Ambassadors of European Values

My name is Carmen and this is a story of my year in France Bordeaux. So for the beginning I am going to tell you how  I ended up as a volunteer in the first place. When I was 15 years old, I had my first youth exchange and after that I fell in love with travelling and meeting people all over the world. Ever since then I have taken part of 6 exchanges. Fast forward  to 12th grade when everyone was thinking about universities and what to study next but my head was elsewhere – my dream was to work as a volunteer, and because of that I ended up taking a gap year and going to France to be an “Ambassador of European Values” for the House of Europe in Bordeax. 

So, on 3rd of September I found myself in the capital of wine.  We started off things easy. Our organization gave us time to settle in and meet the city. We were staying in a student residence apartments where I shared my flat with a Romanian girl. All together there were 14 EVS people from six countries and in addition to that our organization had recruited ten civil service volunteers..

Meeting with civil service volunteers

All the volunteers together

Since our main tasks where to talk about European Union and everything that concerns it we had to go through educational lectures/workshops made by professors and other specialists. This prepared us very well for the future jobs and made us more professional.

After the preparation, it was time to start working. We were all divided into groups of three people. Our daily job included going to different schools where we made interesting workshops for kids on European matters or about our countries and culture in general. 

Besides working in schools, we got to do other exciting activities. For example, collaborating with Unicef to organize a day for kids packed with exciting activities. Working with the local town hall to help organize an international energy conference, and the luckiest ones got to go to Wales for a study visit.

A day with Unicef

But the most anticipated and perhaps scariest moment for me and my fellow Estonian volunteer was February or should I call it the month of Estonia. Our mission at that time was to prepare a cultural night with Estonian food and presentation made entirely in French. Doing something like that generally does not scare me but the problem was the language. I went to France without knowing the language and at that point it was still not good. In addition to our presentation we had to cook Estonian foods. It was a struggle to find black bread but other than that our efforts paid off and the food was delicious. In the end the hard work paid off and everything went smoothly.

My year as a volunteer was not only work and no fun. I managed to do a lot of travelling around France and also abroad. I met so many new people from all over the world with who I connected and am staying in contact even though I am back in Estonia.

In conclusion, my year as a volunteer was so much more then just working in France, It was a growing experience that shaped me into a person I am today. I am far from finished being a volunteer and I hope that while in university I find other projects where I can contribute to the society. Once a volunteer, always a volunteer! 

This Project was financed by European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme