Labdien! My name is Julius and I am working currently as a volunteer here in Latvia. My project is part of the European Voluntary Service which offers me the opportunity to experience a new culture and to support the society with my work in the youth centre “KarostaKids”, as well as a German and English teacher in schools.
Arriving on the 1st of october, I spend now around five months living, discovering and enjoying latvia. My first impression was really controverse: On the one hand, I experience a beautiful country with fascinating traditions and unbelievable food. On the other hand, I discovered the immense tension and difference between Latvians and Russians, as well as the spreading poverty in special parts of the country. The people I met so far, Latvians and Russians, are really open, sometimes a little bit short of word but in general friendly and supporting. I was pleased by the new experience and the new way of life which lay in front of me.
After five months of living here, I feel confident to say I discovered not just the social differences, I also understood the causes of it. A strong sense of national consciousness as well as a feeling of oppression on both sides, the Latvian and Russian side, playing an important role in the conflict which already lasts for several years. Latvia is now in the European Union which took them a step farther away from Russia but closer to restore the peace and independence of their own and uprising country.
My work in the youth centre “KarostaKids” offers me the opportunity to face social inequalities and most importantly to remove them. I work with kids from socially disadvantaged backgrounds which struggling with life on a daily base. A lot of kids and teenagers face poverty, sexual abuse or parental violence caused by excessive alcohol and drug abuse. The kids and teenagers do not have a home or a person which supports them for their future life. The result is a life on the streets, in criminal activities or in poverty. In “KarostaKids” we are targeting those problems and offering every kid and teenager an individual support but most importantly a home. The slogan “Creativity instead of Criminality” expresses our values and shows our motivation to support their education in any kind of way. The organisation is based on christian values which was at first a completely different experience for me. Now, I am happy to say that I really enjoy the lovely atmosphere and the kindness of every person their. My experience I made at “KarostaKids”, helped me to grow personally and the gain an new perspective of the world. I enjoy working there a lot and I am happy to go to Karosta every day.
My work as a English and German teacher in school is really interesting but also quiet stressfull. Keeping a horde of 10 year energetic and motivated can be taff sometimes, but also quiet stimulating when you see the positive outcome of your lesson.
My project in the European Voluntary Service not just offers me to experience Latvia,it also offers me to discover other countries and to travel all around Europe. I visited cities like Dublin, Glasgow, Vilnius and Riga which strengthen my sense of european awareness as well as my cultural knowledge. Not just visiting other countries but mostly meeting international people, was one of the main reason why I decided to take on the challenge to live for one year in Latvia.
So far, I am pleased by the amount of amazing people I met and the friendships I created. I enjoy my work, may sport and may life here in Latvia and I hope to discover even more about this fascinating country.