In the last days we participated in a training for EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteers. It is called on-arrival training (O.A.T) and is an obligatory part of the EVS, meaning every volunteer regardless of hosting country takes part in it.
The whole idea of EVS is exactly this- it puts the volunteer in the center and it aims to help them to learn, grow and develop competences. It is not about just sending someone to foreign country to work there and do some kind of project, but is more to support them in their learning process, through this opportunity of learning mobility. For ensuring quality, several actions are developed before departure, at EVS and also after you come back from EVS.
Before you leave, there is a pre-departure training, organized in your own country, and in the first days or weeks after you arrive, there is an on-arrival training, and if you stay for 6 months or longer you will also attend a mid-term evaluation training. Each training has its own concept and objectives and it is meant for a specific phase of an EVS.
The objective of the O.A.T. is to make the volunteers familiar to their host countries, to prepare them for some cultural differences and also to explain to them what their role is in this whole EVS machine. We, as volunteers, have rights and there are for example limitations regarding work-load, guidelines for reimbursement procedures of the costs we have, calculations for getting daily allowance, having health insurance, etc. And we also have responsibilities and we should follow certain procedures that ensures we obey the rules and respect the organizations, work that we are doing and the culture in our host country.
Besides this, the idea of O.A.T. is also to define the learning objectives of the EVS. As said- the volunteers are at the center of the projects and the most important added value that is expected from EVS is personal (and professional) development of volunteers. We got familiar with the Youthpass, a tool that is created for recording and documenting the learning process and competences gained or further developed through EVS.
Our own O.A.T. took part in Amman, Jordan – which is a beautiful and vibrant city! For us this was an interesting experience, partially because Jordan shares many cultural traits as well as history with Palestine. For instance, it is estimated that more than 2 million Palestinians reside in Jordan. Most of them have refugee background, and many live in refugee camps similar to ours here in Bethlehem. Hence, many people in Jordan have links and emotional connection to Palestine. We also had use for the few words we know in Arabic!
The EVS trainings offer the opportunity for volunteers to meet. The training is not organized for individuals or only volunteers working in the same organizations, but it is mostly organized at national, or even regional level, which was the case for us. This allows volunteers, who are coming from different countries and who are working in different organizations to get to know each other, share their experiences, expectations, fears and views and also to see there are their peers, going through similar processes.
Jordan is another partner country of EVS, and there are some EVS volunteers doing their service here. Marouane and Benedetta are both volunteers for IDare for Sustainable Development, an organization based in Amman working with local youth and community empowerment. For us, it was amazing to meet the ‘Jordanian’ volunteers, and realize that our stories are similar!
Marouane and Benedetta are doing their EVS in Jordan.
Why did you apply for this EVS?
I wanted to make an opinion for myself about the challenges occurring in the Middle East and get to know the culture.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Adapting to the culture has been quite a challenge. I didn’t go through any particular event, but just understanding what is socially accepted and what is not giving the environment has been a process.
Why did you apply for this EVS?
I studied about the Middle East for years at the University and it really interested me. I wanted to work and live in Jordan because I wanted to learn about its culture without the Western prejudices. I chose to apply for an EVS because it is a European Commission programme therefore it is controlled and I have a sending organization that I can contact in case there might be any problem.
What do you expect from your EVS?
I think I will understand the culture of this amazing country and that I can improve both professionally and personally due to the fact that I have to adapt to a new environment and as I never worked before in a grassroot organization.
Narrow streets and amazing dinner in the inner city of Amman, Jordan.