EVS Stories: Who’s a hero for you?

We asked our international volunteers who their hero is in life, and why? Do they have a role model that they follow or would like to become, or do they have special qualities that they are looking for in normal people? Here is some of their ideas:

Jorge M. E. :

If I would have to think of someone who is a role-model for me as a person, it would be my uncle Mariano. He works as a doctor and he is a father of seven children. Since I was young, I looked at him as to a person who I would like to be in the future. It is because I like his personality, his way of thinking, how he manages his family (it is very complicated, knowing that there are nine members in the family), and because he never gives up when he has a problem. He is a father who likes to speak with his children when they did something or when something is wrong instead of just punishing them. He manages these things in a calm way and is always very respectful towards them, and for me is a very good example, because I used to work with children and I could see that there are many parents who don’t manage the problems with their children in this way. I think he is a lovely and sensitive person. Also he is a person who knows to admit his mistakes and takes every opportunity to improve as a person.
Some years ago he had a serious health issue and although he has recovered, it still affects him nowadays. I can see him suffering a lot, because he is a very active person and he almost can not walk, but with his energy and his strong character he passed over this. Nowadays he has a better quality of life. I really admire him for being a husband, father, uncle, to sum up, as a human being.

Juste M.:

My Heroes are my parents. They have been together for almost 40 years. For me it’s something magical to see their partnership and how they manage all problems in life. In general, Mom and Dad are very different persons with their own personal opinions, wishes and expectations but they are equal partners in life. Together they have created an amazing family. The secret of my parents’ relationship and life is respect.  I’m glad to have opportunity to learn a lot from them.

Rosa L.:

I do not have a superhero that already exists in reality or any work of fiction, but I have an idea of who I could be if I got rid of so many of my flaws, and that person would have many attributes that are commonly associated with superheroes. For example, the most important trait of a superhero is bravery. I have known for a long time that I want to be a lot braver than I am now, but I have not found a way to overcome my cowardice yet. The activities in my project helped me a bit, as I am now more confident when speaking in public, but I am still not nearly as courageous as I want to be. For a superhero, discretion is also important, and I am much too open about personal things. Finally, a superhero has to choose very carefully who to trust, and I would not even know how to do that. In short, I am very far away from being a superhero, but I try to get closer.

Sarah P.:

When people think of superheroes, they often think of people who draw a lot of attention to themselves. They fight openly, make a lot of noise and sometimes even destroy things (all for a good cause, of course). Then after that, everyone congratulates them. But for me, the real superheroes are the ones who work quietly in the background and don’t do it for the congratulations. They try to change people’s lives just because they can, and they don’t make a huge fuss about it.
One person that really fits this description was a man that I got to know as Mr. Qavi. He was born in India, and discovered his love for books in his early childhood. He was lucky to receive a great education and moved to England to work. Later, he chose Palestine to be his home for his retirement, which is where I was lucky to meet him. Besides acting like the most cliche British gentleman out of a movie, randomly reciting poems and inviting us for Indian food at his house, he also paid the tuition fees for hundreds of Palestinian students. He explained that education was what gave him the chance to have a good life, so he wants these young people who suffer from the conflict to also have that chance. The way he spoke about this left a great impression on me. Sadly, Mr. Qavi passed away a couple of weeks ago, but I am sure that everyone of “his” students, who showed up at his funeral, will remember him as their hero.

Inma C. S.:

My hero… I’ve been thinking so much about this, but I don’t think I have a real hero in my life. Of course there are a lot of people who are important for me, and they are models in different parts of my life (also my sister wanted me to write this about her). But… I can’t choose someone for this role.

So I’m going to talk about a fictional character that was very important for me in my teenage years (and I still love her so much ^^). And this character is… Mafalda!

Mafalda is a little girl in Quino’s comics. She is very clever and critical, I really wanted to be like her. Why? She was always questioning everything in the world, giving a different point of view. And I’m happy thinking that she was a positive influence in the current me.

Skaiste P.:

Hero for me is a person or character who inspires. He or she doesn’t have to be from my field to do it, because features are what make miracles happen. And you can apply them to any situation needed. So, I have a lot of heroes.

First of them is my mum, because she has taught me self-respect. It is one of the most important things for a human being. Because in order to feel good one consciously or unconsciously needs to feel respected. And I have always seen my mother to be respected by other people as a professional, colleague, friend, daughter, wife, and a human being and respected her as a mum.

Other things which are essential nowadays is persistence and belief in yourself. If you want to achieve something, you have to work on it. And the process may not be easy, you may be losing, but there is always a hope until a match or race is not finished. In this case, I have Lithuanian sportsmen and sportswomen to inspire me. When a task looks impossible for me, I always remember two events, old ones, but so powerful, that I am sure, that I will remember them all my life. One of them happened in 2010, when the Lithuanian golden U-18 generation (my generation, what is even more inspiring) won a semifinal against Serbia, although they were losing all the game. It was only 3:47 left when they started to win the points back. They were losing by 9 points and it looked like the game and the hopes for gold were probably lost, but the players still had it. (Actually, later they said they got inspired by fans, so they just played trying to do their best, without thinking about wining or losing). So, they got 10 points and they won. This team won all the titles possible before and after! The other person who inspires me a lot is a pentathlon athlete: Laura Asadauskaite-Zadneprovskiene. Once, being in the 19th place before the last round, an event of shooting and running, she managed to win the championship. These rounds are the most important, but your previous position is also very important, because the lower position you had, the later you start the event. So, although she started 19 seconds later than the then-leader, she became the winner. The only reason these people reached their goals, was that they just didn’t think about a possible fail and just gave everything they could to succeed at the moment. That’s what I am trying to do every day and consider the only way to success.

Although sometimes it may look like you don’t have enough to achieve your great goals, it is not true! I have a great example from my hometown Prienai, which has only over 8000 inhabitants. It is Vytautas, a basketball team. It looked like they had nothing special to surprise by, because their budget was not big enough and they couldn’t allow themselves to buy the best players (actually, they are that good that only NBA and the best Euroleague clubs can afford themselves to have them). So, when we won some cups playing against champion teams and they became third in the national championship, everyone was shocked and even started talking about Prienai as a phenomena. And the secret was a dedicated couch who let the players to improvise and show their best and the players, who wanted to prove that they already were or still were worth it. And they did, because one of them was taken to the national team and it was the first time ever, when a player was taken not from the ones playing abroad or the two most important and richest clubs of Lithuania, Žalgiris and Lietuvos rytas. Theirs strengths were to be brave and creative enough to show their best.

The last of the heroes I talk about today is Beyonce, a world-famous singer. For me, she is an example of having it all. Beyonce is brilliant in her field – singing, a feminist, standing for her ideas, an equal partner, a warm personality and a person who enjoys life, she created by her hard work. What’s how I would like to become at some point of my life – the sooner, the better. (Working on it ;D)

These are the lessons I have learnt from my heroes. I hope that you also have yours – people who inspire you when you need it.  But the most important is to dare to be your own hero – in other words, a person you would like to be. And it may lead you to become someone else’s hero. But it is just a side effect – your lead must be natural – you have to live your life and enjoy it. And then don’t be surprised if one day you hear: “I would like to achieve what you have achieved in your life”, “I would like to be (like) you”.

Skaiste and Juste (Lithuania), Rosa and Sarah (Austria), Jorge and Inma (Spain) are hosted in Baia Mare by Team for Youth Association, in the “IN4EVS” project, an European Voluntary Service financed by the European Commission through the Erasmus Plus Program.