EVS “Rasarit” Project Volunteers in Action!

11.06.2013

Starting in February 2013, AMURTEL received its first European Voluntary Service (EVS) Volunteers through the Youth in Action Programme. The Programme provides young europeans between 18-30 years old with the opportunity to go abroad and take part in a long-term (12 months) or short term (4-6 months) project in a country of their choice in Europe. The volunteers receive pocket money and are assured food and accomodations, as well as 90% of their roundtrip travel costs.

AMURTEL decided to get involved in the programme as it is a sustainable, win-win way to host longer term volunteers. The organization is currently accredited as a coordinating, sending and host organization. In February and March we 5 EVS volunteers arrived to assist in our projects in Bucharest and Panatau: Jana from Germany, Alexandra from the UK and Elisa from Milano, Italy, came to work in the Bucharest Kindergardens. Beatrice and Francesco, both from Italy, came to work in Panatau at the Fountain of Hope and Familia AMURTEL.

The children from the AMURTEL projects in Panatau were very welcoming and curious about the new volunteers, for them it means that someone outside of Romania wants to be their friend. The extra help was especially welcomed by the Fountain of Hope staff as the number of children enrolled in the afterschool center has been growing. Soon after their arrival they began planning a project to build a simple playground in the Fountain of Hope’s yard. The volunteers have been continually bringing in new, fresh and creative ideas. Moreover, all 5 volunteers decided to have a day where they will promote EVS in the high schools of Panatau and Patarlagele, and offer the opportunity for the young adolescents there to go abroad just as they did, by helping interested young people apply to projects, and write their CVs and motivation letters in English. They are also specifically planning to help two of the Vistara social integration young adults to go abroad this year for a short term project of their choice. They both showed keep interest in the idea and are already looking into projects and contacting NGO’s.

In Bucharest, the three girls are teaching their mother tongue to the children, using the holistic, playful approach of Neohumanist education. The children have one or two formal lessons per week, and everyday the volunteers assist the morning programme and interact with the children in their mother tongue. The volunteers were very surprised at the children’s ability to repeat everything and memorize the songs and games played in the classoom. They were impressed with how much and how quickly the children can absorb another language through play, storytelling and songs.

During the multicultural week in the kindergardens, the volunteers led the curriculum planning process as they discussed and presented their own home countries. While one of the Sunrise kindergarten celebrated the UK and Italy, the other one organized a German festival. During this period, the children had the unique opportunity to gain an insiders perspective of these cultures, through the direct contact with someone coming from those countries. The volunteers shared games, songs, cooking and typical stories from their country of origin as well as authentic stories from their own childhood, instead of taking the common “touristic approach” to multicultural curriculum which focuses only on famous sights and attractions.

All of the volunteers are very happy to be in Romania, they have blended well within the AMURTEL team and the new energy they are bringing in will surely enrich our projects in a positive way.

Alexandra Tincu, 25 years old, UK

“Coming from a Romanian background I wanted to come here and learn what it’s like to live and work in Romania, especially with children. Neohumanist education is of great interest to me and I want to learn as much as I can in this experience.”

Beatrice Castella, 27 years old, Italy

Why EVS?

I needed to get involved in something new, something different. I was seeking a challenge, and embarked upon this adventure with an open heart and mind, with no expectations, just hope, soon to find that this would be a life changing experience – overwhelming at times, yet enriching and fullfilling.

Familia AMURTEL is a very special place, one which I will not easily forget. The young adults with whom i shared many moments with are a creative, eccentric and loving bunch. The staff are also warm hearted and kind, always supporting me throughout my stay.

Fountain of Hope, the after school center in Panatau, offers an innovative service to the children and families in the area whereby a vegetarian lunch is served followed by activities inherent to the Neohumanist approach to education.

Romania is a wonderful country, contrary to popular belief in western Europe, the countryside is picturesque while Bucharest is an eclectic and bustling capital.

Jana Johana Thenert, 19 years old, Germany

I was interested in trying out something different and exciting. The EVS program offers you a great opportunity to go abroad to explore a new culture, country and different lifestyle. It is a experience you will never forget. It shapes your live with self-confidence, intercultural awareness and many helpful competences. Bucarest is a very lively city with lots of beautiful things to see, you can meet for a coffee in one of the several bars at Lipscani or go for a walk in a nice park. The children in the kindergarten are so lovely and cute with the shine in their eyes.

Francesco Ghilotti, 28 years old, Italy

When they asked me, at the on-arrival training, to condense what I thought about my EVS project using two natural objects, I barely hesitated. I had already been working for over one month at the Fountain of Hope, and found a simple way to concretise my experience. I chose a small stone and a flower. Because it is a difficult project, hard and often frustrating. It is in this harshness, maybe, the proof of its solidity, of its “reality”. But it is also delicate, like a flower, like a flower beautiful and promising the eminent advent of something more colourful.

Two qualities, in reality, intertwined, like the two objects held together by a transparent piece of tape wound around them. Between those two realities, there is the continuous connecting flow, that offers the children a warm meal, my attempts to be understood, playing together, my attempts g to understand, trying to give them something, unavoidably learning from them. A yoga class surrealistically surrounded by screaming children, Catalin’s eyes, at first closed in a introverted nu pot, who finds out he can also shoot a bow, enormous in his hands. A process which does not ends every day at 4, when everybody goes home, but inevitibly continues to work inside ourselves.

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