Thursday, September 13, 2012

Christine on EVS in Czech Republic - 2012

"Working with the children was the highlight of the whole project. 
It was just amazing to be a part of their lives for the duration of the year."

After university I was unsure of what I wanted to do, but I knew I was not ready to start full-time employment. I was hungry for more new experiences and eager to do something that felt worthwhile. Through my flatmate I was introduced to the possibility of participating in a European Voluntary Service project, something I had never heard of before. I applied to the programme and to my joy, was accepted. I couldn’t have been happier with the project that came my way. I was more than excited to be a part of Decko Rychnov. So, after finalising everything, I finally hopped on a plane and landed in the Czech Republic. It was to be an experience I would never forget and one that I would learn a lot from.
The first few weeks were all introductory and plenty of advice, support and training was given during this time. A smooth transition was made into the Rychnov community. Having the opportunity to live with a Czech family was also something I did not expect. It was the most incredible experience being in daily contact with such a wonderful family and I felt that it was such an important one. It allowed us to adjust and integrate more easily into the community and get a more impressionable feeling for the real Czech Republic.
The language lessons that were provided were also fantastic. They were such a great help and really encouraged communication and understanding. Plus it’s always good being able to communicate with locals and show your interest in their country. It’s a fun thing to try to learn a new language and I would say everyone was very successful in picking up at least some basics. The classes themselves were very interactive, great fun and beginner-friendly. The teacher is extremely patient and really helps you to excel if you put in the effort. I found having knowledge of the language made a real difference to the experience and gave more purpose to the nature and goal of the project.
The project itself within Decko was a wonderful one. It is a unique situation being given the opportunity to interact and work with people from all different backgrounds, of a different culture, of different ages and in a completely different country. Working with the children who attend Decko activities and clubs was superb. There was so much fun to be had, as well as there being many possibilities to gain new skills and learn something new. The environment also provided many ways to make new friends and enabled everyone to create friendships, which was a large part of the project.
Working with the children was the highlight of the whole project. It was just amazing to be a part of their lives for the duration of the year. Teaching at a number of local schools, throughout the Kralovehradecky kraj, was another highlight. Visiting those lessons, presenting about ourselves in Czech and then hosting English and occasionally German lessons, was a once in a lifetime experience. Something like that does not happen everyday. It was incredible the passion the Decko Director had for the project and it was great of him to implement such a project as this. It allowed both volunteers to test themselves in a completely new environment and allowed them to stretch their comfort zone while also introducing them to new and valuable situations and giving them the strength to speak in front of others and also work with them. This experience is invaluable to me and has been an influencing factor in directing my future.
The clubs that Decko offers really enabled the volunteers to expand their skills and increase their knowledge of certain subjects. Being involved in nearly all aspects of the organisation was exciting. Helping out at public events, dressing up and representing the organisation was also a great experience.
There were definitely times during the project where I did not find Decko a pleasant place to work. This was due to poor communication and a lack in comradeship. It was something I did not expect in such an environment, however, this did not affect my overall opinion of the project and the benefits of it.
I feel that the organisation itself is fabulous with providing a wide variety of activities for children, teenagers and adults alike. It is a unique place being made available to the Rychnov community and hosts a huge number of local events. I can say that it was great to be a part of such an organisation and I highly appreciate everything I learned from the experience. Like I said, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will never forget it. I hope that the community and the project saw the same results from us and appreciated having us. Everything gained and learned will be treasured and carried on into our future lives. Thank you!

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