I’m Ruslan. I come from Riga, capital city of Latvia (Letonia). I’m 21 years old. I study “Personnel Psychology and talent development”. I do it by distance learning at College of Business Administration in Riga, Latvia. I like going to the theater, dancing, hanging out (alone or with my friends), listening to music, photography and video, travelling and watching movies, specially the horror ones.
Do you know what European Voluntary Service (EVS) is? I’ll try to explain…
When I arrived here in Snagov, I realized that this volunteer work is close to the city (Snagov parish is located 34 kilometers from the capital city Bucharest). For a very long time, I’ve lived in the city and I haven’t been out of my beloved Riga. I’ve arrive during the Easter holidays (Easter). Because I was greeted by a large and wonderful family that I also became familiar with traditional cuisine. Also recommended for the football team I need to be a big fan. Here it was a difficult choice.
During the first week, I’ve travelled far away from the city. I’ve been in “Galati”, a city located in the region of Moldova. If you see it from the height, you’ll see that this city is separated by the beautiful and large river Danube and its Delta. In the right side is the wildlife and in the left side are the factories.
The apartment is wonderful and it has everything you need. Every morning I have a great opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and the amazing views.
The second place was the wonderful family of grandparents who live in rural areas and have already gone up the first hill, certainly not in the majority, but now a beautiful look to the countryside from the top. Very nicely.
My first activity in “A4ACTION” youth centre was a plastic vase painting. I began to familiarise with the local children who come to the youth center to write the school homework. The children are very responsible. Since I wasn’t yet ready for the Romanian language, I helped only with mathematics. I started to be known by the Mayor and councilors. I really think that here live very responsive and nice people. Yeah, all these things happened in the first week.
After some weeks I had the opportunity to participate in ONG festival in Bucharest. It was hard, because I didn’t knew a lot about EVS or the project I’m part of in #A4ACTION. But I tried to do my best. We played a lot of games and I met a lot of new people. I made many friends there.
In the 22nd of May, I took part in the “Arrival training”. I was really excited about it, because I was going to meet a lot of new people. I was the only one from Latvia. There were a lot of Spanish, Italian, Turkish and of course French people. They came from different places in Romania. Really, I’ve never met such a lot of people from different countries in the same place .This training is really important by the time you arrive and you need to participate. You’ll find information about the country in which you are hosted and about being a volunteer, for example, the “cultural shock” and as it was held in Bucharest we had time enough to do the tasks and discover the city. In this training, I was so happy when I meet Gris. She is from Estonia, my neighbours. She was always telling me the same joke, like always Estonians say about Latvians “Hey six fingers”. When the #ArrivalTraining finished we were upset and we didn’t want to come back. We wanted to spend time together. I feel them like my big family.
Of course I was happy to return to the Youth Center. We had and have a lot of great activities and methods that gave me the opportunity to know better the children. I met almost every local volunteer and they are great people and great friends, what is really important if you want to build teamwork.
The next big event was the “International children day” on the 1 of June. I was thinking how and what I can do, because I was just starting my second month, and i thought I wasn’t ready to be part of big event. But we did it like a #team. The first part of day was about creativity workshops for children and I participated too. I like to work with kids. If you like it, you can do more than a lot. I still don’t remember when the journalist took me the interview. Really! I don’t remember! But I really liked. The children were happy and the adults too.
In the second part of the day we had a treasure hunt in Snagov, I had a team with 5-7 children, from them only one was able to speak English. Because of this, I really was thinking on how can I participate in the game, but they are made their best to try to speak with me. It doesn’t matter if you have mistakes or not. You try and do. We scored a lot of points and that meant we understood each other. We didn’t take the first place, but I’m proud of my team and they are the best!
The summer already started and I began to discover more and more the Snagov area and to try to know the youth people from here. In the summer I every evening hang out with them and almost every day I met new people. Of course sometimes we had the language barrier, but that didn’t stop us.
