Hello everyone, I’ve come to Daugavpils just a month ago, so there is not too much to say about my experience as a volunteer, but I had the chance to make an impression about the city. The first day, when I arrived in Riga, I was surprised by the sky: it looked so close to the earth, like a big dome. Anyway, I couldn’t visit Riga (but I’m going to go there as soon as I can, that’s for sure) because I was in a hurry and I had to catch the train to Daugavpils. You have to know that if you come from Italy the journey is really long, because there are not connected flights between Daugavpils airport and Italy, so you must fly to Riga.
The city is not really big, and the architecture is almost cheap: you can see soviet buildings everywhere, alternate with tipical Latvian small wood houses in bright colors; the city center is quite fascinating: there you can walk on the pedestrian Rigas Iela, where you can find nice cafes and shops, or go to the two big shopping centers in the main square.
If you go in 18 Novembra Iela, about 10 minutes from the city center by tram (but you can go there by feet), you can see the biggest Orthodox Church in Latvia, devoted to the saints Boris and Gleb, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Martin Luther, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and the House of Prayer of the Daugavpils First Old Believers’ Community. These churches have been built on the same hill and they’re close to each other.
So much impressive is the fortress of the city- at least, they call it fortress but in fact it’s a citadel. There you can also visit the museum dedicated to Mark Rothko, an American painter with Russian Jewish background, born in Daugavpils under the Russian Empire, when the name of the city was Dvinsk.
If you come here in June, then you should see the Ligo celebration on the night between the 23rd and 24th of the month.
You can understand how important the position of the Latvian country is when you understand how it’s easy, fast and cheap to go to the other Baltic capitals; the geopolitical situation is not easy since there are tensions between NATO eastern countries and Russia, but, despite this unhappy and uncertain situation, Daugavpils still remains such a pleasant place to live in. The flat they’ve given to me is big and comfortable, even if at the beginning it was not easy to adapt because the old furniture and the lack of different stuff, but everything got better; the people are really kind, and if you get lost, or you need something, they always help.
The transportation system works very well, trams and buses are always on time and the tickets are really cheap- at least, they’re absolutely cheaper than in Italy!
At the moment there is a summer school for children: there are many activities for them. This work is not easy, but I like it, even when the children don’t listen to you or begin to quarrel, because they don’t care if your Russian may sound a little strange, and they’re always affectionate. The project is called В мире животных, and, of course, the activities are concerned to let the children understand animals’ world with games, open-hair activities, handicraft and videos. Really interesting was the visit at the zoo, where they had the chance to see different exotic animals and to touch some of them.
In July is beginning the second summer school: the main topic this time is music. In August I’m participating to another project, Viva Lingua, about different languages and cultures: it is a youth exchange with young people from different countries.
If you’re interested in EVS project, then you should choose Daugavpils: everything here is good and nice, the food, the people, the beer, the lakes, the woods and so much else!
Gabriele Gerardi, Italy