StoryTordis Verhoeven


 When I applied in December 2013 for a European Voluntary Service I did not know what big adventure was in store for me. I actually hoped to go to Portugal, but in the end I found myself in the middle of the Estonian forest. There I worked in a small village called Maarja Küla, which is a living-in community for people with mental disability. Although at the beginning some friends and family members had doubts and demurred whether it was the proper work for me, I had an amazing year there. Already the first day, from when I was picked up from Riga airport, the craziness began. We got lost in the forest and it took us hours to find the right way back. It would not be the only time that I got lost, but I always found my way back to the village. Initially I was overcome; there were so many inhabitants with weird names who wanted to get to know me. However after a while I learned all their names, what they liked and disliked and I became fond of them. I spent a lot of beautiful days with them, playing card games, going for a walk or just talking. Of course I also had bad days, when I missed my home and family, but when in August 2015 my sailing date approached, I did not want to leave. 




I miss Estonia, the forest, the lake, the village. I met a lot of nice people there, made new friends. I learned a new language and gained a lot of experiences. But more than everything else I got a second home with a second family.  


And here is an update from Tordis, who joined the 5th European Meeting in Utrecht, in October 2019…


More than four years have passed since I left Estonia, but my time there still has a great impact on me. It was in Estonia that I took the final decision to become a teacher and this is what I am doing today. Next to my studies, I still take part in trainings and meetings across Europe, I get to know new people and see old friends again. Wherever I go, I try to promote Erasmus+ and share the European spirit. It is my way of saying thank you for the great opportunity I got back then, it was an experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life.