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Personal Projects

One of the benefits of EVS(ESC) is the possibility to organize and implement your personal projects.

You can organize an event, language courses, training in order to share your knowledge and skills with others.

You can decide on your audience. It can be either only your colleagues or an open event that you can promote to attract more participants/students.

Before starting my EVS I had several ideas for my personal projects. However, throughout these months I have eliminated some of them and replaced with other projects that could be more useful at that time.

Currently, I’m implementing 3 projects that are focused on the study of languages.

The first one is basic Academic Writing courses that I have organized for other volunteers that are motivated to shift their writing skills. In these courses, my goal is to share my experience of writing effective Motivation Letter, Cover Letter, and writing of essays.

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The second project that we have recently started is about teaching the Russian language. These courses were designed because of the motivation and wish of our colleagues to study Russian. Even though it is a little bit challenging for them to learn a totally different alphabet, they seem really enthusiastic about exceeding in this language.

 

Finally, the third one is the Italian Conversation Club. With the help of a young Italian girl who is passionate about working with foreigners, we are organizing Conversation Club once per week. We are not only discussing some topics but also learning new facts about Italian culture. This project is open to all foreigners that live in Faenza and want to improve their speaking.

 

Farida, Azerbaijan

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Travel Diary/ Emilia-Romagna

For the first time, I have visited Bologna with my friends from arrival training. The city of porticoes (a partially enclosed walkway) hosts around 80.000 students that make ⅓ of the city’s population. If it rains, don’t worry you can still walk in the city center through the corridors that are around 40 km in general.

 

There are a lot of shows being performed during the day in the main square, so you can enjoy some street art, observe the drawing technique of some artists, watch amusing balloon shows or listen to the diverse street music.

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I have accomplished my dream there and have visited Archiginnasio, which was the main building of the Bologna University.

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Brisighella is a little town not so far from Faenza where we had our first EVS team building. According to the elderly people that we were having Smartphone classes with, Brisighella is the best medieval town in Emilia Romagna region. It is located on the hills and there are 2 towers that are the main sightseeings of the town. Brisighella is a suitable place for doing hikes, picnics, paragliding and you can visit caves.

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Riccione is a commune in the province of Rimini. That city became touristic since the 19th century because rich bolognese people started to build there their villas. Benito Mussolini also had a villa there. As you can imagine the Adriatic coast of Northern Italy has a very beautiful coast which is called Riviera Romagnola. We went there with hope to see a red sunset, but something went wrong with the weather and it was windy and cold. Fortunately, by the end of the day, it got better and at least we saw a pink horizon that pleased our eyes.

 

Parco Bucci is the biggest park in Faenza. There you can be in the peace of being surrounded by animals, a lot of plants and trees.

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Farida, Azerbaijan

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Travel Diary/ Campania

One of the benefits of doing EVS is getting 2 free days per month that you have the opportunity to collect and use whenever you want, but of course by coordinating with your hosting organization. Also, keep in mind that all Italian national holidays are considered for sure as free days. In this case, you get plenty of free time.

In my opinion, the best way to spend your free time abroad is traveling! It is insane not to use the possibility of diving into the local culture by exploring different cities. As you know, Faenza is located in Emilia Romagna region, very close to Bologna. Thanks to the awesome location of that city, I can easily travel around and also organize trips to other EU countries.

First, I would like to write about my travel experience here in Italy. The place that always attracted me in Italy was the Amalfi coast and Pompeii. As you know, thoughts have  huge power in our life. When I arrived Italy, I have received an invitation to my “Arrival Training” ( that is kind of induction organized by local National Agency to present and discuss the rights and duties of the EVS volunteers) which was taking place in Nola, Napoli very close to both Amalfi Coast and Pompeii.

Before I left Faenza for Napoli, I got a lot of warnings like being careful, you are going to the south, keep an eye on your belongings and try to come back safe and without being robbed. I remember my conversation with a lady at the train station, that was so concerned when I told that I’m traveling to Napoli. She advised not to hang my camera on my neck, but keep in my backpack and wear it on the front.

