14 Apr 2019

“Share the opportunities” - My EVS experience in Latvia

Hello! My name is Beka Beriashvili, I’m from Georgia and from 05.08.2018 until 01.04.2019 (8 months) I lived and worked as a volunteer in Latvia, town of Balvi. My main workplace was Balvi Children and Youth Center, besides that depending on the needs of the project I also worked in Vilaka municipality, primarily at Vilaka School and several other places in the municipality.
My EVS project was about non-formal education, so as a volunteer my main tasks were to organize and execute different kinds of activities for the youth, the activities that would’ve been funny, interesting and informative for them, all connected to the main idea of non-formal education. Of course my responsibilities also included helping my co-workers to execute their own ideas and planned activities.
I started with outdoor activities, weather in August was fantastic and more or less it remained like that until mid-October. I organized football tournaments for the local youth, that helped me to get to know them better and to kinda “introduce” myself to the local community as a whole. Meanwhile our center also organized and carried out many fascinating events, activities and parties for locals. In October weather got worse, so my activities moved indoors. I’ve created several Kahoot questionnaires about sports and modern-day events and administered them at BBJC to local teens. With my co-workers help I’ve hosted several “Georgian days” during my EVS, mostly at BBJC but also outside the main workplace, Vilaka school and various local Youth Centers. On these national days I cooked some traditional dishes from our cusine, made presentations about Georgia, gave the local youth all kinds of information about my country, mostly touristic but also some history and alphabet (Yeah, people like our alphabet and they always asked me to write something, it was great :D ). On national days we always had a lot of fun. In parallel regime I started to go to Vilaka school on Mondays and with 1st graders and 7th graders assemble and program metal and plastic constructors of various type, size and shape. I think these activities were educational and productive for both - myself and the kids, you don’t get to see and assemble 500 EUR constructors everyday :). I remember only 1 day when we couldn’t assemble the vehicle in time, on any other day our work was a success.
Latvian kids are smart, talented and well-behaved (take note Georgia!) so I’m sure all of them have a bright future ahead. During my EVS occasionally I also had to do some digital stuff, creating diploma templates, banners and etc. To be honest it was nothing good, I don’t like what I’ve created but purely as a new experience doing them and learning something new with every try was really good, I wouldn’t have done it at home so thanks to my project for this opportunity.
Co-workers, the other volunteer and project coordinator now, I won’t get tired of writing how good they are, all of them. From my first day there it’s been “what can we do to make your life better” attitude towards me, they were very attentive and every time I asked something they always reacted immediately. On a personal level they are also great people, I’m very happy that I met them and know them personally now. I’m sure everyone who will go to Balvi as a volunteer under this project will have a great time, with the people who are part of it it’s guaranteed.
Lastly I would like to thank to everyone who made possible for me to be part of my project, to both organizations. A special thanks to my Latvian project coordinator and the people who work at BBJC. I’m also grateful to other people in Balvi and Vilaka municipalities with whom I had a professional relationship in my time there. It was a very special chapter of my life and will remain like that forever.

2 Apr 2019

Nini's EVS story from Latvia

I am Nini and I was volunteer in Latvia, Jurmala. My project duration was 6 months and I want to evaluate my being here, project itself and want to share my experience and emotions to those who want to take part in this amazing experience of EVS.
My project started in August and me and another girl from Georgia came here to work in the youth organization called  Jurmalas youth and children initiative center. As it was summer and after school activities were not that actual at that time period, our organization gave as a task to work in the youth camp, where we designed different games and activities for children aged 10-15. our activities included indoor and outdoor activities on the amazing beach of Jurmala. I want to say a few words about the incredible beauty of Latvia. It is an amazing country, mostly valleys. Jurmala is quite big and long city along the Baltic sea. Beach is covered with white pleasant sand so in summer it is a great opportunity to swim, get sun ten and enjoy the weather. Riga, the capital city of Latvia, is very near to Jurmala (40min by train). It is the cultural center of Latvia as well. So if you want to buy clothes, go to the theater, or go to the cinema, it is better to visit Riga for that purposes.

Before I arrived here I saw on the internet that people are very shy and closed to new relationships in Latvia and I was little worried about that, but in reality, it is not the case. I think it is just a cultural difference. At first, you may feel that they are cold and closed but, it is because we Georgians are very outgoing and expressive. After some time you will understand that difference and make new friends.
During my project I had an opportunity to explore and travel around the country, I saw amazing places and made new friends. That is incredible.
I would say that everybody most tries EVS during lifetime because it gives a great competence. And gives you the opportunity to find out new skills in yourself, and all of it is a part of non-formal education, that means that you are learning through doing.
Till now I found out, that I can make perfect khachapuri without Georgian cheese, I am making dinner every day (that seemed impossible for me). I communicate freely in English and developed Russian skills as well. And yes, knowing Russian really helps here, because more than 30 % of the population are Russians.
When the school year started our responsibilities changed, our main task was to create new projects for youngsters and make publications about that.
I organized several projects here for youngsters: for example yoga class, psychology club, meditation lessons, Georgian language classes, board game night, Halloween party and I managed jewelry making workshops and Georgian food making class.

EVS is an experience that I will never forget and I advise you to try it and you will be amazed because what I wrote here is only one percent of what I actually experienced, what I actually learned about the new culture and most importantly about myself.
I want to say very big thanks to both of my sending and receiving organizations for supporting me in every phase of my project.

Nini's host organisation was Jūrmala Children and Youth Interest Center

Project supported by Erasmus Plus programm - European Voluntary Service