evs @ erfolg

A multilingual blog about the life as a volunteer in the Latvian organisation Erfolg

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Arrival Training (15/05 – 19/05)

Sveiki visiem!

Hoy me he decidido a destapar el tarro de las esencias y hablar del arrival training. Para situaros, el Servicio de Voluntariado Europeo es una experiencia financiada por la Union Europea (usease, cuando no se puede mamar de la teta del Estado se busca la institucion inmediatamente superior), que tiene como finalidad ofrecer una experiencia de aprendizaje no formal para organizaciones que precisan la ayuda de voluntarios en una serie de actividades especificas. Este servicio, que se realiza normalmente dentro de los países miembros, cubre todos los gastos del voluntario y tiene una duración comprendida entre 6 y 12 meses (en mi caso es de 12 meses). Puede que no lo sepáis, pero Letonia es un país muy generoso y va a regalarme un invierno con temperaturas que no superan los 0 y con medias que oscilan entre -15º y -25º, es lo que tiene la generosidad…



El arrival training  es como un concierto de Rafael con Falete como telonero, basicamente todo un delirio. El arrival es el regocijo de comerte un plato de los montes con el añadido de que los otros voluntarios, curtidos en estas lides, suelen expresarte la envidia que generas por escaparte 5 días a ponerte tibio en el más amplio sentido de la palabra. Formalmente, esta formación inicial sirve para conocer todo lo relacionado con los derechos y obligaciones del voluntario, fomentando así que disfrutes de tu voluntariado sin que la peña te tonguee demasiado. Al fin y al cabo, tu estas prestando un servicio y ellos reciben dinero de la UE para que no te falte de nada.

P1070594He estado en algunas experiencias de este tipo y he de reconocer que nunca he visto un programa tan bien preparado.  Cualquier dinamica o ejercicio tenia un paralelismo con situaciones reales y utilizabamos los juegos de mesa (Dixit, Ligretto…) como recurso habitual para explicar ideas. La unica pena es que no respetasen el horario de la siesta. Pero bueno, nadie es perfecto…


La convivencia con los otros voluntarios, inmejorable. Imagínate, un revoltijo de lenguas latinas (francés, italiano, portugués y español) y una mezcla de personalidades y caracteres  de lo más cómico. De hecho, en muchas ocasiones nos hacíamos entender mejor hablando en nuestro idioma que expresándonos en ingles. Además, a lo largo del programa tuvimos tiempo para todo: presentaciones de paises, visitas a Riga, comilonas con platos tipicos y sobre todo mucha fiesta… Ademas, ni que decir tiene, que siempre es un placer saber que tienes casa libre en cualquiera de los países.  Como bien dice mi colega malagueño en Riga: “En el arrival formas tu primera familia en Letonia”.


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Goodbye Latvia

Four days remaining in Latvia. Hard to not think to departure.
Did I change? I never was confident but I would like, it seems to be nice. Sorry for irony but I love it, it’s my shield.
Did I change? I will answer you later.

I lived one year in Latvia, I want come back to France and I don’t want. I want because I have nothing new to discover in Latvia and nothing new to do in Erfolg, I don’t want because I have my friends and my routine hier.
Actually, my EVS was divided in two parts: the first one was from May, 2014 to August, 2014 and the second one is from September, 2014 to May, 2015.
I already mentioned in a previous article that my first two months in Latvia were difficult for various reasons, but the second part was full of laughs, travels, evenings, beers… and work, of course! Due to that, I realized that we, European youngsters, are different each other but we like the same movies, the same music, we have the same dreams.
Despite of that, I also realized if you are shy, you are nothing in this world because people are only interesting in people who speak every time, even if they bullshits. If you don’t speak, you are not interesting. That’s why I was not comfortable with other volunteers, only with my French and Latvian friends because I could be myself with them and we spend many funny times together so maybe I’m not so bad… Now, I better understand the difficulties of European Union to unify countries and ensure solidarity, cohesion, exchanges between all populations.

Avec Audrey

Nevertheless, I loved my EVS experience, I have any regrets!
I saw another mentality: my Latvian friends are poor but they enjoy life, they go eating, drinking, bowling or playing pool, etc. They put aside work stress, problems of everyday life for a short time and they just enjoy of what life gives them. In France, we are richer than them but we save money for holiday or future projects instead of enjoy the moment. Furthermore, they are so generous! I can’t count how many beers my Latvian friends paid me, telling me:”no, it’s for me, it’s ok, it’s normal”; they also showed me some interesting places in Daugavpils, teached me Latvian traditions, opened me their houses, introduced me their families and gave me gifts for my departure.

They are the reason why I don’t want to leave Latvia.


I’m sorry again, this article is disorderly but I have many things to say; generally, I’m demanding with myself but I will leave Latvia in four days so I just want to enjoy my last days there and don’t worry for everything.
Did I change? I would like to tell you yes but I think the answer is no. I’m more confident but except that? I improved my English and what? I’m still shy and kind, I have still the same opinions about the world and people. I must say though that my mentality was changed; when I will be in France, I will take more time to enjoy life and spent more time with my friends and my family instead of spending time at my workplace.

People are more important than anything.

