Europska volonterska služba je dio Erasmus+ programa, a koji mladima omogućuje da volontiranju u inozemstvu od 2 mjeseca pa da godine dana. Erasmus+ najveći je program Europske unije u području obrazovanja, osposobljavanja, mladih i sporta za razdoblje 2014. ̶ 2020. Ovaj program omogućuje mladima mobilnost u svrhu učenja, gdje mladi sudjeluju na raznim projektima mobilnosti kako bi stekli nova znanja i vještine te pomogli zajednici u koju dolaze.
Alen Šabanagić je mlada osoba iz Hrvatske koja se odvažila na volontiranje u Ujedinjenom Kraljevstvu, mjestu Blackburn. Svoju volontersku službu od 10 mjeseci proveo je u Youth Action organizaciji, a ovo je njegovo iskustvo:
My name is Alen Sabanagic, I am 20 years old, from Croatia.
I heard about EVS from my aunt, she just asked me: “Alen what do you think about going outside Croatia for few months or a year?” I have been thinking that I had few jobs interviews that went nowhere because people pulled strings to get above me, so I said, you know what – why not!
Day after that I got the Info Pack about this EVS and Youth Action, my biggest surprise was you get accommodation, food and a place to improve yourself and monthly allowance – sounds to go to be true, plus there is interview. I thought this is too good to pass on or chances of me getting accepted are slim to none. But let’s go for it. I want change in my life.
Few days later I went to my sending organisation to talked with them about this whole thing. How it works? What do I need to sent to this unknown organisation in UK? When they told me I need to send CV and motivation letter I was like: What is motivation letter?! I asked my best friend how to write one, he sent me his whole lecture from university on how to write motivation letter. It took me 3 days, 1 day to write in Croatian, second day I translated to English, third day was for improvements.
When I finished my motivation letter and CV I went back to my sending organisation to show them what I have done. They told me it was excellent. Good for me.
Now it’s time for them to send everything to Youth Action. After certain period of time I got email from Youth Action asking me when I am available for interview, the moment I received email I called my mom, now when I think about I have no idea why I did that.
I told them I was available everyday, any time. When time for interview came, I finished reading InfoPack 7 times by then, highlighted everything I was interested in. I think interview lasted for an hour. I thought that was so quick, hopefully I won’t get declined because my interview finished so fast.
I found out I was accepted for this EVS while I was at party at friend’s house. We got one more reason to celebrate. It was nice.
Day was finally here for me to fly to UK. I have to mention that it was my first time ever on a plane. Probably because it was my first time ever, plane got delayed for 45 minutes. Plane finally arrived, and in middle of the flight pilot said that everyone who goes to Manchester need to get to shuttle 111, but that one was closed so we went to 107, got tickets to fly to Manchester over Munich. It was a fun experience.
When I finally arrived here in Blackburn I was beyond tired, I just wanted to sleep. My room was on second floor with two other boys, Pol and Kamil.
We got one day off so we can rest. There was Anisa to pick us up to show us how to get to Youth Action. When I saw Unity House I was surprised of how big it is and it was like a maze. When training started and Amar started talking about what is Youth Action and what they had achieved over years I was like, please stop. I don’t see myself ever coming close to some of those things.
We had lots of trainings about Youth Action, work they do and work that we will do.
Training was interesting for me personally because I like knowledge. But in first few weeks there have been interesting tasks to say the least. I think I will never forget those.
First one was getting to know Blackburn by interviewing 6 random people that live in Blackburn. Ask them few questions about Blackburn, what they like and dislike, favourite takeaway. Best part was we had to have video or picture evidence of that interview. Second one was to visit Blackburn Museum and find about Blackburn history. Both of those tasks had to be presented in PowerPoint and present in front of others. Those tasks where done in such way that we became better friends with each other because we were always in different pairs.
First month and a half where spent doing tasks like that where you where “forced” to speak in “public” and going to lots of training. Most important training that had to be finished was Safeguarding Children Level 1&2 because we started preparing for our first big project Junior Jam. Amar explain to us how they got the name and how it works. In that same meeting we got our tasks, Dorina and I got Arts&Crafts. I don’t know how it was decided anymore but I know we chose origami. Idea was that in Studio 2 we will have Origami crafting room, while in Studio 1 we will have tournaments with those same origami they have done in Studio 2. It didn’t really turn out that way it was only Origami in both rooms, but kids loved it. It was children’s favourite session in that whole week.
