I thought about how can I help to give some feedback to all participants after finishing my EVS project. So I tried to describe some specific problems, which I saw from my perspective and give them attention.
The most intensive moments, where I get into this question were two seminars, where we meet with another volunteers from different parts of Germany. It was very interesting to see how different the seminars were from each other.
The first one was more or less at the start of our voluntary service in Germany. We all were full of confusion and expectations about what will happen this year. The most important thing for me was listening to the stories of other people, how they get into their projects. Some of them were very young (around 19, 20), some of them were already on the limit of the age of EVS volunteers (that means around 30). Usually they were people who didn´t know what to do with their life. There were stories like: I didn´t know what to do after school or I cannot find a job in my country etc. More or less not very happy stories of young people. But not very unusual as well. The coaches of the meetings tried to motivate young people about how they get to this point and where they want to continue their life. Also to take this year as an adventure, which will not be forgotten. But from what I remember, the atmosphere of the meeting was quite nice with a lot of new contacts (which were never been used), etc.
After this the EVS itself was the the content of the meetings: Some of the people took some random work, just because that was the actual offer or to learn a German in a good way. I think I met just a few people who chose their EVS because they are really into this topic and kind of work. The problem in this situation might be that a lot of companies take EVS volunteers as cheap workers who are donated by the European Union. And that system works quite good, because the volunteers as well as the employer do not pay a lot of money, so everyone is more or less satisfied. The problem is that sometimes the content of the work of volunteers is not really what they expected. I met some people, who really had to clean all the time or did some inferior jobs. And I think in this point it starts to be not fair. Because the volunteer is used and also does not know, how he should react or what his duties and rights are. Of course the EVS is trying to help these people and they have some special coaches to figure out these problems, which is great.
But the most interesting part for me became the second meeting which was for some of us just a few weeks before finishing our EVS. The relationships here between volunteers were not so excited and the atmosphere was really different. I would say a bit sad and ironic in the same time. The point of meeting was to see, what happened this year, where did we move on and what did we plan to do after that. The problem was that some of the young people took the EVS not very seriously. It was a kind of holiday full of meeting new friends and parties and now come back to the situation, which was here one year ago: what to do with your life. In this case I do not see EVS as really rewarding part of the life, because it is just the break in the adulthood, which has to be filled anyway. It became some kind of holding of the student life instead of using it as a year for your career and self development, which should be already focused as much as possible on a next steps, which you are planning to do after EVS. I do not want to be so strict in my “judgement”, because sometimes it is really fine to leave your normal, stereotypical life and try something really different, but from my perspective it was not really common reason of the EVS volunteers, which I meet. After that I was bit sorry for the leaders of the second EVS meeting. They tried to see it in positive way, how this year was, what it might brought to our future lifes. But it looked more like cheering up.
My point in this article is not that I want to criticize this Erasmus+ project or to complain about employer organisations. Not at all. I would just like to support the applicants of the future EVS to choose their project very carefully maybe with a bit bigger responsibility to their own lifes. To use this Service in the all possibilities which it offers and if they are not satisfied with their special Programs, to be really straight to bosses and change the princip of the work. EU is not trying to donate cheap employers, but give us opportunity to do something for the employer organization but also to let the organization do something for you. Use your special talent of exact human being. It should be a platform where all participants are winners.