Hello, dear reader! My name is Ayten and I am from Azerbaijan. I am an EVS volunteer in Cracow and I would like to share with you brief information about what EVS teaches me.
Being an EVS volunteer teaches me great experience of working with children with disabilities. I work in a Special Education School # 11 in Cracow. I am responsible of taking an active part in daily activities, conducting artistic and educational workshops for children, organizing motion games and occasional cross-cultural events. I am also responsible of helping children for daily activities of living such as feeding, cleaning and etc. Although this is my first experience with disabilities, I did not only learn, at the same time, I enjoyed a lot so far.
There is a mutual learning environment in the school. While I try to improve my Polish language skills through daily communication with my students and teachers, at the same time, teachers try to learn English through communication with me and private English language lessons that I organize.
I do not limit myself to implement duties that are expected from me as a volunteer. I also try to fully participate in the process and learn as much as I can. Therefore, I take part in Makaton sign language classes that are organized by teachers three times in a week and some other workshops such as First Aid, Tobii eye tracking device or AAC communication tools, online applications, games and other type of activities for kids. I should emphasize that there is no ?competition? among teachers, but ?sharing? and they are always open to help each other including volunteers to improve their skills continuously.
Photo 1: Christmas Eve ( Wigilia)
As an EVS volunteer, I have also many possibilities to organize different projects or participate in different community development activities. For example, we organized ?Write for Rights? campaign for the political prisoners in Azerbaijan by the support and help of Amnesty International group in Cracow. I had a speech about human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan and we sent thirteen letters to the president of Azerbaijan.
Photo 2: Amnesty International with French guests
Photo 3: Amnesty International Cracow
Being an EVS volunteer, I have met a lot of people from different parts of the world, such as from Brazil to Vietnam and I have made very close friendships. The best example is the teachers from the school that I volunteer. We do not only have teacher and volunteer relations, but at the same time we are very close friends. They included me into their friendship circle, they are always open to listen, support and help me whenever I need. In that school everybody is very supportive to each other and they are like a big family and I feel like I am a part of it.
I would like to give an example. I have been in a camp for a week with my teacher, her family and her friends with disable adult people in a small village near Cracow. They organize such type of camps at least twice in a year during holidays and they meet once in each month in order to support and help disable people. And I was very happy to be a part of such group and to experience such kind and warm atmosphere there.
I would say that EVS is one of the best places for socializing and improving language skills. Here I met many Erasmus students, Erasmus+ and other volunteers, expats, tourists, and etc. It is not only a good chance to build my own friendship circle in which I can do some fun activities, trips, at the same time, meeting a lot of people helped me to increase my understanding of European people and culture.
Photo 4: Dresden Trip
Photo 5: Berlin Trip with my friend Marie
- Cultural exchange
EVS is also good opportunity for cultural exchange. During my EVS I have been promoting Azerbaijani culture through presentations, cooking days, at the same time, I have been learning about polish culture for the last eight months. I organized ?Azerbaijani day? and ?Cooking day? in my school and participated in celebration of polish holidays such as Dzień Niepodległości (Independence day), Wigilia (Christmas Eve), Wielkanoc (Easter), Wszystkich Świętych (All Saints day) and etc. Here are some pictures:
Photo 6: National Polish Dance in Warsaw
Photo 7.1-7.2: Natalia and Wiktor, in the process of baking Azeri Qutab
Photo 8: Kuba painiting
Photo 9: My beautiful girl Natalia is playing a Christmas Carol
Photo 10: My lovely boys Wiktor and Kuba just having fun before Christmas celebration
Photo 11: Azeri Day
Finally, I would like to emphasize that EVS is a place for personal and professional development for young people. Of course, nothing is flawless in the world, there will be some difficulties as well. This is life! 😉 This is what my EVS experience teaches me. Especially for the people who wants just leave the home and start new adventures in a different part of the world. You will create your own adventures, they will not come to you while you are waiting and doing nothing. The most importantly, if you are in the search of freedom, I would say that EVS is a right place for you to start. Believe me, you will feel freedom, you will taste freedom and you will breath freedom!!!