I was so nervous on first day that Junior Jam started, but we had so much training and everything planned before that it was ok. Tayyaba, new staff member was the reason why I had easy time through Junior Jam, because I saw how she deals with children on Monday, and I did the same thing on Tuesday when it was my turn. That helped a lot. Training also comes from watching those who have more experience, but it’s up to you to use that knowledge.
In middle of Junior Jam week, we found out about Ambassador Group are our new partners. Ambassador group is a group of young people of age 16-20. They are pillars of community and it was up to us to make them even better. I don’t remember the exact task, it was so long ago.
After Junior Jam we went to Manchester Royal Nawab restaurant, it’s like paradise of endless good food. When we where done eating, we went to get some tea to digest all the food we ate.
Two weeks after Junior Jam it was time for On Arrival Training (OAT) in London, to which we were late for like an hour. I don’t know how that happen. OAT is almost same as Predeparture training. You hear lot of stories from other volunteers, everyone spends most days same as us. Work from 9-5, preparing for projects etc. But not everyone had their Mentors like us. We arrived on our training after first two months while some volunteers arrived on their training two weeks before their service ends? I don’t know how that works but not everyone is lucky as us. There is a lot of things to see in London, in my opinion its too big for its own good. They have subway underground, I have no idea how that works but I had friend I meet over online video game I played, so I had free tour guide in London. Lucky.
When we returned from London we heard about our next big project Easter Jam, same like Junior Jam but it will last 2 weeks not 1 and it will be an hour longer. This time everyone got their own themes, we had to do everything alone. Only thing that was given to us is our theme. I believe my theme was something about lyrics and how to write songs. I was not impressed. I decided that I won’t do that, I will do origami again, I know kids loved it. I also enjoy origami and know how to lead sessions with origamis, but something happened and my sessions wasn’t used in Easter Jam, but everything is written down and ready for next EVS volunteers or when the right time comes.
Although Easter Jam lasted two weeks, it didn’t feel like that at all. Everything went smooth and fast. I really like working with children. When you work with them its usually like this. If they enjoy session that you planned they will have fun and do everything on their own and when they have fun of course you are going to have fun leading a session, because you can see that your hard work in planning those sessions for kids payed off. It’s all about having positive energy because kids are good at picking up those things. When you come to work anything that maybe bothering you that day, leave it behind.
I managed to get involved in Ambassador group, I still remember that session that we had with them because that week theme was about Money & Me. They were split in two groups and each group was given £5. Idea was to go to Aldi and buy a 3-course meal for that day with only £5. If I remember correctly we where given 45 minutes, to buy things, and prepare a meal without cooking. My group won easy. Didn’t doo much because girls in group did everything. Bless them.
Ambassadors are all about things that will be useful for them in future. That’s the reason why we have sessions the way we are. Last session we had with ambassadors was about Power, how it’s good to have it, but not too much because then it becomes a double edged sword.
That’s how we usually spent time here at Youth Action. May was quite a month because everyone decided to fast because it was Ramadan, even though I’m not religious person I still did it because it was interesting. Honestly that month was one of best month went it came towards food, we never had to cook because staff members of organisation and mentors keep bringing food to us. It was definitely a very very interesting month. Because of that month I don’t really feel need to eat when I was bored or something similar.
When that month finished because everyone in house fasted for whole 30 days we got tickets to amusement park Blackpool Pleasure Beach, it was my first time at theme park such as this one. I loved and enjoyed every second of it.
May was indeed holy month because when holy month ended, we where back in production of our session planning for Junior Jam Summer, 3 weeks, 5 hours every day. When I first heard about it I wanted to get sick so I don’t have to work those 3 weeks. Good thing that didn’t happen because I enjoyed Summer Jam probably more that any other staff member. That’s how confined I was and there was no stress what so ever. It felt natural to do sessions with children again, the feeling was like riding a bicycle. I don’t know how else to explain the feeling.
One of the reason why I believe that Summer Jam was easy because we had long time to prepare for it, everything was planned to the last minute. My sessions during Summer Jam where Career days on Monday of second week, and trip to Fire station on Tuesday of third week. Children loved both of my sessions, even when sessions are consisted from nothing but information it’s all about delivery, no one wants to listen to something boring.
So that is my experience being here for last 8 months, there have been ups and downs. Not so much downs as ups. I always stayed away from problems, because I don’t need that in my life. It my seems that only thing I have been writhing about is doing sessions, but there has been lots of learning opportunities. Such as First aid in Work office, Sexual Behaviour and how to recognize it within children, Youth Worker Level 1 and many more.
Thank you for reading this hopefully you will enjoy reading as much as I did writing it.