Découvrez les témoignages de nos jeunes en Service Volontaire Européen après le premier mois à Coutances!
EVS for a sustainable future
9 mai 2017 – 8 juillet 2017
Projet soutenu par le programme européen ERASMUS +
1 month as an EVS Volunteer in Coutances Iñaki (Espagne)
It’s all about the journey, not the destination. Who would say my journey would go through a little town in Lower Normandy called Coutances? After a month here it still feels unreal, like a bubble out of the “real” world, but it is not, it is happening and it is leaving a clear mark in my mind and soul.
I feel really lucky to have found a place like Coutances, in which you can feel and breathe tranquility and peacefulness. The surroundings are also remarkable and the politeness of the people completes the atmosphere.
The experience of living in a beautiful natural area of France, with infinite beaches, green fields and little hidden forests wouldn’t be complete without an association like AVRIL in which sustainability, environmental education and culture shake hands. The association counts with a really motivated team, always there to help you, people interested in nature and education, eager to share their knowledge and their lives with you. To them we owe a big part of our adventure.
As my interest in these topics has been growing unstoppable in the last years it is being a great chance to acquire knowledge and experience. Everyday here feels like a challenge: work with kids, participation in chantiers, volunteering in a Jazz festival, communication in French…
…and challenges exist to accept them, they help with your personal growth, which is the final objective of EVS and of every experience in life.
My story about participating in a short term EVS project here in Coutances actually started in the United Kingdom. For half a year I spent my days working as a home care assistant and for a long while I was really craving some exciting changes in my life. And there it was – a Facebook post from an old acquaintance who participated in this project previously and, since AVRIL was looking for a Latvian participant, highly recommended for others to apply. So I did. Fortunately for me I got approved and now a month of my presence here has passed by so quickly!
During this period, I have faced some bigger and smaller challenges that include language barrier, staying open minded, sharing a room, organizing my meals and expenses, public speaking, having a very limited wardrobe (I squeezed all my belongings into one hand luggage), traveling around Normandy, especially participating in activities with children and working in “chantiers” has been something very different for me. Everything I have experienced has helped me grow more as a person. Also, physically I feel a little bit more confident about myself. It might sound silly, but working on building fences and cutting trees has made me trust myself more, as in, I know that I AM ABLE to dig, to nail, to screw, to cut, to lift heavy objects etc., things I haven’t got much chance to try before.
In a new place with new people, there aren’t many who would automatically assume that I can’t or I shouldn’t do these and other things, because of this or that reason. So you just do them and that’s refreshing. It’s a chance to show others and mainly yourself that outside of the usual comfort zone, there is this, an improved version of you possible.
I’ve always thought that the best way to improve ourselves is the cultural exchange. You can learn a lot from the others and you can teach a lot to others.
That’s why I decided to leave my town, my friends and my family and do something new and different from the boring daily life.
I knew EVS from internet and I read all the informations about it; immediately it seemed a serious institution and I noticed that everything was very well organized.
I chose the project and sent my CV; after one month I receveid the answer: I was the chosen one!
I’m italian and I left my country by plane to come to France. I arrived in Paris and after I took the train to go to a small town where my hosting organization is: Coutances.
During the first two days I met the other short-term volunteers who come from Spain, Portugal and Latvia and a long term voulunteer who come from Macedonia and who has been living in Coutances since October.
I live with the short-term volunteers in a big house with kitchen, washing machine and garden; the owners are very kind and the accomodation is perfect.
Our hosting organization gave us electric bikes so it is very easy to discover the city: there aren’t many young people, but it’s a nice place with a beautiful cathedral and many green places. We were too lucky because during our project there was a Jazz Festival and Coutances became a city of fun and music where enjoying events all the time.
It’s important to live in a good place, but it’s also important to work in a good association; in Avril I found very nice people. Our coordinator is Agi, she is funny and patient and she doesn’t hesitate to give us every kind of advices. I like also the other people who work in Avril: the animators involve us in every experience.
Our work consists on two different activities: the first one is to speak about our project in the schools and in the youth centers and the second one is to create something to safeguard the environment. I like to work outside and it’s easy to learn to do many things with the people of Avril.
Sometimes we have also some days off so I was able to visit many cities and some forests; I have learned a lot about normandian culture and it will for sure be a pleasure for me to continue discovering new things.
Sometimes I ask to myself, how lucky I am? I really believe that god loves me so much, because I can’t explain in another way how is possible so many beautiful things happened in my life!
I started that journey a bit afraid, changes make us all afraid, you are not sure about what you will find there, who will share that adventures with you… So, I arrived and on my first day, new things, new home, new city, new colleagues, I saw everything around me, I did a deep breath and I was sure that everything will be ok.
I try be positive all the time, for me everything happen for a reason, but my first impression was better than I can expect. I couldn’t be luckier!
I’m a curious person, be in France is a dream that came true! Is my 3rd time abroad and all my experiences was different and changed me a lot. Every day I learn something new, I’m so grateful for that opportunity, for be able to do different kind of activities, for work in the nature and give my contribute, for share my culture with kids, for share my experience with so many people, maybe be a inspiration for some of them and make them thinking more about mobility and a be more curious too. The world is so big, we have so many things to discover, to see, to learn, to share, etc.
Work in the nature is amazing! How many people can say that they have the sea or a nice forest like an office? OMG, everyday a big motivation to go to work! I’m passionate for sustainability and ecofriendly life style, be in AVRIL like a volunteer and give my contribution make me so happy, grateful and is a kind of fuel to keep alive!
European Voluntary Service is not about improve our CV, is about improve ourselves and work in a project that we believe! In another word, is about work with our heart! For sure is an experience that will change your life (like changed mine).
I will finish that project with my heart full of love for that country, for that region, for that association and for everyone that I meet during that time.
Normandy is a paradise, so green, so pure, so beautiful! Two months are not enough and I start to fell nostalgic about left. Anyway, I couldn’t be happier during that two months.
Thank you for everything AVRIL team.
A lucky girl,