Julia's EVS at Youthcenter Oberndorf
My name is Julia, I come from Spain and I was volunteering for ten months in the Youth Centre of Oberndorf, 30 minutes away from Salzburg.
Now that I am back home it is very hard to put into words what these ten months have meant to me, but I will try my best. For me, the EVS experience has two main parts: the project in which I was working, and the life outside the project, with the other volunteers and the activities and trainings in which I took part.
The part regarding the project was very rewarding to me, since it meant getting involved in a real Austrian community with problems in many areas. I was working in a Youth Centre (Jugendzentrum Oberndorf) whose target group are teenagers with fewer opportunities, most of them coming from a migrant background. Working in a small town like Oberdorf made easier for me to get to know the people from the community and the teenagers and to become quickly familiar with their lives and conditions. My tasks were to help them with their homework and projects, to sell drinks and snacks and to play and talk to them. By performing these small and (apparently) easy tasks, I learnt a lot about Turkish and former Yugoslavia culture, about the integration (or lack of integration) of these communities in the Austrian lifestyle and about many other factors that affected these teenagers and that made me realize the importance of social work and implication of the society in the education of young people. I also had the opportunity to work with refugees and to get a lot of information about their situation, which was always very interesting. For me, working in this project was a multicultural experience, not only because I learnt a lot about Austrian culture and I had the opportunity to improve my German, but also because I learnt about the integration and problems of the immigrants and refugees who come to Europe and about the national identity.
The part regarding the life outside the project was also very positive, and I think that it is one of the highlights of doing and EVS in Salzburg. The coordinating organization (Akzente) puts all the volunteers together in the same student dorm and organizes activities with all of them together, promoting that they form a group. In my case, I had the opportunity to share my EVS with around twelve other volunteers from different countries in Europe. Not only by meeting people from around Europe, but also by sharing our experiences and getting to know each other’s projects, the experience was richer and more enjoyable. Furthermore, living in an international student dorm, gives you the possibility of meeting more people from around the world. In this aspect, I can assure every future volunteer, that there is no time to be bored, there is always someone knocking on your door to cook some speciality of their national cuisine, go for a walk in the beautiful city of Salzburg or fight together against the Austrian burocracy.
The trainings organized by the National Agency and the support of our organizations to do activities and get to know each other, made me enjoy and learn about the experience in many different ways, as well as get to know better Austria and the volunteers of other cities.
The European Voluntary Service in Salzburg was for me an experience to which I gave a lot of myself but that returned to me a lot of knowledge, fun, memories and acquaintances that I will keep forever.