The new volunteers and the month of February

Hello, we are the new volunteers from Donegal Youth Service! There are four of us:  Gabriel (from Romania), Marika (from Georgia), Irene and Francesco (from Italy). We arrived in Letterkenny in different days, Gabriel was the first one to start working in February, then Irene followed by Marika on the next day and the 2nd of March, Francesco joined the crew. We all work on different projects inside DYS and our roles are in separate areas.

 From Gabriel
Hi folks. My name is Gabriel, from Romania, I’m 23 years old. I have the pleasure to work, as Assistant Youth Worker, in Donegal Youth Service, more precisely in the Youth Outreach Project, which means I’m most of my time out with Sheena but also with Michelle and other trainers from DYS. We deliver different courses for young people and other youth workers from Donegal County. At the same time I’m involved into the Day Break Project: together with Claire, Carlyn and other volunteers I’m helping students coping with different issues. As for the rest of my time I’m in the LOFT (another project from Donegal Youth Service) where together with Louise, Kasia, Billy and other workers we help and interact with young people who choose to visit our space.
Why am I here?! Because I love to meet new people from different cultures, change my life all the time while learning, discover myself, travel, HAVE A NEW LIFE!
How did I get here?! With the plane. Truth to be told, the last few moments, when I had to leave my family, friends and Un Zambet Association, which is like a second family for me, were so hard. My mother and all the volunteers from my organisation surprised me by coming to the airport a few minutes before the plane took off. It was really nice. After that a new experience was awaiting me, because I flew for the first time in my life. I can’t forget the strong wind that hit the plane before landing in Dublin and made me feel like I was in a small boat in the middle of the Atlantic. But I’ve survived. But here comes the “nicest” ( I mean the worst) part: Dublin by night! I’ve arrived in Dublin Tuesday morning at 01.00 am and it was a real adventure to walk alone from the bus station to the hostel in a new bigger city, where all the streets were empty and I couldn’t find anyone who would give me a helping hand. But, finally, a taxi driver guided me to the correct address.
First day in Letterkenny: After a long journey from Dublin to Letterkenny, I arrived to the town in which I knew I would spend almost one year of my life. At the bus station Martin and Sheena were waiting for me, impatient ( I guess :)) to meet me. After a strong handshake, they drove me home, but not before showing me the main street of Letterkenny. All that I remember from a fast speaker like Martin (something normal for a Donegal resident) was that the street is the longest one in Ireland because is full with … pubs. You can imagine what was in my mind then. Finally I arrived into the new house. A beautiful and cozy Irish house with lots of rooms, a spacious kitchen and still with the previous EVS volunteer spirit from last year. After that Martin took me to the Donegal Youth Service. There I’ve discovered a huge staff, with many young people spread all over different places in DYS building. From the very first moment they were so cute and friendly with me and that’s when it really felt like home.
How was my first month with my new volunteering job: Since my second day in Letterkenny Sheena took me to go with her and Michelle in Magheroarty, Donegal. There 15 Irish native teenagers aged between 12 – 16 years old were preparing to start with us a series of workshops for the next 8 weeks. Another nice group are the young people from Lifford town, prospective youth workers. Here I have the opportunity to learn from Sheena how to improve my skills as a youth worker twice a week. Also, Sheena showed me my desk where all the time I have to prepare the workshops and different activities. It’s the first time being into an office with a lot of different people. That’s good because sometimes I try to hear their conversation just to get new words for my English. In the LOFT I helped Billy creating a quiz for an event for young people about Safety Internet Day and I also had the opportunity to meet the young people from Donegal Youth Council, where Sheena ran a workshop about Sexual Health Awareness. I’ve joined the DYS book club and had the opportunity to speak about different topics such as philosophy, religion, critical thinking and of course read books. During my spare time I’ve discovered the town, some of the traditional Irish pubs and the surroundings of Letterkenny together with my fellow EVS volunteers. In general, I’m glad to take part in this EVS project, and one of the reason are all the people from DYS staff. They are kind, helpful and welcoming with us. For instance, Frankie gave us a bike to ride whenever we need. But it’s only one example among many others. I will keep in touch for the future with you and I’ll tell you more about this experience.
My fellow EVS: For the first 3 days after I’ve arrived in Letterkenny I lived alone in our huge EVS house. After that Irene, my colleague from Italy, joined with me in this experience. Next day, Marika from Georgia arrived in our house. We spent a full month doing different activities, travelling around Letterkenny and Donegal and enjoying our free time in the house. We meet again at final of March 🙂

