Last month of our EVS in Ireland was opened by the mid-way training in Cloughjordan an eco-village where our EVS colleagues, Havvah and Sara, are growing organic vegetables and fruits. The place was fantastic to hang around learning about eco-villages communities while meditate and evaluate about our experience in Ireland as volunteers. The training dynamics gave us guidance referring to the Youth Pass, Final Report and other transnational opportunities included in Erasmus+. Also it showed us how to asses our intervention in the organization and how to frame it in our future.
More than half way done of our EVS and the Indian Summer has delight us with two weeks of sun and not feeling soak. We can’t believe that real summer in Ireland is in September!
The Youth Councilors have finished their term and new recruitment campaign has being designed with and election pack set formed by posters, leaflets… The responsible of the project (Marty and Anne-C) have been heading on all around Donegal schools to give out detail information how to submit election forms.
The campaign is a succeed so far. Lets wait until next month to meet the new young councilors!
Leaving aside political issues and moving to sports, after Donegal soccer team has won Dublin in the semifinal, the GAA final against Kerry was one of the most popular and exciting event that brought all County together.
The proudness of Donegal team was obvious around the region. You could see the support everywhere: huge teddy bears with Donegal Jersey, sheep painted with the colors of Donegal flag, Pope posters rising Donegal flag…
Here is an example:
As around the world August it is not a very busy month. Donegal Youth Service Headquarters were quiet most of the time not only because the workers holidays but also because the young people was spending their last off days before start again the classes.
Letterkenny Youth Information Centre organized a Media Summer Camp for anyone who was interested in this field and would like to improve their skills in this area. Ana and Alba were involved on it under Louise supervision. Many young people enjoy learning about cinema, video and photography. They shoot a music video and afterwards they edit themselves; they took pictures and edit them as well.
The summer in Donegal had many sunny days but without any doubts the brightest one was the Saturday 23rd of August, when we celebrated “Party in the Car Park”. The morning started with a Intercultural Seminars that gather many participants from Cross Border Connections Project. We continue the day at The Grill Car Park with a great party full of activities and engagement; from sports to a fashion show, not forgetting the food testing, the circus performance, face painting, make-up, dancing, the safety driving or the second hand clothes selling. The music did not stop during all day, so we discovered and enjoy the talent young musicians from Donegal. We were shooting the event, so this is the result:
Smoothly swell our July has gonne in Donegal. Some of the top events of the month have been The Rumanian Intership, Falcarragh Festival, Finland – Ireland Youth Exchange and Swell Festival.
Starting from the really early days, Donegal Youth Service has hosted Finish guests in Letterkenny. Irish and Finish youngsters, youth workers, volunteers and teachers were exploring Donegal Youth Clubs and venues to figure out how could they build youth partnership among communities according to the European Commission programs. A youth exchange came up as a result of the presentations, meetings and workshops which did occur around youth clubs, DYS quaters and LYIT. All experience has been smash together in the following video.
The Youth Council took part in a Youth Exchange with the Romanian Youth Movement for Democracy and went to Romania in July to attend the Democracy Builder programme. During a week they participated in workshops and learnt about youth activism and campaigning. They shared good practices with the other participants and discussed many topics and methods in volunteerism.
It was also an intercultural experience and they could discover a new country and new culture. Young people created friendships with Romanian young people and introduced Irish culture to them.
As part of the team leader it was a real source of motivation and inspiration to see their involvement and energy. It confirmed my wish to keep working in Youth Participation field and lead projects bringing young people together towards common goals and values to create dialogue and mutual understanding, a great way to promote peace.
In order to promote the EVS programme we presented two information sessions, one for the Youth Council and another one open to the public in the YIC. We gave young people all the basic information about EVS and Erasmus programme, explaining how to take part in the programme and we also introduced projects of the other EVS volunteers we know across Ireland in order to show the large panel of opportunities offer the EVS.
Changing from the week plans to the weekend plans we join to Swell Festival in Aranmore, an island located in the West coast of Donegal. Music from Duke Special, In Their Thousands, Mark Black & The Trips or The Heads of State to a massive selection of poetry, spoken word, live art, DJs, Sound baths from our “Ardan na Fia” arts stage. Ana and Alba were volunteers recording the best moments of this swell festival to make a video that promotes the 2015 edition.
