What now? – I ruminated desperately some rather-long-time ago when I had come to such point in my life were a lot of is already gained and again something very essential is unbearably missing in my life. I searched for it, searched for, but did not find. Did not know what I search for, only knew that it is not in the sports hall, neither is in the nature, in personal development lectures, nor in cinema or restaurants visits, parties, hilarity and even not in the sadness, it is not in a travel, nor in friends, love, at work, – it is nowhere. Everything mentioned gave only a little bit joy, sometimes granted small victories, gave the satisfaction for a while and there was no fulfillment and there was no continuation, however. Like, does not like, like, does not like, meh…

Such way my story of volunteers work began – still long before it truly started. The day came in which all there was so very so much over that the idea about the volunteering work that I did not really know anything about became as the final deliverance messenger with the slogan, ”Nothing worse would be possible!” Found the project, thanked, rejected hopes to be accepted… however, accepted; during four days announced to everybody, finalized last works, left the job, got out of the rented apartment, attended the last guitar class, loaded my luggage, said ‘goodbye’ to friends, bought travel tickets and was on my way. Surprisingly, but despite of the fact that during one blink I had liberated myself of what I was afraid of for too many years, there was such peace and faith I had never experienced before. Traveling by taxi, I tried to concentrate to my first at least purposeful live conversation with a coordinator, however my not so good English skills and the feeling of dizziness from the unpredicted fast changes were rather bad helpers. After the short-time silence with a dull smile I understood that it was the last sentence: ‘’there is a forest and a big, nice lake in our village … I, of course, do not know if you like lakes, waters“, it was meant for me. It is too late to answer now, thought to myself, and continued to smile dully and to watch through out the window. I did not wait too much out of the project – mainly, to have somewhere to live, to be able to relax from the lawyer`s job and environment that had enervated so much and to have some time to formulate myself, to deepen into myself, to dig deeper and to define: I AM… I got it and some more else…

This EVS stage gave me the possibility to improve my English skills, or it may be more precisely to say – the courage to speak and not to wait for that special moment when the answer is one of those some sentences that I can say and pronounce in grammatically correct English. I had also the possibility to touch a little bit other languages, to learn a couple of words, sentences, pronunciation. I learnt a lot about other cultures, other nations`s food, behavoiour and other habits, about rules, values, perceptions, customs, language, religion, art and a lot more else. I got to know that Romanians, not Gipsy people live in Romania, and those Romanians are really wonderful people – helpful, nice, kind, opened. So many smiles, so much warmth! I got to know that more modest demands against the life and poverty as we call it in Latvia and elsewhere give much more freedom and that the choice to which side to weigh the scales in own life is in own hands. One of these mentioned Romanians said – better with an empty belly, but I do what I like. I would like not to forget how much I believe in his moto and wish him also not to forget it.

The voluntary work showed me that without what I had done until now, I am also able to do a lot more. It was something new for me that I am able to make different nice things with my hands, that I am a little bit able to act with colors, brushes and pencils, this job made me to remember how well I deal with children and learnt me this and that new about myself.

For the time of this project, I got a wonderful apartment, project members. I really enjoyed every time when we all sat at the same table, ate or discussed big life issues, went for a walk or watched movies. I enjoyed moments when we were one for another and one with another. For a moment, I felt that they are my family, my advance. I just only cannot touch, hug and say all that is on my heart… however, I would like to say how much . and that I am very thankful to the life and destiny that I met them. Each of them – such as they are. Really.

I also met many other people, and many of them, met only for a short time, however, allowed to ‘threw another view’ to the World, values, gave really essential, wonderful experience and memories.

In addition to all its goals, amidst them – the investment in the society, I deem, the voluntary work is also the search for big answers and search for self in a voluntier. And if you are lucky with people around you, as it was in my case, then this voluntary work experience together with exploration of self, life and own transformation provides also great memories and the strength to move forward. During these six month I met both the joy and the tears, both the passion and love, and the hypocrisy. I met the wisdom, stupidity, also lies, domination, acceptance, forgiving, and more and more. I met my own truth, people and environment around me.

