2 EVS Placements in Belgium

Primary school De Appeltuin

(1-st Project)

Native City: Leuven

 

Activities and mission of the organization:

De Appeltuin is one of the 40 Freinet Schools in Flanders. The Freinet Pedagogical concept is part of the larger pedagogical project of Community Education in Flanders. Its aim is the total development of a person, with attention for the optimal development for each child personally. De Appeltuin is a kindergarten and primary school.

The aims of the school are:

  • to have a constant attention for natural learning, based on the experiences and world of interest of the child, keeping in mind the established development goals and school
  • to work together, based on cooperative and democratic consultation instead of one sided Children are one of the three stakeholder groups in our school. This way, we want to stimulate independency in children.
  • to experiment and learn-by-doing instead of applying rules and regulations, because the learning effect is much larger when a child can convert self-discovered material into new
  • to work usefully and Working useless in a school leads to following without thinking and a lack of satisfaction.

The groups of children are structured in a way that there are always 2 age groups together. This stimulates that older children learn from the younger ones and the other way around.

There is a lot a thematic approach – so called projects – especially in the kindergarten. Their kids can explore together different themes that are of interest in their world. In primary school, these projects are larger and more elaborated in time and space. The learning area of ‘world orientation’ is treated in these projects.

 

Sector of the organization: children – non-formal education

 

Location of the project: The school is located in the center of Leuven, at 20 min. walk from the train station. Leuven is one of the most popular cities in Flanders for students. It is one of the oldest university cities of Belgium and has a wide range of cultural and social activities. Students from all over Belgium and Europe live here during the academic year. Leuven has a very rich history, which can be seen in the many historical buildings and sites. Leuven has a small center but counts several parts, which are nearby and are more quiet and green.

Office environment:

De Appeltuin has a staff team of 23 people, which includes kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers, pedagogical support team, after care, administrative staff, coordinator,…

Another important factor in this school is the involvement of parents and thematic working groups within school the education of the children. This can be in the classroom (projects, practical work,..), class responsible, working groups in the school (reading support, logistics, music, communication,..).

 

Benefit from the volunteer:

The school sees project education as the important working method. Having an international volunteer could in this context be a perfect challenge for everyone involved to apply this form of non-formal education. The presence and cooperation of a foreign volunteer can mean a serious extra value in our school. One of our goals is to form our children to be active citizens with respect for every other human being, for nature and for other cultures.

 

Tasks of the volunteer:

The tasks of the volunteer will evolve from practical help in the classroom to the setting up of a specific project. The velocity of this evolution will depend on the growing language and practical skills of the volunteer. The volunteer will be assisting in classes of toddlers or primary school children, depending on the level of Dutch.

 

The volunteer will:

  • Assist in mainly one classroom (depending on the language level). This can be individual guidance of children who can’t follow the lessons as good as the It can also be to assist when the teacher is using a method where they need assistance, for example when they want to do an educational game to teach them something; then the volunteer can help in preparing this and guide it. It can also be to help with the classes when they are drawing, making something creative, or doing work-shops, such as drama and theatre or teaching them new songs.
  • Take part in out-door activities with the children: go swimming with them, excursions, thematical workshops,… For example, going to the forest in autumn to learn about this season, going to a museum and they have interactive workshops, going to a theatre or a movie and later in class having a de-briefing about it, going to the seaside and learn about the typical vegetation there, going for a week somewhere together…
  • Next to that, the volunteer will organize own activities and workshops, depending on the interests of the For example, to set up a project about her home country, to teach the children about the differences and similarities between cultures. A lot of time of the volunteer’s work will go to this aspect.

 

Working hours during a normal day:

The volunteer will do voluntarily work for 5 days a week from 9AM until 4PM (Wednesday only in the morning). School holidays are free.

 

Specific skills volunteer should have:

For De Appeltuin motivation and interest in the themes the project is working with, namely education and children, is the biggest criteria. The learning possibilities of the volunteer are also important. Since it is needed in the work with children, the volunteer needs to like to work with children and should have interest in pedagogical methods. We strongly advise volunteers to read about the Freinet-philosophy and educational methods before arrival.

