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04/03/2019 Premières impressions de Nataliia

EVS experience 2019 at MFR Bournezeau
I was born, raised and live in Kyiv, Ukraine, for 26 years and this year I’ve joined MFR Bournezeau as an EVS Volunteer. Mon prénom est – Nataliia, but also Nataly, Natasha, Nat, Tala and other options :)

It’s important to note that I’m an absolute beginner in learning French language, so it will be challenging journey. The language learning reminds me “back to the music school” feeling. A lot of sounds appear around just to remember and catching them during conversation. My eyes get bigger and all senses get overly stimulated when someone talks to me. The language complicated and melodic at the same time.

My diving into the program started with the arriving to La Roche-sur-Yon.
And, without further ado, the city looks like something old that was frozen at a certain moment and keep staying in a good condition, moving around the streets you feel that time passes slower and buildings are cared by people that live here. Still, you can find inclusions of modern building here like a train station or Media-theater. Buildings here are in organic connection with nature.

I noticed that social connections and involvement in life of the city is a big part of the daily life of citizens. While Ukrainian youth keep looking for new opportunities and they are full of life energy, it’s hard to admit that people aged 40+, for the most part, are least happy and have fewer opportunities for self-expression in Ukraine. I hope I can bring this socializing habit in Ukraine at least on the level of my surrounding. Through different encounters here, I keep learning about various lives scenarios and values of people, raising feeling of belonging to the European community with wondering, and at the same time with a certain distance as I come from somewhere else.
Another important aspect is the level of trust in the country. It shows a level of integrity and courage that raise others’ respect and trust. When level of trust is low, people are busy watching their backs and hesitate, but with the trust we go full speed ahead. All these makes me feel inspired and raise beliefs about friendly and safe universe where we exist.
Coming back to the volunteer subject, it’s taking place at the MFR Bournezeau horse school in Vendee. The village, Bournezeau, appeared to be out of the Ukrainian perception of a village region. I discovered here the good roads, neat houses, modern grocery and pharmaceuticals shops and palm trees (that was a big surprise).
First several days at the school perceived as much longer days than usual ones. I received so much information that my mind was racing and already in the middle of the day I felt myself exhausted. Later, I met other volunteers during my introductory seminar. It was pleasant to find out that not only me faced with these feelings and some of us forget even native language at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, the first experience here surprises me, from the simplest things like the baghete cutting machine at the dining room and ending with the approach to cultivate a sense of autonomy, responsibility, analyzing and wonder in students, whose average age is 15-20 years old. Students have much more freedom of self-expression here. They are trusted in making researches and presenting their thought in order to find better solutions. A lot of things here are thought-provoking and I keep wondering about non-formal education approach.  

Many questions come up when you are EVS participant and by asking ‘good’ questions we raise awareness of our ‘hidden’ competencies. Let’s keep asking around, see what we can find out.