Almost one year ago I started my ESC journey without any ideas that it is one of the best decisions in my life. Completing my Bachelor studies, I wanted to get long-term international experience in the project that was interesting for me.  I have participated in the short-term EVS before but to volunteer one year abroad meant going out from my comfort zone. Despite of all, I decided to take the challenge that let me spend unforgettable year in Poland.

My team and the organization

When I arrived to Katowice all volunteers came to meet me and helped to settle in the flat. I was very lucky to have such a friendly team of youngsters from Italy, Spain and Ukraine. Working together, we found out so many about each other’s cultures, lifestyle, mentality, national food and just about personalities. It also helped me to review my conceptions and be more open-minded. 

The Bona Fides organization supported me during all phases of my project, starting with the visa application. We had weekly team meetings with our coordinator to settle goals and plans and make a reflection of experience.  I like that we were encouraged to share experience and knowledge and our initiatives were always supported. With their help and patience, I organized few workshops and even learned how to write youth projects. 

    The project and activities

Many people ask me: «what does it mean to be a volunteer? And what do you actually do?»

 First of all, I had the main project –Ukrainian community organizing.  Together with another volunteer from my team, we gathered Ukrainians who live in Katowice, planned and organized integration events. Except this, I had various interesting activities: carried out English speaking club, worked with children, volunteered in local events. My favorite one was conducting cultural presentations at school. I believe it helped youngsters to know about Ukrainian culture and history from its representatives and for me to learn how to organize interesting presentations with dancing, quizzes and teaching to write in Cyrillic. 

As an ESC volunteer, I participated in two trainings in Warsaw and in Torun. I met many interesting, creative and active people, who came from different countries to Poland from for the ESC. I am proud that we established friendship and communication that is strong until now. During these trainings, I became aware about importance of planning, evaluation of experience and practiced many non-formal education tools that I used with time in implementing of youth project. 

Katowice-international city. Every week I met new people from different countries. It is quite easy to do, as there are so many opportunities for that: multilanguage evenings, cultural events, speaking clubs and other activities involving international community. It has really developed urbanistic and green areas for recreation.

 This year was for me about discovery. New cultures, new people, new places in any possible moment. By meeting many polish people, my general impression is that they were polite, opened for communication and ready to help you learn Polish. I tried to travel within Poland to know more about its history and lifestyle discover its landscapes.  As there are mountains with breathtaking views not far from Katowice, I had an experience of hiking with friends, crossed borderline with Czech Republic on bicycle.  In addition, I would say that every city is very different, starting from Baltic coast Gdansk, cultural heritage as Krakow and Wroclaw but also small ancient towns, national parks surrounded by forests, villages that are reconstructed from 18 century…

Another amazing experience was to write and implement the Youth Exchange about media literacy together with my team. As for the first experience in carrying out Erasmus+ projects, it was quite challengeable to organize the program for 25 participants from five countries. In the end, we had great and useful time together and I was happy to notice self-growth.

I think every ESC story is unique but, at the same time has common things-this experience expended our horizons significally, gave competences, skills and friendship for the whole life. Once Erasmus-always Erasmus.