 

Level of language skills: intermediate English and very motivated to learn Dutch

 

 Volunteer’s benefit:

The volunteer will be as an extra in the team of the teachers of the school. She/he will get the opportunity to assist in different classrooms (mainly one, but some others) and to get a close look on the educational tools and methods of a ‘Freinetschool’. The principles of the Freinet-philosophy are related to ‘non-formal education’ and ‘experimental learning’. This means that the children have to work on a variety of projects with different themes.

 

Steinerschool De Sterrendaalders

(2-nd Project)

Native City: Lier

 

Activities and mission of the organization:

Education for children between 2,5 and 6 years old (kindergarden) and children between 6-12 years old (primary school) based on the Steiner pedagogy. The Steiner pedagogy is focused on the personal and social development of children in a well-balanced and free environment. We provide education for children, irrespective of race, descent or philosophical convictions.

 

Sector of the organization:

Non-formal education – children

 

Location of the project:

The project is located in Lier at the border of the city center. The school is located next to a residential area.

 

Office environment: approx. 18 teachers

 

Tasks of the volunteer:

We are looking for a volunteer to be part of our staff in the kindergarten (21/2-6 years) and more specifically in the first class of kindergarten (21/2-3 years old). The volunteer will be actively involved during her/his whole stay. The tasks will all be related to the follow-up and supervision of the children during their school day. The following tasks will certainly have to be performed:

 

  • taking care of the preschoolers getting (un)dressed for the outdoor activities (we do a lot of outdoor activities even under bad weather conditions – in order to be able to do so, we’ve rain&mud equipement that our smallest children gradually need to learn to put on themselves, this is one of the skills they learn in the first class)

 

  • Recess duty: We have moments of free playing and directed playing, during both moments not only supervision but also observation of the development of the children is an important task of our staff. If interested it could be a possibility for the volunteer to prepare some directed play moments (with coaching of the class teacher)
  • Helping to prepare the fruit and soup meals: Healthy food is part of our education, Therefore our day starts with a fruit plate where the fruit is brought by the children and then peeled and shared between the pupils. 3 times a week we also prepare soup with fresh organic vegetables in our kindergarten classes together with the children.
  • Preparing and supervising the after lunch nap: We’re enthousiastic about the positive impact of a resting/sleeping moment for our kindergartners. Therefore until 6 years old they all have a moment of rest on their mattresses after lunch.

 

The volunteer could start a personal project under coaching of the class teacher. Eg of a possible project: Prepare and supervise a directed play moment where his/her culture is integrated in order to be able to share and transmit some of this to the pupils. This could be on a regular base (e.g. weekly), in order to create interaction and interest with the children towards this specific intercultural playmoment.

 

Working hours during a normal day:

 

The volunteer will work 5 days a week from 8.15 till 15.30. Monday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon is free. School-holidays are free.

 

Specific skills volunteer should have:

 

  • open minded
  • patient with children
  • motivation and determination to learn more
  • communicative and sociable
  • interest in Steiner philosophy: we advise volunteers to read more about the Steiner education method before arrival

 

Level of language skills: intermediate English and strong motivation to learn Dutch

Volunteer’s benefit:

You’ll get to know a vivid community of teachers, parents and children that will give you the space to experience our culture. With the contacts you make at our project, you’ll deepen your knowledge about our culture and our country also outside the workplace.

Dave’s EVS Adventures in Malaga

dave

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes, you may just find what you need”, Mick Jagger.

Have you noticed that we always rush not to lose time? Wish to be more was always a desire for “us” which I guess is the main factor that humanity always gets better and developed on any present to compare to any past and for even better future. Maybe that’s why we are called human “race”.

I am a volunteer in Spain from Armenia for one year in a beautiful city called Malaga.
It’s a historical city with a history of 2087 years, yep, almost as much as the capital of Armenia, just a bit younger. To compare to the place from where I come it is more hot so you can probably associate it as “Malaga is the younger hot sister of Yerevan”.

My occupation sounds like “assistant of the president of the NGO” which involves quite diverse responsibilities some of them I never faced in my life before. But no one ever said that life is easy so I am quite getting used to it especially with the desire to learn and experience new skills. Just in this case I don’t have other choices and, to be honest, it makes me more motivated.

It has been already two months that I am experiencing this new chapter of my life and I let me publicly announce about my excitements how interesting it is becoming day by day.

