My name is Tatiana and I am currently volunteering at the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL. I came to Lithuania in the middle of April and our On-arrival training took place in the beautiful resort of Margio Krantas at the lake Margis on April 24 to 26, 2017. It was attended by 10 new-coming volunteers, mostly working in regional or national parks of Lithuania. What was the most common fear among all the participants? You guessed it. Weather conditions.
When I left Slovakia, my home country, it was pleasantly warm around 18°C, and the first thing I did after my arrival was winter clothes shopping. That proved to be very useful during the on-arrival, as we enjoyed hiking and even rowing on the lake with occasional snow. The theme of the whole training for me personally was: How to step out of your comfort zone, because that is where your learning process starts. As well as providing tools for dealing with challenges, because there are going to be challenges. The topics were approached through various activities, requiring trust in other participants, team work, creativity, and a large bit was aimed at pushing participants to choose the hard way over the easy one. One could say it was almost like a miniature imitation of your future EVS experience pressed into 3 wonderful days. They were all precisely designed and professionally led by the magnificent duo Vaida and Taškas, a psychologist and an experienced youth worker. Other than activities we managed to prepare various Lithuanian dishes for dinner and the whole EVS concept was properly explained and demystified for us by the representative of Lithuanian National Agency, Aistė.
At the very beginning we started out going for a hike around the lake area, fulfilling specific tasks. They all had to do with moving your inner boundaries and reconsidering your personal limits. I personally managed to gather my courage and initiate a very specific conversation about the Soviet times with local elderly people – all in Russian! The experience was definitely out of my comfort zone and I felt ecstatic to have broken that barrier. I would even go as far as saying that moving your barriers and limitations makes you closer with people, which is exactly what we need these days. After every activity we were given enough space to reflect on our decisions and behavior, more importantly the mentors encouraged us to discover what we have learnt in each and every one of them.
Another outstanding experience for me was the letter we were supposed to write to ourselves knowing what we know now and having our current expectations. This letter will later be sent to us by other participants of the training. What a perfect way to check on your goals and aspirations! Are we wasting our time here or building our lives? Are we pursuing our specific aims and following our designated Learning Plans or jogging our chum-chums in Que Pasa every Friday? This is entirely up to each and every one of us and this on-arrival training was there to help us find our way.
Text and photogallery: Tatiana Kováčová
Name of the project “Democracy and art intertwined: working towards empowered and active LGBT community and allies in Lithuania” under the Erasmus+ programme EVS (European Voluntary Service).