If you like travelling, knowing other cultures, are under 30 years old and willing to live in a world more tolerant and united, Brussels was your place among this weekend. From 7-11 September the European Youth Forum (YFJ) hosted at the European Parliament Esplanade the II Youth Convention on Volunteering, with the presence of 99 members made up of national youth councils and international non-governmental youth organisations. This year it was also a flagship event for the EU-China Year of Youth.
“The YFJ works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations towards the European Institutions, the Council of Europe and the United Nations”. Hundreds of youngsters from all over world and specially Europe participated in the different conferences, training activities, information days and hearings with institutions, followed by concerts of all kind of music, from Balcanic to Chinese.
It was the perfect opportunity to know the role of youth volunteering work, its different archievements, assets, doubts, ways, fears, but also the tools necessaries to find a project that suits your needs and wills. Each organisation was set in a different marquee, and as a part of the YFJ, the EVS had its own.
The EVS (The European Voluntary Service) is one of the most popular volunteering programmes hosted by the Europe Union, and I must admit it is the one which let me leave my home country, Spain, to come to Brussels to work for De Wereld Morgen.
But I was not alone, I had the chance to meet dozens of volunteers from all over Europe that happened to do an EVS among Belgium in many different projects and cities. An EVS is not just a volunteering job, it is a job connected with social affairs in as many fields as you can imagine: immigration, arts and culture, children, youth, media, environment, European awareness, etc. We were a group of strangers sharing the same will: collaborate in the solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance thus contributing to reinforcing social cohesion in the European Union. The EVS aim.
Some of them just arrived as me, some of them were about to finish it. Ozan (24, Turkey) affirms: “I was already a volunteer in Turkey, and I wanted to work for an international organisation as a volunteer. The organisation I am working for is an umbrella organisation which covers also my organisation in Turkey; besides, I wanted to improve my English”. Eva (28, Spain) just finished her programme: “the best about doing an EVS is to have the opportunity to work into the social field from another point of view and throughout learn other ways to work, values and tools. They might be different from the ones you knew at your home country, and you can use them in the future for your personal and professional life. I would encourage everybody to do such an experience, it will be something they will never regret”.
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