Intercultural experience is always amazing if you are not afraid of changes. 21th century is full of sources to theoretical knowledge about different cultures and mentalities of seven billion people living around us. But looking at a good picture of pie and tasting it by your own are never the same, right?

Practically feeling the various aspects of any culture only shapes vision about the world and Spain is not an exception. Differences are almost everywhere: food, dances, music, hospitality etc.

But I prefer to let you know about my best experience yet: meeting people. They are warm and friendly, communicative and helpful. I am volunteering in the organization called Arrabal-Aid and in that peaceful kingdom (it is really like a big family) I could never imagine that I will have so much kindness and support. As soon as I arrived my mentor Julio, as a professional guitar player sacrificed pretty much of his time to help me with choosing a guitar and we end up with a decision to buy it from Amazon and another amazing college whose name is Ali ordered it for me. Before that I never even new how to hold one so thanks to them I am also developing some extra skills besides my obligations. I already got lucky enough to have a trusty friend who is not from the organization but still is always kind to me with any support or help.

mde

Thanks to Javier I can feel myself as a local inhabitant even if still I don’t have a resident-cart. Punctuality of Spain reminds me my country so I will not talk about experiencing anything new but just will add that it is the reason why me and some of my other new friend from abroad don’t have a resident cart yet or they just got it (There is a hope that at the beginning of this month all of the volunteers will finally have it). Spanish people are very communicative even if they are not shining with English language skills but don’t run with conclusions because I feel my fault here as well as my Spanish language skills are even worse. So yes, I am also trying to improve one more skill which definitely will be beneficial and for me and for people around me. Spanish people have really big patience and Juan from my organization is a great example for that. During first days I bothered him so much about issues which are not anyhow connected with work in Arrabal-Aid and although he is always busy he always helped me as well, I even think sometimes he even regretted for the waste of his time on my concerns but still, he supported for which I can not be not thankful.

Here are around twenty people like me who decided to do EVS in Spain who are from Armenia, Ukraine, Portugal, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, France, Germany etc. Besides the program we have pretty much in common as well: kindness, educated, tolerance, goal oriented skills, motivated about Spanish culture and my favorite one – all of them also understand fluent English. Logically they were the first people with whom I was trying to explore the new city of my life and time made us really good pals and now we are living like a huge family with too many sisters and brother

But in this case some people may wonder “Does it true that you can learn also about other cultures besides Spanish” and I would say “That is definitely more than true” because now we even cook together.


dsc_0363Arrabal-Aid
is the organization which invited me to do my EVS in Malaga. The Organization is bigger than the average imagination about Non Governmental Organization. The main goal of organization Is to help and develop their community with suggesting different possibilities.

With diverse ways they are fighting against discrimination, unemployment, luck of education and/or information etc. Staff members all are unique and experienced in different fields. In our office building Arrabal-Aid invites volunteers to participate in classes of economics, computer science, management, English learning etc. outside of the building they are organizing events, workshops, training-courses, conferences and more just to rise awareness of people who want to know, learn and improve themselves. I am usually trying to think about new projects and events to implement for community and also I am always ready to help them with anything that they may need.

According to working agreement we are supported with several good comforts. We have a good health insurance conditions, nice big flat with everything necessary to live in, organization takes care of covering the main utilities costs, we are provided with free bus-using possibility. The only complain is that why the time is going so fast.

20161016_190935Describing our free time, I will try to be very short. It is usually full of adventures. Visiting nearby cities and beaches, exploring ancient places, museums (on Sunday the entrance is for free), and of course night life is Malaga is worth to try.

To be hones before applying I was full of doubts. Well doubts are always following us when we have luck of information about something.  I created so much expectations before coming, some of them happened to be true, the rest, well, almost true, or nothing like true.  I still have doubts about so much things, even about tomorrow. Will it be like I want or something strangely unexpected will happen (I am also experiencing this, not the worst feeling I might mention, but not the best as well) . Bust still, let’s be positive about upcoming opportunities and run to catch them. Of course we can’t know for sure where exactly we might end up. But maybe it is better than being stuck in one place. And maybe we should try because time is always limited? Maybe that’s why we always run to not lose a time or an opportunity. Maybe that’s why we want so much to experience our dreams, to be more in our present, better than in any past for even better in our future. Maybe that’s why we are called human “race”. Who knows? Maybe Mr. Jagger?
Anyways, let’s keep trying…

