(My) On-Arrival Training in Trakai

I’m a new volunteer in Vilnius, working at The National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL; I’m from Rome, Italy, so this country it’s really different from what I’m used to, but also interesting because of this. I did my On-arrival Training after just four days from my arrival in Vilnius, so for me it was a really On Arrival training, cause there were people at this training who were in Vilnius already for one, two months or more, so for me, maybe, it was more useful than for them.

At the beginning I really didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t afraid but even excited about it, maybe I thought it will be mostly boring. But I immediately changed my mind once I was there at the beautiful hotel with other funny people. We started to know each other already on the bus to reach Trakai, cause we fit it almost all.

16901714_10212160263988691_1446722287_nOnce at the hotel, we were surprised by the beautiful rooms with big windows through you can see the iced lake. They were very comfortable and we started to think that this on-arrival training could be really interesting.

After lunch we met our two Trainers, Sandra & Sandra, whom involved us in the program through discussions and explanations but also funny games to know better each other.

They were always able to make us feel comfortable with the situations, they were available and friendly but not because they have to do for their jobs, but because they were really involved in what they were doing and I think they really liked it. Its not so simple working with 19 young people from all over the world that maybe are not used to do things like these, they never forced us to do things that we didn’t want to do but at the same time they encouraged us to share our experiences and thoughts about the topics, our lives before the EVS, the present and also the future of our personal projects here in Lithuania.



The most exciting and funny day was for sure the day of the Hike, through Trakai.

16923452_10212160263708684_1457531238_nIt was an entire day outdoor (perfect for me, cause the nature its always the most interesting thing to discover), but the different thing about it was that from the beginning to the end of the hike we had to decide everything by ourselves, with no help from the Trainers. We were separated into two groups, each one accompanied by one Trainer but they were not allowed to interveine; so with a map we planned the walking from the hotel to reach the Trakai‘s Castle (point of the final meeting). During the hike we had also personal and group challenges to do, to grow up and experience new things personally and related to the group. We started walking from the hotel through the woods, the desolated and silent lands, and the villages around Trakai.

IMG_1593One of the most interesting challenges was The Silence Challenge, which consisted of walking for 30 minutes without speaking to anyone else, and using just hands signs to explain something. I really like to stay silent walking into the nature, so of course was not a real challenge to me but more a time to think and enjoy the frozen panorama around. But the interesting thing about this was that we paid much more attention, not only at the space around us, but mostly on the other people, cause we had to check if everybody were still there, if we were all fine and not too far from the group.

And after every challenge we were supposed to write something about, like for example how we were experienced the challenge and our personal observations.

But the best part of the day was for sure the iced lake.

In the afternoon, after we had lunch in the small village near Trakai, we had to reach the Trakai‘s castle so we continued to walk on the main road until we arrived in front of a iced lake. We knew that walking through the lake was the fastest way to arrive on the other side, at the castle, so all together we decided to do that and we walked through the entire lake till the other side.

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Some people at the beginning were really scared of walking on the ice cause they thought that it wasn‘t safe enough, but we reassured them that there was nothing to worry about and that we were doing together as a group.

Personally, I had never walked on an iced laked so I was really excited about it and not scared at all, was something that I really wanted to do. It was truly a beautiful experience cause walking there it was like walking on a different world, far from the everyday life, a world that could break under your feet in every minute cause its just iced water, but somehow you know it will not happen and instead its like a peaceful place.


On the walking through the iced lake we decided to do an other group Challenge, cause we thought it was really the perfect place to do that. The challenge consisted in a 30 minutes walk, in which half of the group had to be blind and the other half had to lead the blind people only with their voices and without touch them.

It was a really weird but beautiful experience, not so difficult cause at the end the space in which we were walking was so big and open and almost without any obstacles on our way, so we had just to follow the voice and instructions of our partner. In the end of this funny challenge, we finally reached the Trakai‘s castle which is located in the center of an other iced lake.

There we met with the other group and spend the rest of the afternoon near the beautiful castle to get some rest all together. And at night, after dinner, at the hotel we had a relaxing time in the Sauna, a perfect ending for this day.


The day after, we did many activities and learning games, we reflected on the day before, on what we did on the Hike, about our personal and group challenge and also we discovered a lot of interesting things on the Lithuania itself, in good and bad sides of course; with our trainers we discussed may different themes, from nature, to culture to people to religion or taboo, to discover better this country that is hosting us for our EVS journey.

The most funny part of the day came in the evening, to discover completely the Lithuania we cooked all together by ourself a typical lithuanian dinner in the kitchen of the hotel, we did many local delicious (but very heavy) dishes, from appetizers to the dessert, and at the end I think we did a great job.

After dinner, to finish the perfect lithuanian day, our trainers teached us some local dances, and it was really funny cause at the beginning we did such a mess to learn all the moves and did them right, but finally after some practice we learned how to move in the right way (kind of) and enjoyed the evening dancing all together.

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The last day, in the morning, we had a meeting with a woman from the National Agency to discuss againg about our EVS projects and understand everything in the right way, to be sure that we all had a clear idea on the details of what really means and is the EVS, how it works and the people involved in it.

After the last lunch at the hotel we said goodbye to our dear trainers and came back to Vilnius to our projects and lives with a more concrete idea and thoughts about us, on what we have to do, on what could be our future here and how we can reach our goals, but mostly we came back with a lot of new friends and companions on this strange and beautiful journey through lithuanian EVS.


Pictures by Adrian Aradi and Giordano Campanelli