Donegal Youth Service launched ‘Teen Talk’ in Letterkenny Headquarters. During the morning we were at informative presentations about the one to one youth work service. ‘Teen Talk’ is a confidential universal service suitable for all young people aged between 12 and 25 years who would like extra support with any issue they are experiencing with a professional youth worker.
The World 11 Music, Sport and Politics Group spent a few days in Gartan on residential as a final course activity. They swam, visited natural places and canoed on the lake. The residential finished with an active workshop in which they share a lot of personal experiences. It was a great time with a great group of young people.
Later on in June, our couch has been regularly warm thanks to visits from other EVS volunteers. We were glad to host Suzonn, from Belgium who is on her EVS in Galway, North West of Ireland. She is in a Circus Project, running some lessons for local youngsters. Suzonn came to Letterkenny to have a training at silk discipline so we had the pleasure to have her at home during two weeks. It was amazing to attend the Guiness Record attempt in Aura Centre. About 35 professional acrobatics performing at a time the same silk choreography. We learned a lot about Circus through her experience.
Also Havvah and Miriam, doing there EVS in the South of Ireland, stayed a short but fun stay in Letterkenny after a busy weekend around Northern Ireland. It was great to meet other EVS from Macedonia, Eslovenia and Canada whose came along with them and we were able to update each other about our EVS living.
First 1/3 of the EVS already past and there is a lot to say…
Starting with the news from DYS:
Donegal Youth Council have been very active, launching its Sexual Health And More website (http://sham.ie/), releasing a Youth Manifesto video in which they address their messages to Donegal local politicians about Youth main concerns in the county (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGLpgK8n3sU) and organising a pre-election Youth Matters event during which they met the candidates to the local election for the Donegal Council. In this event they presented DYC projects and facilitated roundtables to discuss with politicians about the main topics they are working on: Mental Health, Wellbeing, Bullying, Education and Youth Facilities. http://donegalnews.com/2014/05/donegal-youth-council-holds-youth-matters-event-at-cultural-centre/ .
Meeting local candidates for the election
In May the Letterkenny Information Centre has had a very irregular attendance flow due to final exams. For this reasons some of the activities have been postponed until June. The young people drop in after lunch and they enjoy meeting each other, playing pool, listening to music… or just sitting on the coaches relaxing and chatting about summer plans.
The Qube was a fundraising event that Donegal Youth Service organized in a hotel in March. They got money from many people, most of it from the winners of the games. We prepared a video summarizing the night to thank everybody involved.
Doing our EVS in Donegal Youth Service, we have the chance to follow various trainings and enlarge our personal skills, which is a great opportunity.
Anne-C had trainings about Youth Leadership in diverse society, Child Protection policies, Sexual Education in Youth sector, raising awareness on drugs and alcohol dangers, promoting Healthy Eating Behaviours with young people.
One morning we have the opportunity to participate in a update session around drugs and alcohol in Ireland. The trainee told us about the introduction of new drugs in the country as well as the shapes and effects in short and long term. I was very interesting to discover new vocabulary around the slung in the street. On the other side we have realized that alcohol continues being one of the most common drugs in Irish population. Young people starts early and early to consume this liquid drug. Following the statistics, alcohol is one of the firs reason of dead in Ireland.
Trainings are being worthwhile to acknowledge different experiences of youth work in Ireland. One of them is held by a DYS trainer in Maharothy each Thursday and Friday. The training develops issues related to Childhood protection or Youth Inclusion.
Child Protection Training has taken place on May. Starting with the law about childhood we can learn through Frankie how we have to be with this complex range of age (under 18 years old). Children are one of the most vulnerable groups because they are exposed to many kind of abuse range from neglect to emotional, sexual and physical abuse.
Because EVS is not only working but social life and discovering as well, we have been travelling around Donegal County and Northern Ireland.
Last places visited: Slieve Leagues, Glenveagh Nat Park, Mount Errigal, Malin Head, Derry, Giant Causeways and Belfast.
We also climbed Croagh Patrick in County Mayo with part of the EVS group we met in the on-arrival training. We were unlucky with the weather as it was a terrible day but finally resist to Irish cold and rain was part of the challenge and we had great time. Westport is a nice town full of pubs!
After one or two months involved in our projects all EVS volunteers from Ireland were called to have on-arrival training. It took place in Swords in a religious residence 20 minutes away from Dublin. Two trainers who used to work in youth projects were in charge of the training.