In June I met the new international volunteer from Spain. She was a nice girl and she didn’t have any problem, but she didn’t like the place and she left the country after a couple of days.
I was disappointed, because she couldn’t be here for a long time. I started to think and I found myself in the same position, but I told myself “If I started, I need to finish”.
For me, the hardest point was to be far away from the city (civilization).
In June I started to make friends in Bucharest, I started to live in Bucharest. It was a little bit hard to manage the time. In the morning at home, then run to the Youth Center, then to Bucharest. In work days, it was perfect. I had that feeling that I do a lot job, because I couldn’t always sit at home. I’m too much of an energetic person. The Bucharest life lasted more than two months. This time was the best. In the youth center I started to help in each activity, to share my ideas, but I didn’t know how to create an activity, how to put it on the paper.
One day I received a lot of books (PDF) and I needed to read them. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to read. Really, I hate it. But here, it became a problem, I needed to create the activity for “summer day camp” and to write it on the paper. How? I can’t, really. Iuliana tried to explain, but I couldn’t understand. For me, it was something unbelievable. Later, one day at home I put music and I just started to write. I caught the idea that if I need to do something I don’t like or I don’t want, the answer is “music”. The first time, the result was not so good, but in this way, I learnt how to plan an activity and write it up. I’m proud of myself.
On July, I went to the big non-formal education methods festival “CONNECTOR 2016”.
I met my friends from #BAIAMARE, of course, they are from #France and they are so awesome. They made this festival funnier. I learnt what a “CODA” is (Context Oriented Dance Approach) a new dance style for me. I’ve never heard about this before. This week was full of new people for me. I also met new #EVS volunteers from #Cluj, almost everyone from #Spain. With them, I tried my methods and other methods too. The coach was amazing. Really, you need to meet her and just speak. You will understand why.
When #July started, in the youth center we had a lot of new activities, it was a little bit hard to adapt to the new schedule, but I did. In #July, I had my birthday and I received the most amazing gift in the world. The kids were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ for me in both languages (Romanian and English). I was surprised. I tried to learn the Romanian language, but it was difficult. Latvian language has almost nothing similar. Russian language has, but not a lot. I learnt more from people/friends, without them it will be not possible and, of course, I had a really good teacher, Alina. In #August, with the president and her friends we went to #GuraPortitei where I met Moldavians and they spoke #Russian. Yeah, I didn’t enjoy it, because of snakes, mosquitos and other staff. I’m a #city_boy and I hate this part of beach. I did it and I’m glad, but I don’t want to return. Too much staff that I don’t like and I can’t live with. Anyway, the place was been amazing and great.
When I came back, after some days #firstEVSvolunteer arrived. His name is #Nahuel. I was really excited, because I lived three months alone and I expected it will be more fun and not be so boring at home anymore. But it wasn’t. I was a little bit wrong. He is #quiet, but not a lot. But I can understand, he is far away from home. For him it was hard to adapt. Because I’m a crazy person, I like speaking a lot. Really a lot.
In #September I had an important #surgery. When I visited a doctor, he told me “You are lucky that you visited me on time. You have only 2mm until the brain artery and you could’ve got an infection”. Just imagine how will you feel?
Yeah, “I win the lucky ticket” like I say. Everything got good and thanks to that we have insurance, they covered my surgery. #September was a lazier month. One week I got sick and another one I worked from home.
The #third of #September I was in #Brasov at #MTE (Mid Term Evaluation Meeting) that was organized by #ERASMUS+ EVS program.You will not believe me, but I met the #French people from #BAIAMARE. I really met them everywhere. At this training we spoke more about the problems (what I didn’t had), the #YouthPass you have to write when you finish EVS in order to receive the document of the project and to prove what you had learnt.