From Marika
Hello, my name is Marika, from Tbilisi, Georgia, I’m 23 years old. I’m working in Donegal Youth Service as youth worker, also I am using my illustrating and animating skills for different projects. I decided to do EVS for meeting new, learn about different culture, to work and live in different environment, to grow personally and professionally, to get inspired. First month I was getting used to new place. I was surprised how people were friendly in the office, they are very supportive, don’t let me feel as a stranger, so I am enjoying my working environment, part of my job is traveling around Donegal on regional meetings, so I never get bored.

From Irene
Hey there! It’s Irene, I’ve arrived on the 4th of February after a 12 hour (yes many buses and trains from Tuscany to Donegal!) trip from Florence! Gabi and Louise, my supervisor, welcomed me and took me for a car ride in Letterkenny: the town, house and people definitely met my expectations or I’d better say were beyond expectation! I got a big room with an en suite bathroom and Gabi already bought me dinner 🙂 The first days of work were pretty nice. I love The LOFT, its a place where young people can play pool, table tennis or simply chat over a cup of tea. My duties were as predicted, those of designing posters, leafleats and some graphic work in general for the Youth Information Centre (YIC). The main aim of YIC is to give young people an enjoyable and safe environment to hang out, whilst also allowing them to ask for counselling and help in their day-to-day life or for any queries related to work and education. Irish people are really kind and would do anything to make you feel at ease. Letterkenny really felt like home! …except for one single aspect: the weather! As an Italian expat it was a bit hard to get used to the rainy, and sometimes stormy days but with my ski clothes on I’ve defeated any type of adverse condition while of course locals were sporting t-shirts all day long (still thinking they must have some kind of superpower, gotta ask them one of these days!).

Hey there! It’s Irene again! So here we are, a month has passed and I have gotten to know a little bit more about this country. My first impression remained unchanged, everyone is so kind and welcoming. One evening we even met a guy who wanted to make sure we weren’t lost, he called a cab for us to get home safely and people would go out of their way to greet you in the street and local shops. My design work continued as well and I found it really enjoyable since it combines everything I’ve studied for (which will be graphics and language mediation and translation!). I really love working for social care issues and I also got to know a little bit more about the young people of Donegal. I’ve joined the DYS book club and had the opportunity to speak about different topics such as philosophy, critical thinking and literature and of course read books! As for my explorer spirit we went to Inishowen, a wild sandy peninsula up North, we visited Buncrana beach and the Grianan of Aileach, a round fort which dominates the Lough (lake) Swilly and Foyle. Oh and not to forget, I’ve started my Irish tasting and tried not to stuff myself with my weakness: sweets and whiskey 🙂.

From Francesco
Hello guys, I will start by saying that my description will be a little bit short because I will not entertain a lot 🙂. I am Francesco from Agropoli (Southern Italy), since my arrival almost 1 month has gone by! My trip was long, I had to do a stop in Amsterdam, take a new flight with a different airplane to Belfast and then a bus to Derry where Louise was waiting for me. The twenty-minute trip from Derry to Letterkenny was very comfortable for me because I had a very warm welcome from Louise, my supervisor. My first days as an Irish man were really beautiful, but I didn’t even have the time to introduce myself with the other volunteers in the Donegal Youth Service because we had to leave for Dublin for the Arrival Training with Leargas. After returning from this beautiful course with all the European volunteers, my experience as an EVS in DYS has finally started and I can say that the other volunteers with whom I share a house with and all staff members are very kind. My activities in the Youth Information Center are that I manage the EVS-DYS Facebook page and the EVS website, which is very interesting and I really like it because some of these are similar to my previous work in Italy. Sorry for my bad English, but I am getting better!!!

All together with write

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