I liked to be a Latvian in a foreign country, and I enjoyed that this country was Romania. No new place, no new person makes you the new one YOU, however it is a possibility to meet yourself again and to do differently what you would like to see differently.

The new Chapter was written in me here, the courage of other type that I had only looked for, and something very essenatial that different correctness standards had taken away of me until now – the freedom! I am not at the end, however this defenitely introduced essential changes for the continuation which I choose to follow hand by hand with the “freedom” and the “truth”. This is the moment I finish writing, but this is not the end of the story of my voluntier`s job.

Do I suggest to go for voluntier`s job? Definitely! And right at the moment when something inside you or out of your life makes you to do so! This will definitely be the right moment.

This year I wintered without a cocoon.
Good that winter in Romania wasn’t the harsh one.
Good thing there were other caterpillars without cocoon with me.
Half a year later, the transformation ended
And the butterflies flew.

Meanwhile, it hurt a little.
And the caterpillar gets confused all the time
About those who long ago already flied
And calmly wintering in the topsoil.

The wings grew, but there was no cocoon
And it quickly helped to get out of the situation.
Can I call myself an adult specimen now?
I’ll call myself imago.

And I’ll charm with one wing swing.
Everybody’s own lights and darkness around
It’s worse to live in the dark of the cocoon
In the comfort non-comfort area.

Need to open up.

I have witnessed few volunteering caterpillars in Latvia and have seen how they transform into butterflies. That is why I always wanted to join a volunteering project. In the time I was changing into a butterfly, I have gained many life lessons and a lot of experience in very short amount of time. That is why I’m sharing my story. While I was in high school I sent in applications to different organizations and was very disappointed after there were no positive replies. After graduation I applied for universities, but never got to study where I originally wanted to. I always knew that I want to learn and do something that brings me joy and I can do it with sparks in my eyes. It was sad that I didn’t get to study where I wanted to and had to settle for something that I wouldn’t really enjoy. My cousin and his wife saw my struggles and how sad I was at that time and tried to help me by asking Līga who works at studio “BaMbuss” if there are any projects that I could join. I didn’t care about the country it would take me to, the length of it or how many people will participate in it, I just wanted to go somewhere away. Few days later I received a letter from Iuliana, it said that I will be a part of Romanian “ShapeUp” project. This project is about teaching young people using non-formal education methods. Now we are at the finish line for this project and now I know for sure what are my interests for my future profession. There is a assumption that after High school you must go to university because only with a university degree you can be successful in life. But now I know that I must do what I love and no one will tell me otherwise.

I could not say that my impact on society was extremely high, but I hope that some people learned something from me too. I was there when Pierre made his first fishing rod and tried fishing. Timour had Latvian language lessons, and sometimes I was one of the teachers. In project I was that Latgalian girl who knows how to right say word “cat” in Latvian. In the mornings I teached Belgians how to eat tuna breads, pickled cucumbers, salad even if these foods did not taste like bread with chocolate cream or cookies. Also I was that weird person who chooses eat hotdog with ketchup and mustard or that person who thinks that bananas in Romania tastes quite well. Sometimes I was homesick. Speaking about project itself, kids who joined in upcycling practices learned creativity and many other useful things. We were really serious with this lesson, as we planned how efficiently materials and time given to us was used, so kids would really learn and could create something that they could show off to their friends and parents, and be proud of their creation. For french classes we also tried to think of interesting and fun ways to learn the language and show the kids that you can also learn something by having fun.

I think that volunteer work is the best experience for the volunteering people themselves. For these last 6 months I’ve gotten enormous amount of experience and filled my bag of life with a lot of unexpected things, learned to love myself and accept myself for who I am. I have experienced many situations, that have made me think that I don’t deserve something or that I’m not good enough to achieve anything. I have always been very humble and have tried not to express my opinion loudly, because I always thought that either way it would not be heard or accepted. I am still fighting with the same feeling but I am very happy that everyone in this project was teacher for me and help me a lot throughout this journey of me becoming a better person or a person who I am.

