Welcome to my blog documenting the 11 months I will be on European Voluntary Service (EVS) in Istria. I have been here for over a month now, so I am a little bit late with this, and the first couple of posts will be a quick recap of what has happened so far.
So, before coming here I was Daniel Sparling, a 24-year-old civil engineering graduate living and working as a structural engineer in Bristol. It was OK, I was getting good experience in an interesting job, with some responsibility, and it paid the bills. But who wants to be in a job just to pay the bills, when you could have all bills paid for you whilst doing something exciting and different in Croatia? Not me. So I quit. And now here I am.
OK, it wasn’t quite like that, there was an application process, and then a long wait once I’d been accepted before my project started. I should probably mention Concordia Volunteers (http://www.concordiavolunteers.org.uk/), and Nina Santi, who did all the hard work, and if you are inspired by anything and want your own EVS experience then get in touch with her (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now I am Daniel Sparling, a 25-year-old… person. I think that people should stop being defined by what they do, especially as here, as well as a volunteer, I am: a living dictionary and thesaurus; a photographer; an English teacher; film maker; language student and more.
A little bit about the project I am on. I am one of four volunteers at the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) of Brtonigla, in Istria, Croatia. The main theme of our project is “European awareness”; a vague description, and can probably be applied to all EVS projects, but doesn’t tell you much about what work will take place, and led to many more vague explanations from me before I left. I will be working on some of the LDA’s activities, with the aims of promoting active youth citizenship, including the production of promotional materials; setting up and running local events & festivals and doing presentations about the work of the LDA, and the EVS programme. These will raise awareness among local young people of the opportunities they have to travel, live, work and volunteer in the EU, especially now that Croatia is a full member. I will also work with other local institutions, such as the municipality of Buje, schools, kindergarten and Open University. These activities work towards increasing European awareness: knowledge of the EU and other countries and cultures; and the main goals of the EVS programme of promoting social cohesion, solidarity, tolerance and mutual understanding between people (especially young people) from different countries.
I am also being asked to contribute my ideas to the work of the LDA and to come up with personal projects, so I will have the chance to get creative and take responsibility for realising a project of my own, using my skills and based around my interests.