When Esin joined the pre-departure training in İzmir

It was my last year in University. I always felt the need to direct my life. I was feeling mixed emotions such as fear and worries about my future. I knew that I had to start to have a business life but working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., rules, laws, procedures… Even thinking about it was scary enough.

When I was thinking about what I should do, I remembered the EVS program my friend told me about. She told me she suspend her study for a year and went to a kindergarten as a volunteer teacher in France. I understood the importance of volunteering abroad considering personal evolution and gaining experience. Thus, I decided to volunteer.

I joined to Erasmus+ Project groups in Facebook and applied to the projects that caught my attention. But I wasn’t getting any replies to my applications. Not once, not twice, but for many of times I couldn’t get a reply, so, I posted a post in these groups in which I introduced myself and gave a short summary of my experience. I mentioned about my physhical disability and that I was willing to participate in projects that would be suitable for me.

I came across with Pi Youth Association and contacted them. We e-mailed for a long time in that time they did everything they could to find a suitable Project for me. Thus, I contiuned my search of a project. After a while, just like I wanted to, I was directed to a Project that was looking for a psychically disabled volunteer. They were looking for someone who can work in the Office team of a Youth Association in Vienna and help them in activities. I prepared my CV and mottivation letter in couple of days an applied.

Sadly, the first response from the association was negative. They said that period was full. I thought I was rejected once again and felt dissapointed. The feeling of trying but not being able to change my life was terrifying. After a while, my worries about future increased.

But, after a couple of months, the same association e-mailed me. In the mail they said that they were impressed by me and they were willing to evaluate my application in the next period. Therefore, they wanted to have a Skype meeting with me and I accepted it. After a wonderful conversation, I recieved the acceptance mail I was expecting. In the following process, Pi Youth Association supported me as my sending organisation. The paperwork was initiated and plans (accommodation, personal assistance, etc.) were made to meet my needs. But this process took quite a long time because the project had to be approved by the National Agency. We waited for about 3-4 months with the associations. I was very happy when I found out that the project was approved.

When Esin in Austria (Wien) in hosting organization

In the preliminary visit and in my project activities, time passed very quickly. The preliminary visit took place between 25-28 February 2019. Together with my friends from the Pi Youth Association Cihan and Yunus, we went to Vienna and met the people in the organisation and they showed us the office, the dormitory, the public transportation and the important places in the city. We even met with my mentor and other volunteers. Even though I spent a short time in the Project, it was a fun and a packed out experience. My project activities started in May and ended in October. 4 days a week, 6 hours a day I used a computer in the Grenzenlos office and helped with office work. I had some basic tasks such as editing documents, preparing lists, but I had more to do! They held a team meeting with me every month and asked if I was satisfied with my activities. I told them that I was satisfied, but that I wanted to take part in more social and various activities. For this reason, tasks such as graphic design for social media (preparing posters) and preparing reports and blog posts were also given.

Of all that I attended, my favorite activity was a theater-based labor camp. It was great to join to the volunteers from around the world to create our own theater play and to play it. The solidarity we had, the teamwork spirit and the happiness that comes with being on stage… It might even be the happiest moment of my life. I can remember that night as if it happened yesterday.

The other activities I enjoyed were the training seminars that National Agency presented. These were a few days of seminars where we met with volunteers in Austria and engaged in volunteering and cultural issues. This was a place in which questions such as; “What is volunteering, what is not? What should we do if there is an unexpected situation in our project process? ’’ were discussed and solved. I liked the fact that we were able to express our ideas freely in such an environment.

I was so glad to be a volunteer and so happy with my life in Vienna that I never wanted my Project to end. Thus, I left my heart in there when I was returning to Turkey. Wishing to be able to go there again one day…

AGH-95 Avusturya (Esin Merdan)

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