The best

A Latvian friend, Renat, a funny boy, told me on Facebook ”When you are happy, we are happy”; it’s Latvian mentality: do all what you can and mainly take time to make happy your friends, even if you have any money or something else to do.
My Latvian friends, extraordinary people called Renat, Astrida, Natalija, Irina, Ilma, Жанна, Mikhails, told me several times “Don’t forget us”; it’s my turn to ask them:

“Don’t forget me”

by Amandine

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A review of the past year

Almost one year ago, on the 16th of May 2014 I arrived in Latvia and started my EVS. Soon my project ends and as usually in such situations I think a lot about the last year. I just live through everything again in my head.
The beginning was not easy all alone in a foreign country and a bit homesick. But especially other volunteers helped me to feel comfortable and settle in and since I arrived in the beginning of summer, everything was green and sunny and Daugavpils looked like a nice place to me. Soon I had my first big tasks in “Erfolg”, the summer festivity “Zoomaifest” and the coordination of children’s schools. Particularly the work with the children I liked a lot and also the teamwork with other volunteers from different countries was nice. Besides, after three weeks, I had my on-arrival training which helped me to understand better the system of EVS and connected me with other volunteers from all over Latvia. In this time I also did my first trips. I travelled to Tartu in Estonia as well as to the Latvian countryside to celebrate the Latvian midsummer “Ligo”. All in all I felt like having arrived and settled in.IMG_8633
But soon the first farewells already started. During my year abroad I had to say good bye many times: to volunteers who already finished their service or to locals, who started something new somewhere else. However, I also said welcome for a lot of times. New volunteers and other foreigners came to Daugavpils, I met other European volunteers during my travels and made friends with locals.
The year continued with further projects in “Erfolg”. Together with other volunteers I organized handicraft workshops, cultural events and children’s schools. I also took part in events of the society just like a German song festival or a seminar about German history in the Baltic States. My life in Daugavpils developed in a very good way. Together with my friends I discovered the city. We were like tourists in our hometown. I also discovered Latvia due to the plenty of trips I did. I visited other volunteers in their Latvian homes, I joined some events in other Latvian cities and also with my family and friends from Germany visiting me I travelled around. I can even say that I know the Latvian cities and geography better than the ones of my actual home country Germany.DSCN3553
In autumn the second seminar, the midterm evaluation took place. It was again a lot of fun to spend time in the countryside with other volunteers. We talked about our projects so far and also about reintegration back home. It was interesting and good to see, how other volunteers live through their services, how they also have challenges and problems and how they find a way to solve or deal with them. It was also in autumn and winter when I participated in youth exchanges organized by “Erfolg”. My tasks were to prepare the tea breaks, to take pictures and to write reports and each workday lasted for about 12 hours. But anyway, I enjoyed this part of my work because I met youngsters from many different European countries, I discovered their countries and cultures and got to know different points of view.
Over Christmas I returned back home to Germany to celebrate this holiday with my family. It was nice to see everybody again and it gave me also new power for my life abroad. I decided to spend New Year with other foreigners in Latvia’s capital Riga and it was a good decision. I can say that it was one of my best starts in a new year. The time afterwards just went by so quickly. These 5 months seem to me like 1 month. Nevertheless, this does not mean that nothing happened during this time. At work, I had some more handicraft workshops and cultural events going on and in the Easter school holidays we organized another children school which was again fun. Apart from this, I also took part in a few projects happening in the city. I was a reader in a friend’s project called “Reading in the Tram” and helped another volunteer who was touring around with a bus promoting the European Union and its projects and benefits. Thanks to my mentor, who was so kind to invite me for Easter to her family’s place, I spend this holiday in the Latvian countryside. I experienced the Latvian way of celebrating this feast – literally, we ate a lot of good food.
To use the last possibility of travelling and to finish my service with an unforgettable trip I travelled to Saint Petersburg. It was easier than I thought to get a visa, the night train was unexpectedly comfortable and the city itself is very impressive. I even could use my little Russian skills.IMG_3767
Now I have one week left to do everything that still has to be done. I have to finish my last tasks at work and I try to meet my friends as often as I can. Moreover, I will do some last errands before I finally pack my stuff together and have to say goodbye to Daugavpils and Latvia.

by Sophie


My first days in Daugavpils

Hi everybody!

I’m pleased to present you my first post. First of all, if you come to Latvia from Spain you have to be patient because there is a long journey. Affortunately I prepared my mind with three important things: mp3 with good music, my notebook and some food to calm my stomach.

When I arrived in Daugavpils, Edgars, my mentor, picked me up on the bus station and helped me with everything related to the acoommadation in my flat. At the beginning there was a long weekend and I couldn’t start my voluntary service so I decided to discover the city by myself and buy some interesting stuffs for my life here.


Daugavpils theater

On Sunday I went to Riga and I could discover the capital of Latvia. It is a very nice place with a lot of things to do. For instance, I visited the National Latvijas nacionālais māklas muzejs with the temporal exhibition “Magnetism of Provence“ a very interesting chance to see the works of such legendary personalities of the art world as Renoir, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall or Pablo Picasso (the last one was born in my city, Malaga).


Pablo Picasso


On Tuesday I started my voluntary service in the organization. They were very kind and we were talking about the rules in Erlolg and some ideas to develop my Evs in a succesfull way. Finally, I met to Amandine and Sophie and they gave me some ideas to continue their service here in the organization. For now, that is all. I will write again soon. I promise it.

by Javier