreciate every sunny moment. Another thing I didn’t like was absence of mountains. I’m a mountain lover and when I realize, that there are just a few little hills, I was a little disappointed. Anyway, In Lithuania there is a lot of beautiful places in nature, like forests, lakes or National Parks.

In Kaunas we were around 23 volunteers from countries like Spain, Italy. France, Germany, Austria, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia, Denmark, Turkey, Belgium and Russia. I really liked that when we were together, we were like a family. When I needed a help, they were always there for me and that was great. I appreciate it so much.

During my stay in Lithuania I learned so many new things. The biggest progress that I’ve done there was improving my Russian. Before going to Lithuania I had a basic knowledge, but after six months there I became fluent. Lithuania is one of the countries that were part of Soviet Union, so almost everyone spoke Russian. I also attended a Lithuanian language course. I must say that Lithuanian language is really hard and I didn’t have so much motivation to learn it, because everyone I met spoke Russian or English. Anyway I learned something because our course was very intense so I tried to use this knowledge at least during shopping in supermarket. Another thing that I’ve learned and that is worth to mention is playing ukulele. It started because my amazing flatmate Julie played this instrument and I was admiring her so much. She let me tried it and I’ve realized that it’s more practical than guitar, because it’s smaller. I started practicing a lot and then I got also ukulele for Christmas from my mum. Afterwards I started using it during my lessons at school.

I appreciate al the time I spent in Lithuania. I’m so happy and thankful for all the experience I gained and for all the people I met there! Without them it wouln’t be so amazing.

Barbora Otáhalová

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