Flatmates taught me to hug in the morning and ask friends how are they feeling, be more open to myself and others. I taught myself to handle and understand problems between me and my family and between me and my friends. Learned to dig deeper into the heart of the conflict and try to find a solution to problems that have left very deep scars. I try to understand people motives of their attitude or actions, so I do with mine as well. Also I am trying to not take anything personal. I learned to miss my close ones more, as well as appreciate every little, pretty things at home in Latvia. I learned to be better with my money, so after buying something to eat there was a little bit left for some treats – sider or orange, sometimes chocolate. Learned to find and catch amazing views and moments, sadly more with my eyes than with a camera for everyone else to see. A life lesson will be not forget to filling up the fridge for christmas, because shops may be closed and 3 day old pasta and meat salad may end pretty quickly. I will be able to order croissant and bubble water in France, it doesn’t matter that I speak with Liege accent. I will now know the taste of pálinka and my nose will recognize the smell of sarmales, as my taste buds will recognize polenta. In this period of time I got to understand many things. Such as private life can be not so private at times and that you can hurt someone without even knowing it and they will ask: “How could you?”. Rye bread is not as dark here as it is in Latvia, there is a deficit of buckwheat and krabsticks, and you can’t find Tupla chocolate bars in store shelves. For me a discovery was that there people say “before not after” and that means warn 3 minutes before something. Learned that even if you are being yourself, people will think that you are trying to be something that you are not, but either way people will think what they want to think. Also the best way to learn a language is by going to the shop.

From what I’ve seen I can assure that Romania and its people have their own charm and there everything makes me fall in love even more. Romanians often say that they don’t like their country, but at the same time patriotism is seen on every corner, be it a fence painted in flag colors, or flags that are seen everywhere. Hospital personnel walk around in crocs are very polite and care about everyone and try to help in any way possible, with sandwiches, water and sweets if they can’t help with any medical questions. Taxi drivers sometimes want to earn a bit more and sometimes they don’t know that a english speaking person could know average prices and fastest routes and they don’t need to talk about added expenses for tyre wear and that bus ticket would be the same price. Here you just need to go out on a run or put on a coat, as people will start greeting you from their cars. You can go out on a unexpected sunday trip in a horse carriage for free. No one cares that you don’t know Romanian, here people will just repeat their sentence louder and louder hoping that maybe you will understand them.

Some of these things and lessons may be funny, someone may have known them for long time, but I can assure that for me it was something new and never seen before. Up until now I had never seen or hadn’t experienced even half of what EVS taught me and made me see. To be honest, not EVS, but the people with who I met during the project. In Romania I found a new family where some of the members had very important role in my life and it’s sad that we may never even eat dinner together or even see each other ather the project ends. I’m thankful that I’m a person that goes through goodbyes easily and doesn’t feel sad about what’s happened, but is thankful for the experience what it gave me and people that I met. This story is about going out of your comfort zone and that the usual expectancies from other people are not your obligation. Volunteer work has a different impact as well, you can find new friends, contact with many interesting people from all around Europe and even around the world, travel for free and get to know other cultures living in certain countries and interacting with its people. You can go through the winter in better weather and extend your spring.

I decided to do a Erasmus project because It was a moment in my life where I had to make a choice. I just finished high school and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as far as studies go. I then decided to go abroad, so I can get more time in order to decide what to do and also to improve my english level as well as discovering a new culture and new things. So it’s for this reason that the first november, I was at the Charleroi’s airport to spend 6 mouth of my live in Romania. I decided to go to the project of A4Action because it was the only project that respect my expectations. I wanted to have the possibility to work with kids and to go back in Belgium before that the school year starts again.

