Volunteering Stories: Back home – by Eldar

Eldar has volunteered with us in the project Citizens of the World, in January and February. He is back home but he has shared some info with us, from an early ex-volunteer perspective.

When I was about to start my volunteering in Romania entirely involuntarily I built a lot of expectations. I went to this adventure with a wish to expand my borders and educate myself in intercultural context. Romania was a right choice as I take a responsibility to say that in general Belarusians know about Romania not more than Romanians know about our country. Do you understand what I mean? There were so many openings awaiting for me.

I started my EVS in January just after Christmas holidays. From the first days I and other new volunteers were being integrated in a daily life by both organization and volunteers who had been staying in Baia Mare for a few months. I saw a connection between them and we were accepted. We formed this volunteering community. I wonder whether someone wanted us to feel there at home! I remember our get-together evenings, cooking the national food of our countries, sharing stories, music, getting closer to each other. Such a mix of cultures and personalities at that place in the north of Romania!

I began to implement project activities and could realize how I was changing during the time working with children, learning more about their needs and situation (them being a Roma minority). I was able to see where they live and who they are. With our each new meeting I felt the children were happier to see us. So were we! That changed me, made me richer – that’s to say I did expand my borders. Where else could I get such an experience? I shared Belarusian issues and represented my country with care. I was learning about Belarus from the colleagues-volunteers, workers of the hosting organization in different ways, from living in the other country. I learned about their countries and Romania also. We did a good teamwork together: we planned activities and public events from scratch, we started and finished them, but we never stopped our projects. We were exploring Baia Mare, travelling, skiing, getting into troubles and out of them together. We were all ‘Citizens of the World’.

I want to say that EVS is even more than volunteering. It’s more at that time when your friends come to visit you and get inspired by your experience and stories… More at that time when you travel to places you might not have better opportunity to visit again. More when you travel outside Romania and can hear one saying to another ‘noapte bună’. More when you understand that some time you want to come back, that there’re people you will be waiting for hosting in your homeland… When something touches you.

Getting back to Belarus I am still feeling I am somehow in the project. That shows a strong connection to that context and everything happened during my volunteering. Now I need to take a time for reflection. For sure, those were two months of the wonderful adventure filling me with new meetings, experiences, challenges and something personal. Entirely involuntarily this experience did fully leave up to my expectations. I wish I could do it again… This speaks volumes!

The volunteer is hosted by Team for Youth Association in a joint project with Office of Initiatives Promotions  from Minsk, Belarus, on a two-month European Voluntary Service project. The content of this testimonial does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. The responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article rests entirely with the author.