Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My EVS experience in the Czech Republic so far...

My name is Katrina Calvin I am from England I am 23 years old. When I was making the decision to apply to EVS I asked myself the most important question. Can I live and work away from home in another non English speaking country for one year? I thought back to my second year at university in 2011, when I had an opportunity to embark upon working within a Girls Scout Summer Camp in Virginia, America. This was also my first time aboard and away from home. I was away for 10 weeks the longest I’ve been away from home. I had my first taste of an international exchange.   From this moment forward I knew that I wanted to work aboard again internationally with Children and young people.  I came across many programmes and EVS really caught my eye. As it is such an amazing opportunity and everything is paid for by the European Union. 

I was very open and I didn’t mind what country in the EU I went to, I submitted my application  to many countries. I just knew that I wanted to make a difference within the lives of children and young people. I have seven years experience so far working within the youth field prior to applying for EVS. I knew that I wanted to help them with the English language within schools. I first heard back from the coordinator Katerina Hiebschova, from Decko  in Nachod. She told me about the youth centre and the programmes that they offer there. I was particularly interested in working within several schools in Nachod as an English Language Support Assistant.  I love to step out of my comfort zone and step into the unknown. It didn’t do any research about The Czech Republic. I found it daunting in the beginning to work aboard for one year as it will be the longest I have been away from home. I like how I am in the centre of Europe and it is easy for me to visit home. I love to go home often, as it keeps me grounded and allows me to put things into perspective.  As well as being able to see friends and family and to take a break from the culture here. I know that I came here to serve the Children and young people within the community. I love the work that I do within schools. I also have English conversation clubs for mothers as well as those within the wider Czech community. There are many events in Decko for children that I have to organise and support within. 
Most tourists travel to Prague only in the Czech Republic. Nachod is a very small town. Where I live is very peaceful and quiet compared to where I live in England. The population in Nachod is also smaller then I am used to.  The Czech Republic has a lot of beautiful nature.

The Czech Republic is like a new  foreign world for me. Also there is not a huge amount of cultural diversity. You just have the Roma community and also the Chinese and the Vietnamese community.  Being from an ethnic minority and living in the Czech republic I can sometimes feel the tension in the atmosphere from the Czech community. As they do not know how to approach me. I often get a lot of stares but I have adopted a very positive attitude towards this.  I have never experienced this in my home country so it is very new for me.  I know that for them they are curious about why I am here. I love to speak to them in order to break down any stereotypes they may have. We are all connected to each other no matter our differences. We can all learn to work together EVS supports diversity exchanges.  It makes me appreciate that in England we have so much diversity and multiculturalism I now value how extremely  important it is. 

The Czech language is very challenging for me to learn. I have two Czech lessons on Fridays. I have basic Czech lessons as well as an advance Czech lessons.  I lack motivation to learn the Czech language as every day I am communicating in English within the schools. As well as with those within the Czech community and also the volunteers. Everyone has a strong desire to improve their English. I also have English lessons with some of the volunteers.
I am  unapologetic me! :)

My EVS journey is full of ups and downs but I always remember why I am here and that is to serve the children and young people.  My passion and faith helps me to keep going until the end of my EVS in August 2015. I can’t believe that I am half way through already! I am learning so much about myself and there is so much opportunity for growth. I am learning the importance of being myself and not apologising for who I  am. 

Every day I am learning from the other volunteers around me also. I would really recommend other young people to go for EVS. It will be a journey that you will not forget. Take the opportunities that are presented to you while you are still young J this is how I live my life. 

Oscar Wilde once said:
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist that is all.”

So I wish you all to live. Explore how others live in the world you will discover that everything you thought was normal is not so. As everyone lives there lives based on his or hers own set of beliefs. So there is no such thing as ‘normal’.  


Katrina Calvin