Zdraveyte from sunny Varna! Europeers UK are here for the 3rd international meeting! With over 5 different countries, we are learning and sharing with each other.
I went around asking some fellow Europeers from Poland and Germany: What is Europeers in one word?
This is what Sebastian, Lara and Karolina had to say!
Here we are four weeks after the Europeers training course at Newlands Park and I’d love to see what progress we’ve all made! I have recently started my new job and I’m loving every single second, as it’s social media based I spend a lot of time interacting online on an international level and I’m constantly thinking of ways this could benefit Europeers. I’m thinking of restarting my blog and using it as a base for advocating my EVS and the inspirational stories you all shared with me during that week. I’ve shared what I’ve done with my office workers and have already got people wanting to take part in Europeers programs. I guess what I’m trying to say is although it’s only been a couple of weeks, you may wonder if you’ve actually achieved anything yet, you’d be surprised! Let us know who you’ve shared your stories with, get them signed up to the newsletter and be proud of that first step, or second step, as I guess we all already took that first step together.
My name is Ellie, and I come from the North East of England, where one might say we speak a language of our own.
I studied French at sixth form and aspired to continue my studies of languages at university. However, I soon realised that my grades would not allow me to do so. The study of languages is not a popular choice in my area; in my class at school there were only three of us studying French, and so I was very aware of how valuable such a skill is to have. I did not want to give up on my aspirations, and so I postponed my UCAS entry- which I am completing this year- and searched for opportunities abroad to fill a gap year, develop my language skill and seem more attractive to prospective universities. I began by looking at the website ‘Workaway’ however my mum worried that there was no support system for me while I am abroad. And then, my French teacher (who comes from the South of France) told me about the European Voluntary Service (EVS.) I soon started searching the many projects in France and found ‘Educating children in Attigny’. I became very excited by the project as I like working with young people, and engaging them in new activities. This would be a new experience for me also as I have only ever worked with teenagers, whereas this project is mostly with children aged 2-5.
Being my first application, I was not expecting any positive result (especially as I had to email asking what a sending organisation is) but a few months later I received an email asking for a skype interview. The skype interview, to my relief was in English, but I must’ve been nervous as the interviewer -who was French- asked me to slow down while speaking (although it may have just been the Geordie accent). At the end of the interview I was asked if I’d applied to any other EVS projects, in which I replied no this is my only one. Either it was beginners luck, or I seemed very enthusiastic for this project- either way I was offered a placement!
After the initial excitement subsided it dawned on me… I’ve never worked with infants before! I decided to look for work experience in a local nursery, as it would be best getting some ideas while still in a familiar language rather than being thrown in the deep end in a foreign country.
I began three weeks of work experience the week after my exams had finished. Whilst my friends where out celebrating, I was playing with 3 year olds. It was very tiring work, and I required an afternoon nap each day after school, but I loved it! However I couldn’t help but think, I’m struggling to understand these toddlers, and they speak English… How am I ever going to cope in France?
After finishing my work experience I went on a four week residential working for an organisation called the National Citizen Service, which works with teenagers aged 15-17. I couldn’t decide who was more tiring: the toddlers or the teenagers.
I concluded my summer holiday with a week in Spain with my family, and the week after I left for France. The weeks leading up to this moment had consisted of many emotional phone calls with my best friend; many times when I wanted to scream with excitement; and many shopping trips to buy yet another suitcase. Saying goodbye however was not too difficult. Many of my friends were moving away to university anyway, and I had recently booked a two month trip to Thailand with my best friend for the following summer. The hardest goodbye was to my dog… after all I can skype everybody else!
After three months of not speaking any French, and an 18 hour journey driving from Newcastle to Dover, getting the ferry to Calais, and then driving to the North of France to the Ardennes, saying I struggled on arrival would be an understatement. My vocabulary included only “oui” and “d’accord” for the first couple of days until I recovered from my ‘on-land jet lag’. I arrived on Saturday the 2nd September, had the weekend with my mum to move my many bags into my house, which I share with a German EVS volunteer (Edith), and explored the very small village.
On the Monday my mum returned home and I began work on the Tuesday. However, the hard work didn’t last long, as I soon found out that the school is closed every Wednesday. I would say that this God send has so far saved me from extreme fatigue!
Within the second week I had to deliver two presentations about myself and where I am from to different members of the community, followed by cake and champagne. So far I have indulged myself with local delicacies: me and Edith have made mousse au chocolat, waffles, drunk French wine, and eaten a lot of baguette and brie! Equally, I have introduced her to English Breakfast Tea – and I have already ordered a delivery from home for some more ringtons tea (somehow liptons just doesn’t satisfy the palette).
A regular day at the nursery consists of leading an activity set by the teachers with a small group of children, which allows me to have small discussions and to inform them about my background. The infants understand that I am not French, which leads to some humorous questions such as “What planet do you come from?”, “Are you a robot?” and “Do you speak Chinese?” I have lunch in the primary school where I am bombarded with children wanting to show off their English skills, albeit this is a chance for me to make conversation in French. It amazes them that I can speak more than just French, as for the majority of the children I am the first English person they have met, and I am the first English volunteer to be hosted by this receiving organisation. The day then ends by helping with le sieste (where the youngest children sleep for 2 hours). This time has become a daily language lesson, as the other assistant helps me with my French and equally I teach her some English. It has been suggested to me that I lead an English language workshop in the village on a Wednesday, and also that I help in some English lessons in the primary school- which I am eager to get involved with.
