Friday, June 1, 2007

Duncan's EVS adventure in Iceland continues...

2nd update from Duncan's EVS adventures in Iceland

It is now May and this is the second month of my stay in Iceland. So far it has been really hectic! The whole month is dedicated to training the EVS, who have come from all over Europe: Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, France, Scotland and Greece.

I finished April by taking part in a seminar based around immigration issues. Veraldavinir´s job was to organise this and make the participants feel welcome. Some lively discussions were created, but the group was able to have fun as well. Part of the seminar involved cleaning up the coastline next to the House of the President of Iceland (He wasn´t in!). We also involved some children from immigrant families and carried out an activity where they had to construct garbage animals.

A debate in Reykjavik City Hall was also part of the seminar. There were elections in Iceland on the 12th May and immigrantion is a big topic. Iceland has some of the toughest immigrantion laws in the world and so far only one person has claimed asylum in Iceland. It was very interesting to hear from organisations such as the Icelandic Red Cross and the international centre as well.

The begining of May started with meeting the new EVS and awaiting to move to Keflavik, to live on the ex NATO base. During this period, we are based in Gunnersholmie. Gunnarsholmie is a “busy” town with 4 houses and lots of sheep. Also, it has Gunnar, the manakin in the shower room!

The training began with an introduction to Iceland and the organisation. Icelandic naming is very confusing. Each person has a first name, and there surname is their father´s name, with son or dottir at the end. So Gunnar Gunnarson means Gunnar is the son of Gunnar. In addition, there was a day devoted to the clean up the coastline project. I ran two activities – a word association game related to the environment and a beach walk, where the participants had to note down the positive things on the coastline. Both activities were a success, despite the second activity not taking place near the sea. I discovered very quickly the coastline near Gunnersholmie is like a desert, complete with sandunes. Next time i will find the sea!


The second week of training involved working in the Botanical Gardens of Reykjavik. We were introduced to Icelandic flora and fauna (or the lack of!), and in the afternoon helped out in the gardens. I was in the vegetable patch (thinking of food again) and helped to add new soil. They grow most vegetables there including potatoes, onions, asparagus and carrots. For lunch, we were treated to tradditional blood and liver sausgage.

At last, we move to Keflavik! Living on the NATO airbase is strange. Its like a ghost town. Everything is in American, complete with Subway Sandwich. We spent a day moving furniture into the apartment. Those Americans had big ass TVs! From now on, my American name is Jack Calvin!

I am also learning Icelandic. This must be the hardest language in the world! They have words begining with Hv, which sounds like kf. So i can say:

Ég heite Duncan – my name is Duncan

Ég frá Brettlandi – I am from England

Ég erg tuttago oir tvegga aira – I am 22 years old

Einn Björ takk – one beer please

Hvað heite þu? – what is your name?

The training continues with a short seminar on leadership and conflict resolution. During this, we learned what a group is and how to communicate effectively, mainly through being blindfolded! I am still not sure how to resolve a conflict though; I just know what one is.

Click here for pictures of projects in Iceland

Click here for a country profile of Iceland