Dates: 15. 10. 2017 – 14. 10. 2018
Venue: Valmiera, Latvia
Programme and action: Erasmus+, KA1, European Voluntary Service – short term
Hosting organization: Valmieras novada fonds – Youth House „Ceplis”
Volunteer: Lucie Sitarová – Vander Luc (Youtube channel)
In the end of October 2017 I flew with one suitcase to the mysterious country of Latvia. I didn’t know much about it, except for that it is cold, really dark in the winter, and the people use a lot of dill in their cuisine.
My hosting organization was Valmieras novada fonds, a community foundation in a city of Valmiera (8th biggest city in Latvia, 28 000 people). I lived in a flat with 3 other volunteers. We quickly became a small ad hoc family and enjoyed our year in Latvia together. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to work and live with the awesome people from VNF and my volunteer family. They were very supportive, excited for my initiatives and always ready to help.
I worked as a youth worker in an independent Youth House Ceplis. My main goal was to activize the local youngsters, improve their English skills and also open their minds to the idea of taking part in international programmes, such as Erasmus+. I was meeting these goals by organizing various workshops in the Youth House, mostly about soft skills, culture and Erasmus+ presentations, and crafting and eco workshops. I also led FitBalet classes, cooperated with local Youth House, taught children in kindergarten English and me and the other volunteers organized a Youth Festival called Mišmaš. Overall I organized over 60 workshops and presentations.
I also worked with the local Youth Bank and its members on increasing their capabilities and we organized a Youth Exchange called Business for Impact, that was focused on social entrepreneurship. You can see short video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDkz62O1yrY&list=PLu1IzvxmUNek6KbyxoDz5Bo9FjxOZHpfg
EVS is not only about working, but also about learning. I worked in project management, marketing and facilitation before, my goal was to train and improve these skills in a different environment, which I did.
European voluntary service is not only about working, but also about exploring the culture and country. I had the immense honour of being able participate as a dancer in the Song and Dance Celebration. You can see the video from the last day here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ONloWp5Q9E We were also fortunate to take part in traditional Summer solstice celebrations and rituals.
Me and my friends also travelled a lot around Latvia and Estonia, mostly by hitchhiking, thanks to which we met many interesting people and were able to practice Latvian too.
My EVS was an awesome experience that helped me get rid of my fears and really empowered me live my life the way I want it. It wouldn’t be the same without my awesome colleagues and now friends from Valmieras novadas fonds, Youth Bank, my volunteer family, other volunteers, my co-dancers, all the drivers we met while hitchhiking and everyone else.