Volunteering experience (EVS, CSDS)

Many people around us are curious about our volunteering experience. Therefore we would like to share some information about the project and our work in Hanoi.

All three of us came to Hanoi within the EU project European Voluntary Service (EVS) (https://europa.eu/youth/EU/voluntary-activities/european-voluntary-service_en).

EVS  project is for young, active Europeans willing to experience new countries, cultures, language and travel the world while helping local community. Volunteers participate in EVS through a Sending Organization in the country where they live and a Receiving Organization that receives and hosts them during their period of service. Projects last from 2 weeks to 12 months, and as a volunteer you can work in a wide range of fields, such as culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare, environment and development cooperation.

The biggest advantage of EVS is that most of your expenses will be covered, e.g. accommodation, visa fees, food, insurance, vaccination and pocket money

You have two options how to participate in EVS: you can choose one of the projects that is already approved by EU or you can write your own project. We chose the first option and that’ s why we met together with Marta and Ania in Hanoi – in CSDS (Center for Sustainable Development Studieshttp://csds.vn/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlOLpxGjSxY)

CSDS is a NGO that helps local community within their own projects or as a support for other local NGOs. The main issues of CSDS is development in Vietnam, climate change, environment protection, women empowerment, children support, youth development through international exchange and non-formal education.

As regards our work in CSDS, basically in CSDS they are trying to find the biggest potential in you and place you in the project that fits you the best. If you have any preferences they are respectful and support you with all your decisions. There are more than 20 volunteers from different countries of the world living together with us in the house and all of us work on different projects.

I and Marta are teaching English local university students within the CSDS project English Community Classes. We also teach in other NGOs such as Stand by you and Nha Am. Besides teaching, all of us work on different community projects, I help with marketing in CEPEW. Marta and Ania work on eco-tourism project for ethnic minorities outside of Hanoi. Ania also supports  projects in SOCI HUB, such as  workshops and other  events for local communities.

In the beginning, the placement was a challenge, but now all of us feel comfortable and happy about our work. Working with university students is really amazing experience. All of them are very excited to learn something new and to spend time with foreigners, Education is non-formal, which gives us a lot of space to play games, discuss interesting topics, do outdoor activities and actually bulid a relationship with them…

From our personal experience, I can’t imagine better staff than the one in CSDS. All of them are very friendly, careful and ready to help us with any obstacles we have with our volunteering or everyday life in Mai Dich (part of Hanoi where we live). Believe or not, it is not as easy as it seems to live in neighborhood where almost nobody speaks English (which would be probably ok if we speak Vietnamese) and where everyday something totally unexpected happens (e.g. no electricity, no water, Vietnamese local radio announcing local news at 5AM, rat in your toilet, lizard in your bathroom and much more…) But thanks to all the great people working in CSDS all the problems became just funny memories.

I have been here for a few months already but since my first moments in Vietnam, I felt very welcomed. It is a nicely strange feeling to be a foreigner in Vietnam – besides appreciation we also receive a lot of invitations to take pictures with locals that give us a feeling of movie stars :P. However, whenever we mentioned that we are volunteers, people were very thankful that we came to help them. Ironically, I felt that it’s not just us that is going to help locals but also Vietnam that is helps us and reminds us:

– to be happy about every single moment in our life; be grateful that we can study or that we have a job; to appreciate moments with our family and friends; to respect our parents; to have a random conversation with people that are not the same age or not even speaking your language but you can still have a great time together without any prejudices; to be patient in the traffic; to be eco-friendly 🙂  (take a shower with 1,5l of water and live without electricity few hours everyday); not to complain; to be yourself

Thank you EVS, KERIC and CSDS for this great opportunity. I am sure that experiences we gained thanks to this project will help us not just in our future career but in our personal and social life.

And for those of you that are considering taking part in EVS, there is nothing to think about. JUST DO IT!

Klara 🙂

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