 

French Volunteer’s EVS Experience in Armenia

Marilou Albero came to Armenian Progressive Youth in Armenia from France to do a 6 months long European Voluntary Service (EVS). We have asked her about her experience with Armenia and her EVS life. Marilou says that she decided to participate in an EVS because she thinks it is a good way to be involved in a project and to discover a new country. “Concerning Armenia though”, she says, “I didn’t really choose to go to specifically Armenia, it was more the opportunity. But I guess I was really curious about this region of the world”.

Marilou’s role in the Armenian Progressive Youth organisation was focused on communication work. She was, among others, updating the website. During the training courses she was responsible for visibility at social medias, for an example to post information about the activities on Facebook. “I learnt many professional skills related to communication skills during my time with Armenian Progressive Youth, for an example how to take good pictures and how to write an article.” When coming to Armenia, she recalls, a big obstacle was the language, but the cultural shock was probably bigger than the language problems. “For me the main difficulties were some of the traditional values of this country. As a “french feminist girl” it was difficult to learn about the differences of rights for girls and LGBT people in Armenia, compared to what I was used to. I never realized that before. Maybe, I was a bit naive.”

Marilou explains that she did not know much about European programs before she came to Armenian Progressive Youth. Because of this, she says, it took her almost three months to understand that the organisation was doing and how it was working. “I think, if I could do one thing differently, I would have studies the organisation before arriving. In this way I maybe could have understood my role better, and have taken more initiatives”. Concerning support, she says that she had everything she needed. “Armenian Progressive Youth and Armenia was very welcoming; I am very thankful for that”. Marilou received language courses like all volunteers enrolled in the EVS programs do. She says though, that learning Armenian in 6 months is not very realistic.

As for coming back to visit Armenia, Marilou already did. “I came back to Armenia 6 months after my volunteering as a participant in one of the trainings organized by Armenian Progressive Youth.” If Marilou could advise a future volunteer coming to Armenia, she says it would be to bring books. “It is almost impossible to find books in foreign languages in Yerevan.”

Interviewed and written by Edith and Tamara, 2 APY volunteers

Europe Day with APY and Young People

This year Armenian Progressive Youth joined the organization and the celebrations of the Europe Days in Armenia together with European Union in Armenia. In the frame of the celebrations APY organized manifold informative and engaging activities.

On June 5th, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO took part in the EU info fare that hosted current EU-funded projects, with a special emphasis on information and activities interesting for young people. APY organized and set up an info desk with brochures, videos and flyers explaining the aims, work, values and APY’s mission in Armenia. Throughout the event, a plethora of young people could come and learn more about the APY and Erasmus+ projects and also get to know the ways and opportunities to participate in various youth exchanges and training courses, as well as learn the conditions to become part of the APY as a volunteer.

To make the EU days in Yerevan even more fun and memorable, Armenian Progressive Youth volunteers in cooperation with the European Union in Armenia organized a spectacular concert that featured popular songs by legendary European singers and bands.  Also, we had a workshop where information about the opportunities that APY is giving to young people in Armenia was presented.

In APY we highly believe in the importance of a non-formal education in a development of one’s perception of the world and self. Thus, APY organized a video contest “Europe 4 Youth” to encourage youth to share and present their ideas in an engaging, creative and yet very informative manner. As a result, 19 years old Arpine Kirakosyan became the winner of the contest. In the video, Arpine shares her viewpoint of Europe. She has chosen 4 important areas where Armenia meets Europe. For her beautiful work, Arpine wins a week long fully paid educational trip to one of the EU countries.

The European Union sees youth as a vital force for change and prosperity, as the most important resource for the growth and development of the world in its every aspect. Armenian Progressive Youth fully supports and beliefs in this idea. Hence, the NGO is working very hard to give Armenian youth the best opportunities for self development and education possible. APY’s active participation in the European Days of 2016 was extremely beneficial for the young people, as now many enthusiastic and bright people learned about the opportunities and the environment that APY can offer and will have a chance to become a part of a large APY family and grow as an individual and an active citizen.