Yeah, #Brasov it’s an amazing place, we were singing a lot of songs. I remember the best song we sang #Hallelujah
After that, I returned to Snagov, starting to work step-by-step and it was good. In October I meet the third #EVS volunteer. #Alberto, he is really friendly like everyone person from #Spain. I showed him the community where we live and the basic things. It was good. The next day I travelled to Italy for #vacation. The holidays were great, of course. I met the #ERASMUS students.
I liked to know more and more about the program differences and #life in other country than #Romania. Yeah, life in #Italy is great. When I came back, the children actually missed me and not only them. I started to create my own activity. #JUST_DANCE #WE_ARE_ENGAGED_IN_SPORTS #PREPARE_FOR_DANCE Yes, I started three activities to try to be more involved and to #broke my barrier of speaking in public. The first two activities were great, the target group was not a problem. But with “Prepare for dance” I waited and try to get youth people, but I got only three and we decide to cancel this activity.It was good that I had two more. With my colleagues I didn’t had the communication what I expected. We start to feel more tension between us. We just didn’t knower each other and this was the problem. One day we had a big fight, because we needed to go to the job, but we can’t arrange the time at the flat. We arrive on the youth center and Iuliana (project coordinator) felt that. We started to speak and the meeting converse became a fight. At some point we gave the opportunity to each other to manage this without her. From this moment on, we didn’t fight anymore.
I went on the second #vacation to my hometown, Riga, in #November but with one stop in Berlin. I met new friends and they gave me the opportunity to know better Germany. In the morning to go from center to airport I fell down on the metro and I lost the train. I arrived one hour before departure to Riga. The line for security was really full. I started to hear the Latvian language and I started to be really excited,about how many people I will meet from Latvia. I was happy that I went through the security controls and the plane was late, like always in #Ryanair. I arrived to Riga after half year and a lot of things changed. It was hard to adapt. But I was happy. I did what I wanted and everything was good. For Latvian population #November is a patriotic month.
After that I returned to #Romania with one stop in #Belgium. When the plane arrived to #Otopeni airport I felt more than in #Riga. “I’m home”.
Here almost come #December, the time of #Christmas. We needed to do a “party” on the youth center and I’ve been Iuliana’ secret Santa. it was hard to choose a gift for her, because I work everyday. I chose and I didn’t have big problems with that. The #Spanish colleagues left the #Romania for vacation. One was going home and the other one to #my hometown #Riga. I was surprised about that.
I was alone in the flat, like at the beginning. But after two days I understood I miss them, without them nothing was the same as before. I knew when they will come and I waited for them. Yeah, I love #Spain.
At #Christmas evening I went to the #church here in #Snagov with #Iuliana and her #family. Her family is really open and I felt like I know them for a very long time. So I spend #Christmas with them. It was amazing to see how #Romanians celebrate #Christmas in #Romania. I liked it. One week I try to recover myself and Iuliana and some volunteers and her friends just came to see a movie, play games and eat pizza. Really nobody in Riga does something like that with me.
I spend New year’s eve with almost the same company. Lot of #selfie with Elena, lots of #Romanian traditional #dance, etc.
Like that I spend 8 months of 2016…
On #January we worked at home because here the snow came out and everything was closed. But yeah, this is the #first #month of #2017, but the #last #month of European Voluntary Service (EVS).
We had the last training course of facilitation. This training course gave me a lot of information that I can use for my future.
Starting to prepare myself to come back to Riga, now I see things differently than when I came here to #Romania. #YouthPass is almost ready, I let the #activity to another local #volunteer who can continue it after me. Thanks #Bianca.
Thank you very much for this great opportunity to be here in Snagov, Romania:
Sending organization “Baltic Regional Fund”, Ginta Salmina
Hosting organization Youth Center “A4Action”, Iuliana Adriana Pavel, Alina Beauclercq, Diana Vestineanu (Mentor)
European Voluntary Service (EVS) stage in Ghermanesti, Romania (01.05.2016-31.01.2017) Ruslan Stutko