evs @ erfolg

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

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Six months in Latvia, I am in a half of my year here!

Time to go to Mid-term meeting

After six months spent in Latvia I had a chance to come back to Rāmavas muižā where I had spent 5 days on the on-arrival training. I am grateful how EVS is organized. In the middle of each project there is a meeting with other volunteers again, on the mid-term training. During this training volunteers have time to discuss how they have spent their time on EVS, how their projects have been going, how they feel about their experience and also if there are any problems or difficulties. Part of the training is the time to think what will happen when the EVS project finishes… It is the big question for everybody and it’s coming soon, if we want to or not.


In the beginning of December it has already been one month of winter in Latvia. Most of us aren’t used to such a long and cold winter. Both days we had a common feeling. We all miss the sun.


Most of us were at the same on-arrival training. We know each other and our projects. This time there were few more people coming that I didn’t know. We introduced ourselves and our projects and quickly got known each other and also the trainers.


We spent together three days with many activities that were prepared for us by really great trainers. The meeting was about all of us.  We returned in our mind to the beginning of our projects and we thought about the best and the worst moments during our projects. We were sharing the feelings and the problems and helping each other to find the view from the other side.  It has been three days with really emotional moments with a lot of fun and the most importantly a feeling of each other’s support.


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My EVS continues and I organised the Czech evening

My EVS continues and I organised the Czech evening

The 28th October 2016 is a bank holiday in the Czech Republic as it’s a day to remember the formation of the first Czechoslovakia Republic. I was glad to invite people for cultural Czech evening.  I was really happy a lot of local people came and also a lot of Czechs. I was lucky two Czech families were visiting Daugavpils the same time.


I wanted to present the part of Czech culture in my organization. I hope everybody who was there got to know something new about my country. I made a quiz about the Czech Republic. I asked about important facts from my country. Everybody now knows the famous Czech cartoons Bob and Bobek, Rakosníček and others… Also Czech famous people.

The same day there was a famous Czech sportsman Josef Zimovčák in Daugavpils. He rides velocipede and brought it with him to show us and also let the volunteer to try it. He has been racing on it and has also created endowment fund “Na kole dětem” to support oncology children patients.  I was happy he came and he presented himself and his achievements.


I prepares Czech food Hozovy buchty, Salty sticks, pomazánka, and brought Lázeňské oplatky. Visitors could also taste Czech beer and Becherovka, Czech spirit from Karlovy Vary.dsc07171

All evening was really nice, I was happy to see the people are interest in my country and our culture.


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The Youth Exchange project “Europe through all senses” took place in Daugavpils from the 3rd to the 12th of November 2016 in Daugavpils; the participants came from Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Portugal.

It was a pleasure for me to cooperate with Edgar, the head of the project, who allowed me to handle some of the activities: it was not easy, but I’m really satisfied about it, especially about the discussion club concerning different topics nowadays important in Europe and a workshop about painting and music.

The partakers affirmed that they liked, in particular, the city game and the tour by a private tram, which let them discover Daugavpils, the ice-breaking activities, the visit to the local museum of regional history and to the clay center and the theatrical realization of Lāčplēsis, the “bear slayer”, the poem wrote by Andrejs Pumpurs at the end of the XIXth century. I really enjoyed such activities myself; in my opinion, really important were the cultural evening: the participants had the chance to present their own Countries with videos, food, dances, quizzes and so on, which gave them the chance to share their own culture and to discover new ones, so it was an important opportunity to meet new people with different backgrounds.

Really important was also the Lāčplēša diena, or “the day of Lāčplēsis”, a national event which is celebrated every year on the 11th of November in all Latvia with a torch walk which carries on the name of the national hero who fought for the Country and actually with the purpose to memorialize the soldiers who fought in the war which burst out the following year against the Western Russian army (“Bermontians”) – so it’s not a commemoration for the end of World War I, but for the freedom of Latvia.

Further activities concerning the use of senses were planned, for example the taste and smell of different food with the eyes blindfolded. Much space was given to the participants to prepare their activities and to organize the farewell party, with the help of the “animal party” from each of the participating Countries; at the same time they all received their Youthpass certificate, then we had pizza, drinking games and a lot of fun together.