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Napoli

Shocked and a little bit frustrated by these precaution suggestions, yet full of motivation and energy, I took the train in the direction of south. Blessed by the warm weather and full of excitement, I have arrived Napoli. As I have mentioned above, my training was in Nola, a little town in the vicinity of Napoli. (If you want to know more about my arrival training check this post  arrival training )

During my arrival training, I have met amazing people and we have decided to stay together after the training for the weekend and see ancient Pompeii and marvelous Positano (Amalfi Coast). Dreams came true!

As Napoli was the best point for our stay, we have booked an apartment there and adventures have started. The first day we went to read an open book of Romanian civilization that has been buried as a result of Vesuvius eruption. While breathing in the history of the place that has been ruined as a result of lava, you feel the power of nature over yourself.

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Pompeii
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Ruins of Pompeii

 

 

Seeing in real the remains of people that were imprisoned in the ash impressed me. It was kind of a throwback to the moment of the volcano’s eruption, and it is left to your imagination to bring that moment in front of your eyes by observing the final poses of the Pompeii’s last residents. I got goosebumps while was trying to construct that moment in my mind. If you are an emotional person and good at empathy, maybe it’s better to avoid that vision. I couldn’t prevent my tears, even though it happened millions of decades ago ( in the year 79 A.D., to be concise). Even though that dragon was vivid from the Pompeii, I would like to climb it and see it in the closer distance. That motivates me to travel there again.

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Prisoners of the ash
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Amphitheatre of Pompeii

The second day we have visited the most romantic spot in Italy- Positano. The journey was a little bit uncomfortable because, as you can predict, we didn’t have a big budget, so we took the bus. Unfortunately, some passengers didn’t get seats. Guess, who was staying on feet for 2 hours. Yes, I can definitely tell that we weren’t the luckiest travelers that day. But, you know what? I have captured amazing pictures with my eyes and saved them in mind and I’m ready to bear that inconvenience just to see them again in reality. Believe me, the pictures that I made on my camera might have been better, if I didn’t stare at that cost with the open mouse for a long time. I think, capturing the moments is amazing, but truly feeling them through your existence is even more beautiful. I left a part of myself in Positano, I need to go back just to grab it.

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Positano

The last day of that trip was dedicated to Capri island. The journey itself was unforgettable. We took a ferry from Napoli and the weather was amazing. The light sea breeze was playing with my hair while the bright sun wasn’t allowing me to look at the seagulls that were flying over my head. Surrounded by the water of Tyrrhenian Sea, looking at the endless blue horizon, I have noticed grey clouds over the Capri Island when we were approaching the port. It was obvious that it was going to rain and it did. Still, I can consider that day unique. I mean, even rain couldn’t change the perception of the beauty that I saw there. Also, it has stopped very soon. I don’t want to write cliche information about that place that you can read literally everywhere just by googling it. Let me share with you a story of a young, beautiful and elegant lady that I have met in the local shop. I was talking in Russian with my friend when she approached us. We found out that she was from Ukraine, so it’s not surprising that she could understand our conversation and try to help us with some stuff related to our trip to Anacapri( There are 2 towns on that island: Capri and Anacapri). She has shared with us her experience there and described the job that she is doing in a hotel. That kind of job might seem to a lot of people as a something degrading, but she seemed peaceful and satisfied with the life that she was having in that fabulous island. After that conversation, I got a question that made me think and still I can’t find an answer. Here it is: “ What is more important for your happiness, your location or the job you do?” or maybe none of them. Don’t hesitate to share with me your opinion on that topic! I would like to be back there, to search for the answer:)

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Capri
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Capri

Finally, my impressions of Napoli were very positive. As I wrote above, our accommodation was in Napoli itself. That’s why every day we could get a little slice of that city. I have tried there the best pizza in Italy. The city makes you feel alive every second because they drive crazily and you should be very careful. Dirt and trashes were in every corner of the city, in the main streets, but I loved it a lot. It’s my favorite city in Italy for now. In addition, I managed to break the stereotype about thieves. If you travel there one day and forget your camera in a shop, don’t worry too much. Of course, it’s a good idea not to leave it anywhere, but in case if it happens, there are chances that it will be waiting for you safely. That incident made me break the stereotype about unsafety of that city and appreciate the kindness and care of the locals.

