European Solidarity Corps in Poland

“A Spanish, Italian, and English person; living in a flat in Poland sounds like the premise of a bad sitcom. Instead it is the foundation of a life-changing experience, and how I will spend the next 10 months. 

As a EuroPeer I’m almost certain you will have heard of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). If not the information is only an email or Google search away, it is also extremely similar to the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which you may have also heard of.

Writing this I am 1 week into my ESC, working on a project around solidarity and inclusion; at a volunteer centre in Kielce, Poland. Even this early on I can feel growth in myself, and can begin to imagine how much of a ‘mega’ time I will have here. 

My decision to do an ESC project was not only down to my love for erasmus+ and non-formal education in general. But also because I was beginning to feel stuck, and felt a calling to do something different and spectacular.

At this point in time it looks like that call was answered.

I understand that I will face many challenges during my time living and working in another country; and maybe it wouldn’t be wrong to call this first week a ‘honeymoon period’. However, I am extremely optimistic about the next 10 months, and would urge absolutely anyone just to take that leap – I’m certain that any other EVS or ESC alumni would agree with me as well.

Why not? 

Cheers for reading and hope it’s at least made you think a little. 

By Nathan

My Solidarity Focus Group experience

The European Solidarity Corps programme is relatively new to the European world of education and opportunities. So when I was asked to attend a Solidarity Projects Focus Group in Birmingham, I didn’t take too much time to think about it. I confirmed my attendance and then started preparing. The idea was straight forward: come in, give your input based on your experience and share your feedback. We were a group of three well-experienced EuroPeers. I wasn’t nervous about anything, the Solidarity team made it clear that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. What a quality, to show a person that even a complex situation can be treated as a simple task! And when you think of it, a project is all about complex situations. Organising a project requires personal sacrifices and time management, to begin with. And to remember that not everybody starts with a full team, most of the entrepreneurs out there will start their legacy having the generous support of their own self. Have you been on a project, whether Solidarity Corps or Erasmus+? It can seem smooth sometimes, but that’s only because someone spent their time thinking of how to make it work as well as possible.

Considering all of this in the context of the European Solidarity Corps projects, it doesn’t get any easier. You know you want to help and bring that positive change, you sort of know in what area to apply your idea, but do you have the resources and the organisational skills at hand? Not always and usually, not at the beginning. Well, in this regard, you can get help. And this is what the Focus Group was about in Birmingham. We tested the Solidarity Projects Planner which aims to help those groups of people who would like to organise a Solidarity project.

It always starts as a mess, brainstorming ideas, putting sticky notes on the fridge and on the bathroom mirror. The Planner helps you breakdown all those messy thoughts into structured and personalised sections. It is the perfect start for a more in-depth analysis of your work that will follow as you dive into the project’s details. I was pleased to see what it had to offer and how simple but structured it was. 

So you have your solidarity topic idea, whether it is social inclusion, mental health, or you want to help your local community in a different way. You need to get your group sorted (you need at least 5 people in the group), remember that the project can be between 2 and 12 months and give it a go! How do you start I hear you ask? The Solidarity Projects Planner is the answer. 

By clicking here you can find out more about the Focus Group and on how to get involved in European Solidarity Corps. 

By Mihai

A proper Lake District week

Hello, it’s me, I was wondering if after all these months you’d like to read.

Anyway, it’s me with another blog post.

As the title may already give away this was a prime Lake District week, and that’s also how it started.
On Monday, I decided to get some quality time after work in the evening. So I headed down to Portinscale to Derwentwater Marina where the boat racks with the WCCC boats are and took one out on the lake.
As always when I’m in a kayak on the lake, it’s very tempting to head towards St.Herbert island, get out of the boat and stay there for a while. Well yes, that’s exactly what I do, to be fair, that’s what I always do. I got to relax in the evening sun for a little while before I headed back to the Marina through increasingly choppy water. I will definitely miss this kind of quality time on a calm island once I leave…

Tuesday wasn’t much different in terms of outdoor activity as we got to leave the office about 2hours early, which gave me plenty of additional time in the evening. I wanted to go for a walk up Skiddaw anyway so this shorter office day came in perfectly timed. And so I did, I walked and partly even ran up Skiddaw and back down in about 3h10min, which sounds rather crazy now, considering that it took us a good 5-6h when we first walked up Skiddaw in February through heavy snow and ice-cold wind.
At the same time, Emilia and a couple of friends from the Calvert Trust went down to Bassenthwaite Lake on the other side of Keswick to get out on the water for some stand-up paddling.