Gabriele Gerardi


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kopiya-main_photoYouth Exchange project Viva lingua – Language festival took place in Daugavpils from 22nd to 30th of August 2016; project participants came from Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Turkey.

I really enjoyed that time cooperating with Elvira, the head of the project, who allowed me to manage some of the activities: it was a great chance for me, it was somehow fun, even if it was not easy; actually I felt a little bit nervous about it, with almost thirty people staring at me, but that was a great possibility to break the ice and learn to be less shy and a little bit more “brave”.

The partakers affirmed that they liked, in particular, the city game, which allowed them to discover Daugavpils city, the ice-breaking activity, which I handled with pleasure, and the open space activity, which took place in Dubrovin Park – nearby the Daugavpils University building – gave participants the occasion to share their language and their culture with the local people. I really enjoyed these activities myself. In my opinion, really important were cultural evenings: the partakers had chance to present their own Countries with videos, food, dances and different linguistic activities – the real topic of the project. We had also tongue – twister challenge and so on. It was funny to help the Italian group to perform a scene from “The Godfather”, where I was a Russian mafia’s member (it happens when you know the language).

It was an important opportunity to meet new people and new cultures, within what they bring. For me it was also a great chance to improve myself, and, writing this article after more than a month, I’m really happy that it worked.

The last day of the project ended with a great farewell party: before the games and the karaoke in the Erfolg hotel, where the participants stayed, they all received their “Youthpass” certificate, a document which could be really useful because it shows clearly what the participant did and learned to do, throughout it is not so much well recognized and undervalued; they also received gadgets – I’m really happy about the cup I received, with a pic of us printed on it – and other gadgets in order to have memory of those days. I seriously hope to have the chance to take active part in projects like this again.


Gabriele Gerardi

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Kids in summer school and my experience


Music Summer school was my first summer school in which I collaborated all time. I really enjoyed the time with kids. It was quite long way to find how to get closer to them as I don’t speak Russian language yet. So there was a huge language barrier. The second week we played a funny game with a cup. It was good. During all the summer school I had just basic role to be with kids. I prepared small activities for them. I played football with them outside in the park and helped them with some tasks when they needed. Each week kids learned notes, music instruments, history of music and they sang a song. The first week it was Russian song Ничего на свете лучше нету! The second week it was some German song.  At the end the kids made a video where they sang the song. Kids did also a lot of arts and crafts activities. The best was a musical instrument from pieces of paper and straw and piano origami. We had also a gymnastic lesson. The teacher from gymnastic school came and played with kids. He showed them some excises. Then we visited the real music school where we had opportunity to try a lot of musical instruments. A lector led as to play all the instruments like the orchestra.  She taught kids some basic melodies on the piano and little bit of dancing. At the end the kids had a big opportunity to show what they knew. They sang and danced in talents competition. The challenged each other and competed who performed the best. They did all very well.

Monika Křivánková


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My first time in Latvia

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



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My beginning EVS in Daugavpils

It is nearly two weeks when I arrived to Daugavpils. This country enchanted me with the nature.  I’m not living in the city centre, but I have beautiful lake near to my home. It is just 30 minutes’ walk or I can take tram to go there. Daugavpils is not a big city but it has two big lakes which are exactly part of the city. In the city there are a lot of nice and comfortable coffee shops and also a lot of parks where it is nice to spend free time. People in Daugavpis are very kind to each other. In this time it is midsummer time and Latvian people celebrate this period a lot. The days are very long and we can spend time outside so long without darkness.

ERFOLG is my hosting organization. I am looking forward to participate on the exchange projects. Meet the new people from all around the world. Explore the Latvian culture and town.  Have interesting topic and program get new experience together and from each other. I would like to do some art workshop and some more projects with art.


During the summer I am participating on summer ethnic school for children. I already work on part of school project about the world of animals. The next one will be the music summer school. The kids are great. We made some animal masks and the animals from balloon. I don’t speak Russian language yet. So we were speaking English with the big children. I’m trying to speak Czech and little bit of Russian with the small children. I will take lesson of Russian language that is the most useful in Daugavpils and also Latvian courses. So I will work more with children more easily later.

Monika Křivánková from Czech Republic