My name is Edyta. I have had the opportunity to spend the last four months in Kalmar, Sweden, where I carried out EVS in a table tennis club.
Well … to be honest, the Scandinavian countries have never been on my travel list of must-see places. But as they say: never say never. The aspect that determined my decision to participate in this project was what I would do there. Table tennis picked up a piece of my heart already when I was a little girl and accompanied me for almost my entire life. I decided that perhaps an attempt to taste Scandinavian culture in conjunction with the table tennis passion would bring about quite a positive result.
During the project, mostly I worked with children aged 8 – 12 years, teaching them the proper technique of table tennis, organizing games, supporting children during competitions by coaching, while drawing inspiration from the richer experience of trainers. From time to time, I also had the opportunity to participate in training for seniors and handicapped people.
What made this project to me?
Patience and consistency in action can work miracles.
For several years I have been taking care of the kids in the camps and so far I have not had any major problems with making contact with them. Here it turned out to be a huge problem because of the language barrier. Unfortunately, the children, who were attending the training, either did not speak English or were just ashamed and as soon as they saw me, they fled to the other end of the training hall, just not to speak with me. Such a game lasted about 1.5 months. But I realized that all you had to do was smile, give them time to get used to, and little by little the children’s attitude changed every day. It was an amazing experience to see how they develop, they become more confident, more open.
However, cooperation with the seniors and the handicap people reminded me how to enjoy the game and how to enjoy the smallest achievements, starting even from hitting the ball with a racket.
Lack of knowledge of the Swedish language, unfortunately, hindered communication with children or handicap people. But what interesting did I discover in that language?
The most important word in the Swedish dictionary is “Fika” – kind of coffee / tea break. No matter how busy you are, you have to find time for “Fika”. So you sit in a cafe, office, wherever, just with your friends, and you enjoy a delicious cofee or tea with something sweet like cinnamon rolls or cookies, in peace. Hurry? Inadvisable. So relax, take it easy.
Other interesting fact about Swedish dictionary: you will never find in there the expression “bad weather”. Rain? Snow? Sun? It does not matter what is happening behind the windows – the Swedes always bravely get their bikes and go in a certain direction. I watched with admiration the men in suits struggling with at least a four-inch snow.
Observing the Swedes, I understood why the Scandinavian countries are considered to be the happiest countries in Europe. Total slow life, a lot of physical activity and a lot of time spent in the fresh air (really fresh one).
The first sun at the end of February? It’s the perfect time for the first barbecue (according to Swedes).
Do you have any problem? No worries, it is time for Fika and we will discuss this problem and we will figure it out.
A lot of friends asked me: “And how is this Sweden? People are closed, aren’t they? ”
Ah these stereotypes. In fact, the Swedes have no open nature, but behind all this there is incredible kindness, helpfulness and positivity, you just have to give them a chance.
To sum up: Am I satisfied after the project? Do I recommend EVS? Would I go again?
Big 3 times YES.