While Emilia was busy playing football in another home game on Wednesday, I spend my evening cooking and having a little bit of fermented grape juice to treat myself after two very active evenings the previous two days.

Nothing major really happened until Saturday, but that day we met up with Adam from the Calvert Trust who we’d go for another hike with. It was time for a biggy, the biggest to be precise. At least the biggest in England. We started our hike in the late morning and slowly made our way up to the top of Scafell Pike through the clouds and over slippy rocks and stones.
Thanks to Adam, who is far more experienced than we are when it comes to mountaineering and orienteering, we did not end up lost somewhere in the clouds in the hills. Unfortunately, we literally couldn’t see anything from the summit, but at least we can still say we made it up to the highest mountain in England at 978m.

We closed out the week with a very relaxed Sunday because we were way too tired from the previous day to do anything anyway.

Well, here we are, the end of my second to last blog post. See you in two weeks for my very last one!

By Max

EVS Update: Play

Somehow it has been nearly 3 months since I arrived in Hungary. Time is running…

One of the things that hadn’t actively crossed my mind before my EVS was the possibility to travel further than the place I was based in. I thought Debrecen, Hungary was the destination of my adventure, but it has unravelled to be the starting point for many more. Perhaps I was lucky in that on arrival I could immediately join the momentum of travel of the other volunteers, as we all share this sense of worldly curiosity.

Our exploration has so far been within the country and across its borders to Romania and Serbia. Having always lived and enjoyed living by the sea, one of my hesitations about Hungary was its landlockedness. However, its geographical position and its many neighbours has brought forward this possibility to travel. And in the meantime, a trip to the biggest and nearest lake does the job good enough.  

Weekends have been perfect opportunities for tastes of places. Debrecen is essentially a big village, so when in need of the chaos of a city, Budapest is only a few hours on a direct train away. On the other hand, sometimes we have left the “Big Village” to go to a smaller village such as Tokaji – in this case we were motivated by its reputation for wine (more specifically it is well known for sweet wine…although I’m more of a dry wine fan…wine is wine…and saying that even the Hungarian standard for dry wine is sweet).

Our search to find a landscape that gives something back (Hungary is so flat) has led us, on more than one occasion, to Romania. Most recently we hired two cars and headed in the direction of the Carpathian Mountains. Now I’ve driven up high in another country, in the dark, on the wrong-right side of the road, and with fog….I feel like I can drive anywhere(ish). Other encountered firsts include e.g. on our way back at some ungodly hour at night/in the morning when we came to crossing into Hungary, the border was closed. It was easily resolved as we travelled further to a 24/7 crossing point but I had no idea and found it strange that borders shut in the same way as e.g. Tesco supermarket, and you have to go searching for the nearest non-stop shop so you can get some milk in your tea.

Mainly, because of the experiences shared there and its incredible landscape, Romania has fast become one of my favourite countries (side note: although this love for the country doesn’t extend to its politics ect….). So much so that on these trips, it has been the few times I’ve put down the camera so I can fully “be there”. And now, with Christmas break broaching, in true festive spirit we have made plans to continue visiting other bordering neighbours!

by Ellie

 

 

 

Stand Out in a Global Market- EuroPeers in Birmingham

Events, events and events – this is what EuroPeersUk and Youth Action International have on their agenda all the time.

This time in Birmingham, two EuroPeersUK and Youth Action International delegates participated in ‘Stand Out in a Global Market’, an event organised by EurodeskUK on the 23rd of October.

We had the pleasure of meeting many people from across the UK whose stories and insights were very inspirational and impactful. An informal group of young people, Erasmus students, NGO leaders and many more joined the network and shared their experiences in order to help others be more aware of how beneficial these international opportunities are.

Many thanks to EuroPeersUK and EurodeskUK for the event, and as for Birmingham, we’ll see the beautiful city again in November when we’ll participate in the Impact+ Seminar.

