“HAPPINESS is having a large. loving, caring, close-knit family in ANOTHER COUNTRY”
My name is Givanna and I am 21 years old. I would like to share my experience in the European Voluntary Service, and how what began as an “experience of personal growth” (and these are already big words), ended up becoming the best experience ever.
In June of last year I started to look for summer projects, and on the recommendation of a friend, I found the EVS (European Voluntary Service). There was a project called HAND IN HAND, it would take place in Liepāja (a city in the coast of Latvia), during the summer, in the months of July and August. The heart of this project was to carry out activities in a summer camp for children. That’s already a challenge for me because I had never worked with children. Or at least, not more than one. But I would not be alone, I would have to live and work during those months with other volunteers. In total, we would be 9 people: 3 from Spain, 3 from Portugal and 3 from Germany.
I didn’t hesitate even one second, I sent my application for to be part of this experience, and fortunately, I was selected. You can imagine my mother’s face when I told her, “Mom, in two weeks I will go to Latvia!”. I can imagine what kind of thoughts went through her mind: but where is it, my daughter will go and she will never come back I KNOW HER, I must say a few words to Atteneri (by the way, Atte, I owe you a lot and a thank you as big as you). Just to know, Atte is the friend who recommended me the EVS and the responsible person for my follow in Latvia, because she works in my Sending Organization, INDICOT. And no, this is not like “I will take my luggage and let’s go”, like a crazy. You need to follow a process.
With my suitcase full of energy, my canaryenglish and my insurance in my pocket (because without insurance, my mother didn’t let me go out of Tenerife, of course), I was on my way to Latvia. And blessed be the hour that I did it.
I can only say that for me Latvia, but especially Liepāja, it caught me. It caught me and changed me completely. It is not just an interesting experience, it’s unforgettable. The people with whom I shared that time, and I am not talking only about the volunteers, but also about my bosses, and my children, they made it perfect. The stereotype exists that people are very cold in these Nordic countries, is a lie. The way of thinking and doing things is different, yes, maybe. But never in my life, I had given or received so many hugs, love and affection as here. And I write “here” because today, at 17th of April, 2015, I’m in Liepāja. When I said that it caught me, I said it seriously. And now it came to my mind the words of my mother, “my daughter is going and she will not come back, I KNOW HER.”
I couldn’t finish so soon, two months were not enough for me. I could feel how much I had changed, but so much, that I couldn’t stop. For me, there are two choices in this life, or evolve (with the risk that entails) or anchored. And I already had been anchored for a long time and didn’t want continue like that. I risked, I stopped my studies, I decided it was time to see how capable I was being away from my comfort zone. And for a second time, I am doing a long-term EVS. And then… who knows.
I have learnt a lot during these 10 months. I feel inside of me, there is a Latvian eager to continue growing. I have learnt how to jump the holes and catch air on the hills, to know where my limits are, and I can proudly say now, they are not so many. Although I still have a lot of work. But I have by my side, persons who constantly give me lessons, persons that have become very important pillars of my life. Who? children, my children. You know that quote “the child’s curiosity who philosophize with his eyes” which are the only ones who know what they are looking for. It is completely true. Sometimes we ignore how much we can learn from them. Now, I really think that I can propose myself whatever, and above all, that I can do it. Fishes can fly just if they think they can do it. So, let’s fly.
A year ago I didn’t know what to do with my life. I have done so many things, trying to find what I really wanted to be and do. Anchored. And now I just hope to enjoy every last second of this amazing experience, and then start from cero, because now I know where I’m going and what I really want to do. I am full of positive energy, for me, and for those who need it. Because of that, I want to tell you one thing… Don’t to be afraid. Fear is the only thing holding us back. Don’t be afraid to discover. Living is learning, and learning is always a challenge.
“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”
P.S: Luiza, Joao, Kathy, Samira, Stephanie, Luisina, Isabel, Ivan … For you, I have only thankful words. The title of this article has a meaning and is because of you. And to my new mates, keep doing like this, we still have many things to live.