What is European Voluntary Service? The first time I asked this question was more than two years ago.
A friend of mine told me about various opportunities with ERASMUS+ program to volunteer in Europe. Consequently, I started doing more research and realized that it was something I really want to do. It sounded like a perfect opportunity to expand my horizons and figure out what to do in the future. The only thing I knew for sure was that I want to work with youth. This helped me choose from thousands of projects on European Youth Portal. Nevertheless, after some motivation letters, the whole process for a while seemed futile. Luckily for me, just when I was about to lose hope, my friend sent me a project where the partner organization was APY. I immediately applied and I got to the next stage! Several interviews and offers to participate in projects followed. The one that I set my heart on was in Rzeszow, Poland with an organisation called INPRO.
I am not going to lie, I was both excited and anxious the month before the project was supposed to start. I signed up for living in Poland for the whole year. I was going there alone, not knowing anyone, having no clue what to expect. There were so many things that could have gone wrong… From the first day I arrived though, I instantly felt that I made the right decision choosing Rzeszow. I could not have imagined a warmer welcome from INPRO! After this great start, everyone continued to be so helpful, kind and do everything in their power to make us, EVS volunteers, feel at home. INPRO did accept us as like new family members. People there are wonderful, I like them a lot. They are very open-minded and doing awesome job. People out of the organization are also nice. Not everybody speaks English, but this was a good for me to practice the local language.
INPRO is based in a small city Rzeszow in the southeastern Poland. Initiatives of the INPRO Association focus primarily on the personal development and education of young people from Rzeszów and the Podkarpackie Province. Through their projects and workshops, they seek to reach people not only from other cultural backgrounds, but also to represent diversity in origin, age, and beliefs. Activities are aimed at realization outside formal educational programs of the highest quality. They create an international environment and provide space for individual development. In INPRO I was in charge of many events and workshops dedicated to young people living in the city related to human rights, hate speech, discrimination and intercurtural education. Apart of that I was doing administrative work, social media management, web editor and of course my personal project, I was teaching Russian language.
People that I am surrounded by are of the utmost importance for me. I am so glad to know that I have made friends that I can count on. Living far away from home, no matter how used to it you are, is never easy. Therefore, it is incredibly good to know that I found people to share my joy with and who will be there to support me when I need it.
Volunteering in INPRO is definitely one of the best decisions I have made so far. The experience is just invaluable! I couldn’t have anticipated in my wildest dreams how much I would grow to love people here, how much I wouldl learn and improve professionally. European Voluntary Service is an experience I will always be grateful for. I am very grateful for my sending and hosting organizations as well.
I would like to end this by encouraging you to give EVS a shot. If you’re thinking about it but you’re not completely convinced yet or it sounds too good to be true, I promise you it is not. It is true, the programme covers all your expenses (don’t expect any luxuries though) and the things you’ll learn and experiences you’ll have will likely change your view on life. You’ll feel so motivated to travel and meet more people and get to know other cultures.