EVS Stories: You don’t Need a Reason to Help People

Gamze, Ilyas and Buket are 3 volunteers from Turkey hosted by Team for Youth Association, in the “Time to EVS” project – a two months European Voluntary Service, financed by the European Commission, through the Erasmus Plus Program. They wanted to share some of their feelings and experiences trough international volunteering. To do this they conceived a ”three people” interview with questions and answers about their stay in Baia Mare.

Buket (B): What is T4UTH for you?

Gamze (G):   T4UTH became my second family, my Romanian family. When I arrived, I met people from the association who gave me all the necessary things to live good and accommodate quickly in this new place: flat, phone card, stuff for activities and many others. But, they also provided useful information to enjoy Romania and language lesson to communicate with other people.

B: If you have the possibility to take a long term EVS, will you choose Romania again?

G: Although this experience was so good for me, If I will choose a long term EVS, maybe I would like to go in a different country for discovering some other cultures as well.

B: What kind of people did you meet in your project?

G: I met different kind of people both for nationality and personality. For example, in the association there are volunteers from France, Italy, Nepal and Turkey. They have a different culture and I noticed that Latin people have a lot of energy and they help me in several situations, like improving my English.

B: You will leave after two weeks. How do you feel about this?

G: First of all I feel useful and very happy that I could help people in need. I think this experience gave me the opportunity to see all kinds of people and to adapt to their needs. Always when I will remember these two months, I will smile and also feel a little bit sad and nostalgic for having to leave.

B: What was your work about?

G: I was teaching the children in Caritas and in Romani Center, basic English words and we played together creative games. In addition, I helped them to understand the importance of personal cleaning.

B : Could you say some unforgettable memories in your EVS life?

G:  At Romani Center, the children don’t know English, but they wanted to explain some things to me. Finally we learned, together, a Christmas song. It was very difficult but also very funny. And they presented this song with a dance at their local party.

B: What did you do before coming to Romania?

G:  I searched the special places in Romania. I discovered some touristic attractions like the Statue of Atatürk (Father of Turks) in Bucharest and Castle of Bran (Dracula Castle) in Braşov. I also watched a movie about Dracula. In addition, the most important thing for me: I checked the weather because I knew it is very cold in wintertime. When I arrived in Baia Mare I was shocked because in my city back home I have never seen snow before.

B: What kind of project did you do for local people ?

G: Teaching English and creative games, Christmas activities: origami, song, dance, a Turkish event (presentation about Turkey, traditional foods and dance).

B: What was a challenge for you during your EVS stage ?

G: My project included working with children. I learnt how to communicate with children, and especially with children with special needs. It was my first experience with children that need special attention, and for sure it was a challenge, but one that I responded very positively. I improved my abilities of talking and understanding them.

B: Could you say three things about your personal development ?

G: Team working: we always worked in pairs or groups in preparing the activities and the games and I can say I can adapt in groups and accept the ideas of other people. Cultural Exchange: life in EVS is a cultural exchange, you give and you receive, and you go home with a great sense of involvement. Social skills: I learnt how to communicate better with every person around me, which means adapting to their behavior and accepting their ideas.

B: What did you miss the most ?

G: My schedule included so much activities, so I did not have so much time for missing something. Also I wanted to think only about my project. But certainly Turkish Tea is an important aspect of my lifestyle and I missed it. And our mentor gave to me the surprise which was Turkish tea, so I was happy after a while.

Gamze: How many different people have you met in Romania in terms of nationality?

İlyas (I): This is hard question for me because I met a lot of people here from different countries. I met Thibault, Chloé, Baptiste, Laura – they are from France. Aladine from Reunion Island also Belinda from New Caledonia. Ana and Maria from Portugal. Tejan from Nepal. Tim from Germany. Rafa from Spain. Martina from Italy. Also I met a lot of friends from on arrival training. I can say… 75 people from 20 different Countries.

G: What is the most cheapest and most expensive things that you bought in Romania?

İ: The cheapest thing is using the internet and most expensive things are medicines.

G: What foods and beverage in Romania do you like?

İ: I tried and liked sarmale, mamaliga, papanasi and I drink palinka.

