“My European Voluntary Service was not just a year in my life, but a life in one year” – this is how I describe my gap year that I took after high school and this is the message I spread to other youngsters when I talk about first long-term international experience. In 2012/2013 I went to a European country whose capital most of my friends and relatives (unfortunately) did not know before: Lithuania. There, I was volunteering for ten months in a Children Day Care Centre in Sirvintos, a small town 50km to the capital, Vilnius. During that time I arranged leisure activities and sports for the children, learned a language that is only spoken by about three million people, travelled across the Baltic countries and met so many great people from all over Europe.
After having lived that European experience, I wanted to share my stories and thus decided to join the network of EuroPeers Germany. Many people here only think of the university exchange program for students, when they hear about “Erasmus”, but the program Erasmus+ offers a wide range of long and short term opportunities of going abroad. Telling other young people who do not necessarily think of those possibility, is the main reason for me to be part of EuroPeers.
In 2017 I organized, together with other EuroPeers from my region, several meet-ups in Berlin to bring current and former EVS volunteers together to discuss and share their experiences, I went on a fair to tell my stories as a “living library” or thought of methods and notions to write them down in a handbook for and together with other EuroPeers in Germany. Furthermore I went to the International EuroPeers network meeting in Varna and to the EuroPeers UK winter course and conference in Glaramara to build upon and further develop the network on the European level. With a growing network, I think it is really important to get to know each other, to learn more about the different approaches each national network has and to create a real synergy to plan transnational projects in the future and make thus show the impact the Erasmus+ program has, especially important facing the Brexit.