This is my second week, and I am thoroughly enjoying my work, my company in the house, and my little quaint village. The area is beautiful- although colder than England! Last weekend, we went to a nearby village: Charleville for a puppet festival, and this weekend we hope to explore Rethel. We have access to a car, although for me it is bizarre adjusting to driving on the other side of the road (and I have ventured to the left side more than a few times), and a different measurement of speed; it’s like learning to drive all over again! Other than that, Attigny already feels like home.
My many bags, packed and ready to go
My new room
First weekend in the house
First shopping trip
Homemade mousse au chocolat
Feeding the donkeys
Feeding the goats
Charleville puppet festival
It is one of the best parts of the job as Project Coordinator to join the teams of ‘fresh off the bus’ young people and tell them about Europeers and the prospects that lay ahead for those active in the network. Last week our now fully fledged EuroPeers UK had taken part in our end of summer training course in London. Young people from all over UK joined forces, shared their Erasmus+ stories, actively participated in workshops and declared their interest in signing up for many more international opportunities in the future. EuroPeers UK aims at reaching every young person in UK and telling them about the infinite world of possibiliities within the Erasmus+ programmes framework.
We are especially keen to share our work with the representatives from the European Commission Representiation in London and are grateful to Andras and Sophie them for delivering an informative and inspiring presentation on the range of activtiies targeted at young people all across Europe. A fun Q&A session afterwards helped with people’s understanding of Erasmus+
Our network is constantly growing and we are on the look out for young people interested in sharing their Erasmus+ experience with other young people in their communities, schools, universities, youth centres. There is a sea of opportunity out there to be explored. EuroPeers UK is here to help young people navigate it, we are your signpost.
The next phase of the project aims to put our Europeers and Europeers partner organisations on the national map. This way, young people who wish to get involved in the network could discuss it directly with a person in their uni, town or region. We now have members representing all nations wishing to actively volunteer for various tasks ahead and it is an accomplishment we are particularly proud of.
October 2017 will be packed with events organised by our Europeers as they will be encouraged to join the activities as part of Time to Move international initiative under the auspices of Eurodesk in the UK.
To find out more and to put yourself on the map get in touch with us!
Hi! I’m Ellie, and I’m a third-year Film student at Falmouth University and this post is inspired by my learning at the EuroPeers UK training in Newlands Park and, in turn, about my next practical steps to promote EuroPeers to those around me.
As the EuroPeers training week came to a close, its’ happening has ‘poked the fire’ that is my passion for our European identity and belief in the value of international experiences. Therefore, in the spirit of the EuroPeers ethos I’ve been doing a little brainstorming.
To begin, in search of potential EuroPeers, I mapped out the groups of people that surround me. I’ve got a few friends. In fact, during the EuroPeers training week, we calculated that between our 21 participants we have over 15,900 Facebook friends. By sharing on social media our personal Erasmus+/EVS/etc narratives we can give insight into the adventures of taking up such international opportunities and by tagging posts with #europeers and #momentumworld we can direct those interested to practical advice on how to do so.
Away from the Internet, I believe a cup of tea and catch up with friends is not to be underestimated. It is almost impossible to share memories about traveling the world, new experiences and cultural exchanges without enthusiasm spilling over the words, and I’ll be sure to recommend EuroPeers along the way if they wish to get involved!
Another way which I will search for potential EuroPeers is through organizing an event at my University, as ready is an ideal pool of active and curious young people that could benefit from international opportunities. In this undertaking, I will seek advice from other EuroPeers who have set up their own events. My approach to fellow students will be informal yet informative (hopefully!). I plan to communicate and collaborate with the universities official relevant bodies, such as the international office, European society, and Erasmus+ coordinators.
Choosing the type of EuroPeers event is a chance to be creative, I imagine a ‘EuroPeers Cafe’ where people can both eat (European food), drink (European beer) and talk/learn about EuroPeers (my kind of party!), or perhaps I will create an information table in a popular spot on campus – I personally am drawn to information tables which include freebies or have interactive elements and so I will bring my various collection of keepsakes and photos from my own international travels. Finally, (with permission) I will spam all the notice boards with leaflets regarding EuroPeers and EuroPeers events.
These are my first few steps I will take to promote valuable international experiences to fellow young people. Why not give it a go too?
Hi! I’m Christina! I’m a Mexican American student living in London! I’m currently a student in media and photography! Unfortunately there is no Europeers USA (yet!). My friends in America don’t have the same opportunities I do here in Europe. I personally believe England and the EU have a love for their young people and students. There’s student discounts for everything! From shops on the high street to traveling across Europe. From what I experienced, it was go to school, straight to uni and then get a job asap! There’s nothing as a gap year. A gap year is unheard. I personally know no North American person who has had a gap year. Because there’s no room to experience and explore, most young people end up with a degree they have no idea about! Sadly, even a job they have no desire and love for.
Being a Europeer has inspired me to change and give my peers new and exciting opportunities. The chance to not only travel but to make friends and learn about themselves.
I’ve loved this Europeers week with some amazing people, please spread the love