Stay international! #SOGM2018 #ErasmusPlus

By Mihai

Never Hungry in Hungary

I had no idea what to expect from Hungary. I’d never been to Central Europe before and knew nothing of either the culture or the climate. As it turned out, they’re both pretty welcoming this time of year.

It was my second APV so I went in with more understanding of what to expect. A big part of what I learned though is that it’s a little different every time. Our host organisation was a long-term Momentum World partner, Fekete Sereg, based in rural northwestern Hungary in the village of Nagyvázsony.

Nope, it’s not pronounced how it looks.

Anna and David met us at the airport in Budapest, representatives from seven different organisations across Europe. After quick introductions, we piled into a minibus and headed out of the city, as the last of the sun bobbed blood orange, to a restaurant where tables were pushed together to accommodate us.

Before our meals had arrived we’d already enjoyed a round of pálinka, the traditional fruit brandy of Hungary renowned for its all-to-predictable potency. It certainly gets the conversation flowing. I always think how great it is to look around a table and see completely new faces, from countries near and far, united by a common passion. It makes me feel distinctly that I am at the right time and place and all the most important things in the world are happening right there and then.

It was a double-APV, two short-term EVS exchanges for three and eight weeks respectively, where volunteers would work closely with local formal and non-formal education facilities, including the youth club where Fekete Sereg has its office.

The APV ran back to back with a two-day conference designed to augment the APV experience. But we weren’t the only ones invited; it was open to the public and numerous locals joined us, alongside invited guest speakers from Budapest and beyond. The furthest afield came from the town of Pradera in Colombia; the Mayor in fact.

This meant that translation was going to be a major consideration, but the Fekete Sereg team had anticipated such and were trialling a clever system where either David or Anna would translate directly into our ears through a headset. It worked well, apart from the huge mental strain on whoever was translating!

We enjoyed some interesting speeches from a varied range of guests, from a Hungarian diplomat who started his international story with Fekete Sereg, to the very first EVS volunteer the organisation hosted over ten years ago, to a Hungarian National Agency representative shedding light on the upcoming metamorphosis of EVS to ESC (European Solidarity Corps).

The Mayor of Pradera helped remind us all that as much as we face challenges in engaging with today’s youth, there are those who face greater challenges every day and still succeed.

I also checked in with Harry, our current EVS volunteer living in Nagyvázsony, who’s doing very well, living in a share house with two other EVS volunteers from Germany and Austria. Harry was responsible for documenting the conference, to be used as an educational and a promotional resource for Fekete Sereg.

Before I knew it, my trip was coming to an end. It was a beautiful five-day bubble, turning the clock back on the waning summer, if only for a little while. It’s rewarding to maintain strong relations with our pre-existing partners, Fekete Sereg, putting faces and personalities to email addresses. Equally valuable is it to lay the foundations for new relationships with organisations across Europe. A strong network will be a bulwark against the coming turbulence which Brexit will cause. Lastly, it is always a blessing to step foot in a new land for the first time, to see one more corner of our beautiful world, to see the mountains and the trees and the sky and to see, most of all, that the people smile the same way we do.

By Joseph

A busy year so far

I would like to thank everybody for their support making 2017 very positive year so far for Europeers. So much has happened in a short space of time and 2018 promises to be even more exciting. Our cordinator Olga has been working very very hard to bring the network to a much wider audience, and our two interns Mathis and Joanna in the north-west office based in Keswick will be pushing Europeers in new directions. let us keep the energy and passion going – Paul Oxborough (Creative Director Momentum World)

Remember to checkout our latest newsletter

Guest Europeers post from Rita Sawires

Hello! My name is Rita originally from Egypt… Before I tell you about EuroPeers UK, you need to know that if you are reading this now means you are now on EuroPeers UK website and now you are very lucky!

Anyway, let’s get this started!

Two months ago, I received an email from my overseas manager (my manager always wanted us to make the most of our placements). She heard of the Europeers UK network and sent us the training opportunities to join, share experiences and get a lot in return.

