What EVS Volunteers brings us by Ondrej Strnad

Context of Author

I am a Coordinator of European Voluntary Service, a Youth Worker and a Trainer.




This story describes the benefits brought to our community, our youth work, and for me personally, by working with the EVS volunteers we host in our ‘Centre of Leisure Time Activities – JUNIOR’.

Story in Full

Some people may know how difficult working with international volunteers sometimes is, and might want to ask why we host volunteers. What do they really bring us?

The simple answer is, many things :)

Similarly to any other persons, EVS volunteers can bring us many varied experiences. I am currently in my sixth year as an EVS Coordinator. For this story I will focus on the specific enrichment of our work and of our community but also on the personal enrichment that working with young foreigners brings to myself.

Intercultural Enrichment

It is really true that other nations and cultures have different perceptions of many things. Usually the further you come from, the stranger you will be. This, in my opinion, is very stimulating for our community and society, which is not really multicultural. At the same time it helps us to fight (or at least realize) our prejudices. We see that however different these people (and cultures) are, they are still the same humans as we are. At least for those of us who want to see!

Fresh Ideas and New Perspectives

Many times it is these young people who come here to learn something who are actually teaching us. I don´t mean those who think they know everything and can do anything (we already have enough of such people here). I mean those who bring their original approaches, ideas, experiences and genuine creativity, but also modesty and willingness to listen and learn. This is usually bound with their culture, or just with their unique personalities. We grow with them. Through the involvement of international volunteers we are increasing our capacity to do something good in our local community. The EVS volunteers bring change, subtle and slow but definitely change. Of course we are here to help make it positive, or at least to try to do so…

Improving Language Skills

Coming to a distant place to do something beneficial, to gain experience and to learn something of a different language sounds pretty illogical to many of us who have lived in a country where volunteering used to be compulsory. We tend to neglect the real benefits of voluntary work for the volunteer but also for the people. “Learning other languages is useless. When you come to Slovakia, nobody will understand you anyway”, this used to be my favourite joke for foreigners. I believe that by hosting EVS volunteers we are increasing not only their language skills but also our language skills and therefore our communication capabilities.

Improving self-esteem and integration

In little nations that have always been ruled by someone else, national pride or self-esteem can be pretty low. This is only multiplied by the post-communistic past. In my opinion, it is one of the main reasons why almost everyone here asks EVS volunteers, “Why did you come to Slovakia?” Of course this country and its people have many beauties and unique qualities, but it seems we will need more time than we expected to heal from the heritage of autocracy. And I believe that we mutually help each other with international volunteers to realize and develop our qualities.