The first step was getting to know each other through dynamic games. Afterwards we had to explain our project and share with others. Some of the backgrounds and the projects were amazing. Mainly they were related with youth work, disability, environmental issues and LGBT awareness. It was nice to see other youth initiatives and their implementation. Also it made us question ourselves about goals, projects, roles, and location.
To continue improving our EVS experience they brought us to Dublin to realize the Dublin Challenge. This entailed to overcome some challenges and learn about ourselves. The backdrop was Dublin city. Most of the challenges required people aid working in a team. For some of us, this activity meant a different way to meet other volunteers and discover how EVS experience is changing ourselves. When we returned to the residence we shared our day with the others showing pictures and stories with a funny performance. As good Irish volunteers we finished the day having some beers and playing games.
During these days we have learnt more about our rights and responsibility as EVS, the people can help you whenever you need to, useful information about the organizations involved in EVS (sending and hosting organizations and National Agencies), the differences between our cultures and other countries, shared feelings about living abroad in Ireland and gave and received positive a advice help us to face this experience.
We went to Dublin on St.Patrick’s weekend not just because of the festivities but also to visit the city None of us was in the capital of Ireland before so we thought it was a good opportunity to travel and enjoy the Irish Pubs. Although the parade and the atmosphere in Dublin was great for us, we were expecting a Irish Traditional Celebration rather than a tourist attraction, and it turned out to be mainly for tourists
We highly recommend the Free Tour around Dublin! We had an Irish guide who lead us to relevant venues in the Capital. A historical tour of a city can sound boring, this was not! She told us in an informal and dynamic way her version of Irish historical events, including anecdotes. We visited the Trinity College, Temple Bar and the Ha’penny Bridge as well as many more.
We decided to have a housewarming because we felt that it was an opportunity to meet people from the office in a relaxing atmosphere. But one of the flatmates was missing, Ana, that’s why we waited 1 month to make it happen. Note down a suggestion! For further housewarming invitations just put a poster next to the sign in sheets, it works better, and don’t mind punctuality!. By the way, while organising the event we learnt the meaning of BYOB: Bring Your Own Beer.
Paella, Spanish omelette, oven pears with chocolate, and some tapas were the ingredients for the best housewarming. The sauce of the party was the guests and their lovely partners. We could chat to co-workers and get to know them better. The night finished with a live concert at the Greenroom.
It is very strange that on one hand we feel like we arrived yesterday; and on the other hand we feel at home here in Letterkenny, as if we had lived here for months or even years. We have been so warmly welcomed by everybody. Marty and Louise have been very good helping us settle in and throughout the moving process, which helped us a lot in feeling comfortable very quickly.
We now are familiar with the different venues of Letterkenny and have got our own “routines”. Drinking Guinness has become a habit, we don’t think about the weather any more when we go out as we always are prepared to experience different seasons in one day, speaking English isn’t abnormal any more and our understanding of Donegal English is improving every day.
From personal perspectives, we have experienced different feelings as we work on different projects inside DYS and our roles are in separate areas.
Although I was very nervous, my travel from Burgos to Letterkenny started with good luck. First of all, a friend drove me to Madrid and we had lunch. It was my last Spanish meal. I said good bye Madrid and we went to the airport where I had my second stroke of luck: I could check-in my hand luggage for free and I did not have to pay for excess baggage. I crossed every security control, the plane took off and before I could close and open my eyes I noticed that I was landing in Ireland. I only had to get a bus and I would be in Letterkenny! And that is was what happened…
European Voluntary Service was waiting for me in Letterkenny Youth Information Centre, Louise, was waiting for me to go to my new home. She was very attentive and she made me feel very fortunate for being there.
The sun woke up me on my first morning here. It surprised me because I was scared about the weather here. At work Louise introduced me toeverybody and showed me the place; people were very nice and I like the environment, so I thought that the nine next months would be amazing. I work surrounded by young people in a little office where I make designs promoting the work of DYS, such as Day Break or Wellness Week; I also take pictures, make videos and participate in the Media Group. I am very interested in the topics in which Youth Information Centre is working on like Bulling and Cyberbulling or Domestic Violence. I am meeting a lot of people, volunteers, staff and placements.
But not all that was happening was work: during this month we have done lot of things in Letterkenny and the outskirts in our free time. We have discovered magic places in the mountains and in the beach, we have tried different Irish dishes and beers and we have been introduced to the local life, pubs and life music.