The first month was very fast. The communication was a little difficult in first because it was difficult for me to speak in english. However, the feeling with the other volunteer was directly nice and Timour, the other belgian volunteer helped me when I had some problem with my english. During the first week, we were 4: two latvians and two belgians. I found more than correct but the only problem was that we just had one bathroom with the only toilet inside for 5 because a niew latvian came to join us. After some days we started own work, me and Timour we had to do 6 french lessons per week. The lessons were pretty well. I just needed some time to acclimate to the teacher’s life but after some lessons it was already much better and easier for me.

The second month was one of the best. In first, we have had our first meeting with others volunteers coming from differents countries and associations. This meeting was very nice. It allowed us to meet news volunteers, to share with them their experiences, their jobs and to have their opinions about their first month, their motivations handle that their feelings until this moment of the project. In addition to making new acquaintances, this project helped us to know more about the administratif. During this december mouth, I had the possibility to the romanian customs for Christmas. It was the first time that I celebrated Christmas offside Belgium but it was very nice and interesting to celebrate it with some people of A4Action. For the work, we started to write own project. We met Adi, who introduced us to the progress to follow to can realise this project. I didn’t very like to write this project because I knew that I will never do it even if this one will accept by the National Agency, so it was difficult for me to find the necessary motivation to do it.

January and february were a lot alike. During the first week of january, we went to Cyprus with three others volunteers. I think that a project of volunteering give you also this freedom the travel around the world and not only in country where you work. I find this very and this give the opportunity to discover new culture, to make new friends and this all around the world. So yes, if you do this kind of project, you have to travel. After this week in Cyprus, a kind of routine was installed. I had my french lesson and I wrote my project. I finish this writing. It was for me very nice because I didn’t like this. However, like I had easier to teach the children, I started to enjoy more this and I noticed that I learned of this moment when I had more difficult and that I still to learn of me because of the kids. We start also to have some conflict we the president of the association but we can also learn of that and acquire news competences.My friends came also and it was nice to see some relatives after three month. That gave me motivation and you can see also that your friends and your family are very important when you wasn’t with them for a long time.

The March month was a month of news things. We changed the way of to work. Now we do the lesson with one latvian girls and teach the child alone with her. They brought some news ideas and news games. The children, the latvian and me very loved this and the lessons were niecer yet. This forced me also to change the way how I work and to put new challenge. I started also a personal project about belgian comics it a nice way to show my culture to the children and to do a things like I want and by myself. I started also to go High school to promote the volunteering. It was nice to a the possibility to explain at teenagers what we do even if the most of the time this one don’t really speak in english.

The april mouth was also one of the best. I got a second meeting with the other volunteer. We saw again some people that we already met and new to meet some new persons. This was nice to saw how evolved the project of everyone and to have some news feelings of other volunteer. The activities were less interestings that the first and even sometimes boring but I was very happy to have to opportunity to discover all of the volunteers.After this I did a event about the belgian culture. I was proud to explain my culture at Romanian and maybe to give them the envy to discover Belgium. This is also a part of volunteering to give the chance at the community where you live to learn more about your culture and your country.

At the moment when I write this story, we are in the last month of this project and even if it was not all the time easy or nice I am very happy for doing it.I think that project changed myself in a lot of meaningful ways for example I became more independent, handle every things by myself without the help of my parents, it made me acquire new competences that I didn’t had earlier which will probably help me a lot in the foreseeable future. I also hope I was able to make an impact on the children of this community by helping them discover a new language and improve their knowledge on Belgian comics. I also hope I made some teenagers keen on starting a volunteer “career” which would help them discovering new countries, new cultures and probably change their lives. Going into a EVS project give me the opportunity to discover a new culture, a new country, new people all of that without paying a dime since it’s subsidised by the European Union. Without forgetting possibilities to improve my language skills (especially in English).I’m pretty sure each volunteer helped me along the way to be a better teacher, each in their own way gave me constructive criticisms and support to accomplish my goals. I am very happy to have the possibility to meet them. I want to say them thank you to support me during this 6 months. I will never forget them.