A good portion of the EVS enthusiasts chooses this program because there is only one type of people that the prospect of volunteering somewhere in a foreign land may attract – the kind of people that cannot sit still for longer than five minutes. So the chances are you will find other restless souls wherever EVS takes you.
There’s seven of us, volunteers, here in the Latvian fairytale town, also known as Sigulda: four Spanish, an Italian, a Georgian and me. Each of us works in a different organisation but we all share one common goal: we want more!
The first week I came here, among sightseeing the capital, enjoying picturesque Latvian autumn on the Gauja National Park’s trails, meeting my wonderful co-workers and learning my duties and possible directions to develop an individual project, I also met with my coordinator. When asked what else she can do for me, I replied: I want to teach this, that, and more… In reply she simply took out her phone and called someone (one of so many moments I wished I had known Latvian).
Sigulda is a very well networked town, everyone knows each other, everyone is highly motivated to make their job as beneficial for the recipient (youth and children) as possible.
A couple of phone calls, a couple of meetings and about a month and a half later here we are. I work with my, by now good Latvian friend, in ceramics workshop with disabled adults (yes I have learnt how to work with clay here), and I am designing a puppet theatre stage for children attending the center (I had never before been responsible for designing and creating an Arts&Crafts project on my own). Apart from that I teach advanced lyrical and contemporary dance to a group of children skilled in acrobatics (some of them are getting better than I am! We are already thinking about participating in a competition). I have initiated a postcard exchange project between a kindergarten in Poland and Valdorf kindergarten in Sigulda. I have attended kindergarten English classes to share my knowledge of some entertaining ‘repeat after me and do as I do’ camp songs with children. Starting soon I will be teaching English to youngsters and adults in the local Youth Center, which is also where I will be giving modern and commercial dance classes in cooperation with a Latvian friend of mine. Last week we went to schools to make bracelets celebrating Latvian 100 years of independence (it was a pleasure to tell children everywhere that Poland is only seven days older). And I do hope many more events and projects comes along. A circus workshop? Sure! A performance in the Culture Center? Easy! Perhaps writing articles for the Siguldas volunteers website? I will definitely fit them all in somewhere in between weekly travels, visits to neighbouring countries, sightseeing, and hanging out within our group of volunteers and with my new Latvian friends.
I’m living in a magical world where a single word turns into reality. All you need is to have initiative, an idea and you can do what you want wherever you want. Such a state of matter is something I have never experienced outside the framework of EVS. But it is a skill you practise. I am confident that after seven months in the project I’ll go back to Poland richer of a set personality traits I would have never gained elsewhere. I will make this my reality wherever I go.