G: How many cities did you visit in the country?

İ: I visited four cities here: Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Brașov and Bucharest.

G: What do you think local people?

İ: I think the people from Maramures  are looking happy. I didn’t see any fight, noise, un-polite things. I saw a lot of times they are looking friendly and curious for speak with you.

G: Which place is beautiful for you in Romania? Also in Baia Mare?

İ: My opinion the beautiful places in Romania are: Peles Castle and Turda (salt mine) and in Baia Mare Stephan’s Tower.

G: What is the difference between Romanian and Turkish people in your opinion?

İ: When you walk on the road the drivers are respectful to pedestrians. Unfortunately it is not like this in Turkey. I think people here don’t like to drink black tea.But we are drinking black tea every morning and evening. At the same time they all seem to be patient and respectful.

G: Could you say three interesting things in daily Romanian life that are different from your lifestyle?

İ: The first one: there are so many different stores, like second hand stores and amanet. We do not have that kind of stores in Turkey. The second thing the doors: they are opening just to the outside.We open the doors generally to inside. The third one: traffic system it is different from Turkey.

G: Did you hear any interesting facts about Romania?

İ: Yes I heard there is a cemetery where it is written how the people died. This is really interesting and I will visit.

G: How do you feel about Christmas?

İ: I will see first time Christmas celebrations in my life. We are celebrating just New Year. We don’t celebrate Christmas because we are Muslim.

İlyas: What do you think, why people want to volunteer?

Buket (B): This is a difficult question for me. Actually I don’t know about other people. But I’m volunteer because if you are teacher, you can not work with youth, if you are engineer, you can not work with children… but if you are volunteer, you  meet with  different people of all ages. Nevertheless, I talk about why I’m volunteer: I love active life playing with kids and getting involved in the local community.

İ: Have you attended any volunteering organization before?

B: My volunteering story started when I started to university in 2013. I participated in two University clubs. I was in Youth Trainer Club for one year and Psychological Counseling and Guidance Club for one year. I participated in Turkey Education Volunteer Foundation (TEGV). It was very good because, although I learned a lot about children, I hadn’t got practice. TEGV provided me it. And than I participated in Tuğba Çanşalı – Learning Design and I’m still volunteering in it. They showed me creative games about learning and we learned more about Erasmus+ , youth strategy, cooperation etc. I love it there because I think we are a family.

İ: Do you know international volunteer day?

B: Yes – 5th of December. Every youth organization celebrates this day.

İ:  Can you tell five differences between Turkey and Europe?

B: In My EVS life, I saw that we are different about learning English. In Turkey I think learning English is difficult. We need to practice lot of. Second, we need visa for going in other country. Third, we have got different ID cards: we haven’t got a CIP inside the ID. Fourth, we have got just one surname. This is different with İtaly. Fifth, we have  a lot of food for breakfast.

İ: How can we increase volunteering activity in Turkey?

B: I really I don’t know. This is difficult question. But I think we need to communicate more a about opportunities.

İ: What do you think: which volunteering section is more developed in Turkey?

B: The disadvantaged children. And I can see a need for this. Normally every association should do preventive work. And I think reporting is very important. If they write reports about their work by and they share it with other association the quality will increase.

İ: If you would have a special power, what do you want to change in the world?

B: I want Everybody to be able to feel strong empathy. I think, with empathy can finish all of bad thing.

İ: Please tell us, if you know any volunteer associations in Turkey?

B: Because we have internet in our life. I follow some associations, foundations and NGO services pages on Facebook, İnstagram or Twitter. And I am interest in what to happening in Turkey. Also every Turkish university has got an Erasmus+ coordinator. If you need help, they can help you. Some universities are EVS hosting organizations. For example Hacettepe University, Uludağ University, Arel University and If you want do EVS, you can apply directly to these universities. You don’t need to be student in there.

İ: What are the aims of the volunteering, what is your opinion about this?

B: Volunteering includes an personal existential purpose. We are searching for answers to questions like ‘What can I do for world?”. I think this usually exists inside of every human.

İ: Do you thinks Turkish citizens contribute to peace and development through volunteering?

B: I don’t think so. Maybe yes, maybe no. It remains to be seen.