From my side I’m working with Marty on the co-ordination of Youth Council. It is a very exciting mission for me and related with my previous experiences and background. Youth Councillors are very motivated and this helps bring about the realisation of great projects with them. We had regional meetings in the different zones Donegal and one county meeting in Letterkenny, in order to organise events coming, among which a Stand up event to raise awareness on LGBT rights https://www.facebook.com/events/1392358331034503/?notif_t=plan_user_invited, a radio show to promote Irish language (in which I’m participating as well, what a challenge for me to learn Irish phrases!), the creation of a Sexual Health website and furtherprojects… DYC is active and involved in different areas as Mental Health and Wellbeing, Education, Bullying, Youth Facilities. It reflects the high involment of these young people. I feel very lucky to take part of the adventure with them!
Another great thing in my position is that thanks to all these meetings I had a chance to discover beautiful landscapes and enjoy the wildness of Donegal County. I’m so looking forward to hiking in National Park in summer time!
The 6th of February was very emotional, I spent the day saying goodbye to friends, family and colleagues. It was 1 am in the morning and I got home after a day full of emotions. I did not sleep at all, I woke up at 6am and finished the last preparations. At 8am I was on his way to Madrid. Saying goodbye to my mother and my grandmother was very emotional. I will always remember this. I arrived at Madrid at 12 and I was waiting for a friend to eat, check-in luggage and we chatted about many things. Without realizing it I was already inspected and was in line to get on the plane. I made one last call to my family …. and then I was in Ireland. Come the time, the ride was very comfortable. I caught a bus bound for Dunfanaghy. The trip was exhausting, because I didn’t understand what people were saying to me, and after 4 hours I got to my destination.
Paul my coordinator was waiting for me, he laughed at me when he saw so many bags. In their lovely home dinner and wine exquisite were waiting for me . He showed me a magazine that appeared in my photo and at midnight we strolled through the village, had a beer at an Irish Pub and returned home. The next morning we traveled to the village, we made purchases for the weekend, I discovered the supermarket, Siopa Pobal [a solidarity shop] and met a lot of people. After eating I was alone in my house with 3 suitcases. I felt a little lonely but I made that house my home. When I finished I went to the village to take a beer, talk to a couple of young people and on my return home I called to my neighbor‘s door. She received me with open arms, I was introduced to her son Peter and daughter Rossa. She invited me for a coffee and we chatted for several hours. When I was about to go to my house she gave me a gift – a televison with DVD and a couple of movies so that I did not feel alone.
This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. From that day Emma and her children are my new family here.
Sunday I explored the sites to meet people in my village. The day passed by before I realised it was Sunday. Monday was my first day of work, I couldn’t wait, I met Sally, Linda, Maire and Eamon. I tried very hard, despite my verbal communication was very little. I was shown my office downtown, and a brief visit to other people’s studios. I ended the day by the fireplace in my home reading a book and drinking tea, like in the movies.
Ana the third EVS in DYS arrives this week and we are happy to become the new “welcomers” for her and share our tips with her.
I took the flight on the 6th of March to Dublin. My mother and my cousin accompanied me to Alicante airport. As usual my mother tried to make a drama of my departure “Again you leave me alone…” while my cousin and I were having a beer in the airport bar. It was quite funny to see the contrast between my mother crying and my cousin a little bit dizzy because of the beer. I couldn’t sleep at all during the flight, On Ryanair flights,who can!. I was lucky that I could take the first bus to Letterkenny and arrived at a normal time 11 p.m to meet my new flatmate, Alba Saiz, and my supervisor, Louise Lynch. After a lift around the city we got home and I have to say that it’s the best home I had since I started sharing apartments. Although I do not have the bigger room the house is big enough so… no worries! Alba prepared sausages from her hometown which I gently rejected because I’m a vegetarian. I was so embarrassed because she seemed so happy to offer me! Anne-C, my other flatmate, is obsessed with cheese, baguettes and wine. Nobody could guess she is from France.
About the language, I have to confess I was expecting a stronger accent in Donegal and I could manage it better than expected although there are some co-workers I have difficulties understanding. Referring to Irish people, they are lovely, really hospitable and good jokers. I love their humour! (When I get it ).
The project is as expected. Letterkenny Youth Information Centre is a place where any teenager can drop-in and get help in everything related with accommodation, employment, grants. In general, youth concerns. Our role in the office, has been defined by graphic and video design. My EVS partner and me are responsible for the design of some information leaflets, booklets and posters. It’s fun! Some of the teens even dare to approach you. A group of girls have named me banana, but this is a long story.