After only two weeks our new volunteer Annemarie left the National LGBT Rights Organization LGL – but only to return full of ideas for the following ten months of her European Volunteer Service (EVS).Where she came up with the new project ideas for the LGL community? At her on-arrival training in Anupriškės. What she experienced there? Just read on:
‘You have 15 minutes to make a salad. Everyone can touch just one material – for example vegetables, glass, cutlery or plastic.’ Thoroughly challenging – after all it is not so easy to not have your fingers in the wrong place while somebody else leads the knife. The results after 15 minutes: a surprisingly tasty salad – and a good lecture in non-formal education and group work.
Because what sounds like a weird birthday game was part of the on-arrival training for the new volunteers in Lithuania. The training shall prepare the volunteers for the life and the service in Lithuania and help them to get a clearer picture of their aims. Since only six people started their EVS this summer the group was rather small – which made the atmosphere very cozy and warm, characterized by ‘I can start!’ calls whenever it was time to present what we had been working on. Three intense days were filled with team challenges, session on the EVS and, of course, a trip to nearby Trakai.
As I have been living in Lithuania already for more than a year my expectations for the training were very low, I did not hope to learn anything new. Nevertheless I was looking forward to meeting other volunteers and to hear about their projects. And, what shall I say? Eventually the training turned out to be amazing. Not only that I met other volunteers and an amazing trainer: I made new friends, found out a lot about the EVS, figured out a bunch of project ideas, got to know a beautiful part of the country (I saw swamps for the first time in my life) and even learned some new facts about Lithuania (for example that altogether six cities had been the capital). My vague idea of working with the LGBT* community and at the same time improving my competences for my future (work) life were turned into the strong will of using the EVS as the opportunity to learn all the things I always wanted to learn (e.g. all the cool stuff in Excel, fundraising) and to pay forward to the community. The network we built during the three days will for sure help me a lot.
What impressed me a is how conscientious the National Agency – that is responsible for all Erasmus+ actions – builds a backstop for everyone during the training. The preparation for all phases and problems one can undergo while staying and working abroad during a volunteer service is much better than the preparation for studies and internships abroad, at least from my experiences.
However, the things I benefited from most are the learning and the activity plan. The learning plan is part of the „Youth Pass“, a document that is created in the end of the EVS and shows how one improved in the eight ‘key competences’, for instance ‘communication in mother tongue’, ‘social and civic competence’ or ‘digital competence’. When I took part in a youth exchange I got familiar with the Youth Pass and the key competences but nevertheless I did not find it useful for myself. So it surprised me a lot when I could suddenly easily find goals for all competences and the plan structured my ideas a lot.
Just as useful as this was the activity plan in which had to come up with ideas for further projects. When everyone was presenting his or her ideas the others suddenly saw opportunities for cooperations. What we came up with? Make sure to check out LGL’s Facebook, Twitter and the calendar on the homepage regulary. For now just three words: I can start!
Cover photo: Alina Bechterevė
Text and photo gallery: Annemarie Walter