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Napoli

 

To conclude, I think that Campania is the most magnificent region of Italy (at least for now, as I haven’t seen all of them).

Farida, Azerbaijan

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Does EVS(European Voluntary Service) finish? What is ESC( European Solidarity Corps)?

Even though EVS has been replaced by ESC recently, as a representative of the EVS’s last generation, I would like to share with you its short description.

EVS (European Voluntary Service) is an international volunteering program funded by the European Commission. All young people aged between 18 and 30 years may apply for international voluntary service in an organization or in a public body in Europe, Africa, Asia or South America for a period ranging from 2 to 12 months. It provides the reimbursement of travel(visa) expenses and complete coverage of the costs of food and accommodation for the international volunteer, the pocket money to cover the daily needs of the volunteer and language courses.

European Voluntary Service is a unique opportunity to acquire new skills and abilities useful for your personal and professional growth. It is an amazing chance to have inner travel and discover new skills and talents of yourself. Be open to understanding the lifestyle, culture, food preferences of other people. Also, to build friendships with people that have totally different backgrounds, and enlarge your world view. EVS is about diving into the new culture, and coming out as a totally different person!

I want to notice that, still on the EVS portal, there are some opportunities, you can check them on europeanvoluntaryservice and try yourself. Don’t miss the last chance to join the EVS family:)

Now, I would like to give you some guidelines about the European Solidarity Corps.

European Solidarity Corps

What is ESC?

ESC is a new European Union initiative which provides young people with different opportunities to contribute to the different social projects that are being implemented by a great variety of NGO’s and other institutions.

What are the requirements for the participants?

In order to be able to participate in the projects offered in the ESC, you need to be 17 years old to be eligible to create an account in the ESC pool, but you can be involved in the projects and start your actual participation when you become 18 years old. Also, you have to be a citizen of the EU or one of the partner countries. However, you should keep in mind that the organizations will need you to have some skills according to the demands of their projects.

What are the aims of the ESC?

The European Solidarity Corps brings together young people offers an inspiring and empowering experience for young people who want to help, learn and develop.

What are the conditions of voluntary work?

ESC offers two options: occupational activities and voluntary work.

We will focus mostly on conditions of voluntary work.

Volunteers are provided with the accommodation, all utilities paid, travel tickets from their home country to the project’s location and back, medical insurance and a small amount of money that is called pocket money to cover their daily needs. (Basically, everything is similar to EVS conditions)

You can check the list of participating countries through that link  europeansolidaritycorps

Areas of activities and types of work that may be required by the hosting organizations:

Culture;

International Mobility;

Sports;

Social care for the elderly, the disabled and the immigrants;

Art;

Leisure;

Media and communications;

Environmental protection and education;

Rural development and development cooperation.

For instance, my project is called “Learning by Teaching”

In order to make you understand fully how the process may look like in reality, I want to present you the list of activities that I have done during the first 6 months of my EVS:

 1. Smartphone Classes for elderly people in a beautiful town called Brisighella

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2. English Activities at Scuola Europa for 10-11 years old children

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3. Writing “Think out of the box” Youth Exchange
4. Having conversations in English at PiGreco(my hosting organization) with students from different age groups
5. Blogging on WordPress about my EVS experience
6. SMM of the official Instagram page of the PiGreco
7. Learning Italian at Scuola Strocchi( learning the language of the country where you are having your EVS is also part of your duties, and is being counted as working hours)
8. Organization of the art exhibition( that was an only one-day amazing activity that taught a lot about the organization of the art exhibitions)

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9. Study Smart (Dopo Scuola, helping children with their homework, as I don’t speak Italian well, my main focus is to support them with English)

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10. Coaching ( Constant reflection/report of our thoughts, feelings through numerous coaching activities that are being facilitated by our coordinators)
11. Selection of the participants for the Youth Exchanges

To conclude, if you are interested in doing voluntary work, go to the europeansolidaritycorps , create an account and search for the opportunities!