To be honest, I applied because I always wanted to visit Cardiff and so I said “Yeah, Why not? Let’s go..!!” What I found out later was much more exciting than just visiting Cardiff (No offense Cardiff, you are my love <3)

I met different people from different countries, with different traditions, speaking various languages and with different accents. I also met two experienced trainers who have been all around the world. The trainers introduced us to one another and made us feel welcome. What they also did; they made us believe that the world doesn’t stop where we think it does, it opened our minds and eyes to things that we never knew existed with activities such as “skills you have but you never knew you had”. They made us aware of opportunities, other networks, all that with lots and lots of fun, laughs, games and stories.

I won’t be able to explain it all, but if you are a young person somewhere out there,  Europeers UK will make sure that you have an opportunity to share your experiences with other young people in your community and in the world. So what are you waiting for… www.europeers.uk  – Written by Europeer Rita

EuroPeers. Summertime.

It has been a good summer for EuroPeers UK.

We have kept busy, kicking off with our training at Brunel University last month, followed by the course in Cardiff. We are extremely happy to see young people join us for a few intensive days of learning, sharing international experiences, gaining confidence in their abilities and purely enjoying themselves.

Thank you to all of you who have joined us for the journey thus far.

Both these events are merely starting points, from which our network will expand, and grow into something with a vibrant presence throughout the UK.

Our young people, now fully fledged EuroPeers, have proved to be an active bunch ready to learn from one another, organise themselves,  and put their ideas into practice.

As always we are here to inspire your creative minds and encourage your active involvement. There are volumes of opportunities out there waiting for you. EuroPeers UK are here to connect you to new people, places, experiences and help you along the way.

Join us today!

Europeers Training – Wales

INTRODUCTION TO EUROPEERS – SIGN UP NOW!!

24-27 JULY, Wales
4-7 SEPTEMBER, England (near London)

Spend 3 days with a group of other motivated young people. Share your European story, learn how to be an active EuroPeer, and have some fun. You'll get immediate opportunities to put learning into practice and organise your own local activities after the course, and to volunteer for leadership positions.

These are fully residential courses (shared rooms) with all meals included. Courses are free but there is a small deposit which you'll get back when you run your first activity.

All courses are open to participants age 18-25 from anywhere in the UK, We can also consider people age 16-18, subject to parental consent.

HOW TO APPLY

Please message us or email: europeersuk@momentumworld.org

Europeers training in full swing

18 young people are at Brunel University all this week being trained to become Europeers and pass on the message that the international experience changes your life and makes you more employable – watch out for a training course near you

 

Europeers Menorca

As Creative Director ​of Momentum World I had the pleasure of going to visit my daughter Charlotte who is doing and Erasmus+  EVS program in Spain. This allows her to teach English in a small school to students aged between 3 and 13. As well as helping her develop her Spanish skills, independence, confidence and ability to meet others. 

I have seen Charlotte develop over the last few months and grow much more independent and she’s looking at the bigger picture now this is all thanks to the EVS program.

Why not get involved yourself if you are aged between 18 and 30 you are entitled to take up these programs. Contact us now for more information on how to do this



An amazing short notice opportunity with Europeers

We have an immediate opportunity for young people to attend the EuroPeers UK induction course next week. The course takes place at Brunel University starting on Monday 3 July and ending on Thursday 6 July. It is fully residential and free of charge.
The course includes:
– Introduction to EuroPeers and information on Erasmus Plus
– Team building
– Presentation skills
– Storytelling and case studies
– Intercultural skills
– Practical public information activity
– Action planning
– Evening social activities

What is EuroPeers UK?

EuroPeers UK is the international opportunities network for young people. It is all about motivating young people to get some international project or volunteering experience on their CV, and promoting the Erasmus Plus programme. It is the perfect follow-up for anyone looking for meaningful next steps after taking part in EVS or other European activities.

 
What are the benefits?
Participants will get:
– opportunities for leadership roles and specialist responsibilities in the network
– professional skills development and experience to put on their CV
– immediate access to more international opportunities (conferences, training, EVS etc)
– encouragement and support for their own initiatives
– satisfaction and fun from being part of a network of active, international young people
In addition, those who join now will be offered membership of the National Council, which will represent the interests of partner organisations and other stakeholders.If you know any active young person aged 18+ who is excited by international opportunities, please encourage them to join this course!

 

Because it’s short notice, please ask them to phone or message us direct on:
07795 554202 (Andrew); 07961 356362 (Sarah); or 07858 061753 (Olga).