Farida, Azerbaijan

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How to find ESC (EVS) programs?

We are the representatives of the last generation of the EVS. This program has been replaced by the European Solidarity Corps which offers the same conditions and you should meet the same requirements. That’s why I will share my own experience.

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How you should search for the suitable program?

There are 2 ways of finding the program that fits your skills, interests and personal goals.

  1. You should find out which organizations have the accreditation of receiving and sending organization for that program in your country. After, you need to follow their posts and calls for participants for the new ESC opportunities. Once you come across the opportunity that is suitable for you, you can just fill the application and wait for the rest of the process to happen. If you pass successfully the first step, you will be invited for the interview and if you are accepted there may be a second interview with your hosting organization. ( Sometimes one of these steps may be enough, but in my case, I had also skype meeting with my receiving organization). To conclude, the first option to find the suitable program is to follow the posts of the local NGOs accredited as a sending organization for ESC.
  2. The second way of finding ESC opportunities is to search in the portal  https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en of the program and apply directly for the project without having a sending organization. In case if you are selected, the important part of the task will be completed. After that, you can contact one of the accredited local organizations to start a collaboration with your receiving organization. Sometimes the second way is more efficient for finding the project that meets your personal goals like the location, duties and the main focus of the project.

I found my EVS project by using the first way. I saw the application shared on the website of NAYORA (The National Assembly of Youth Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan), filled it, passed first selection part and was invited for the interview. After having a successful interview we had a video call with my hosting organization and discussed the project.

Before leaving for the EVS, I had preparation training where I have signed the contract and was explained my rights and duties in details.

Farida, Azerbaijan

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Why I quit my job and decided to do EVS?

Since our birth, we are defined to go through social institutions like kindergarten, school, university and then get a job to become adults, get married, get our own kids and dedicate ourselves to them and spend our lives like this just because that is what usually people do.

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During the 4th year of my Bachelor, I was waking up every day with a new decision about my future after graduation from the University. I had different options like doing my masters degree abroad which was very difficult to decide on program and country, start doing a career( because we all are afraid to end up being no one, that we hurry with becoming anyone) or taking a year gap to find myself and find out which path should I follow. Depressed by the uncertainty of the future, as someone who has never been to Europe I felt pressure about picking the place of my studies randomly and didn’t want to shoot into the darkness. I have been in a constant search of myself determined to find what can take my breath away while I’m doing it. Meanwhile, I have started getting prepared for the IELTS exam to get my language certificate and complete the documents in order to be able to apply for different universities located in the various parts of the world.

While I was busy with finishing my preparation for language assessment exam and search for masters I was offered a job at Formula 1. Blessed by that opportunity which was my dream job place, I flew to that place and after the successful interview was employed. Struggling with exams and finishing the University, I was enjoying my first professional work experience at one of the countries prominent international events operations company. However, it was a temporary contract for 4 months and I was aware of the uncertainty that was waiting for me, so I was in search again and applied for the different projects of AESEC and just randomly was informed about EVS in Italy by NAYORA and have decided to apply for it also. Forgetting it absolutely, I moved to another company after the expiry of my contract at Formula 1. I got good references for my performance, therefore, I was easily given a good job opportunity and was employed again in a little time. Obsessed with that success and kind of proud of myself I moved to another place to work.

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Even though everything was perfect, I didn’t feel myself in the right place. Days were passing, I was growing in my duties, but  I wasn’t satisfied with my decision. To start the job, I already rejected some international projects. Desperate and again occupied by agony, I felt the necessity of breaking the social chain that is put in our heads throughout our trip in all social institutions and by our families. After trying all the options that I had, and taking actions for all of them, I found out what I really want. By excluding things that I didn’t want doing I finally managed to organize the order of my values. While I was trying to gain inner peace and a balance in my life, I received an email from Italy after almost 9 months telling that the project is accepted and they are waiting for me. At that very moment, not thinking about the results of my decision, full of excitement the next day I went to my company and talked about quitting my job.

Farida, Azerbaijan

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