A weekend of adventure

EVS on-arrival training

From 1st – 4th December, the GEAI volunteers went to Dublin for their EVS on-arrival training, organised by Léargas. This training brings all EVS volunteers in Ireland together and gives them an opportunity to share learning and experiences and to have fun!

15369610_1808150142793664_1755525483_oAndrea, Kate, and Alex had a great time and connected with the other volunteers living in other parts of Ireland. It was a time to share experiences, learn about other cultures and their organisations. It was also a time to look back and reflect on the EVS experience so far. The three volunteers learned more about planning ahead, Youthpass and even received some advice on problem-solving!

One should not judge people based on stereotypes

Andrea found these four days a great opportunity to reflect on her own experience in a deeper way and to see things through the eyes of different people with different nationalities and cultures. She learned that one should not judge people based on stereotypes and that culture has a major influence in the way of thinking. She discovered that leaving her comfort zone can make her wiser! She met amazing people with whom she hopes to share trips and memories in a near future.

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“As well as the non formal  learning experience, we had so much fun discovering  Dublin with our colleagues and challenging ourselves through a funny race  game with different tasks, tasting traditional Irish food in The Brazen Head and getting to know our charming trainers”.

An injection of positive energy

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For Alex, this was an injection of positive energy as he feels a renovated momentum to face his next challenges within the workplace and on adaptation to Ireland. Alex really enjoyed meeting volunteers from other parts of Europe and even got to do a little language exchange.

“The Dublin challenge was a fantastic opportunity to get to get to know the city better and learn more about the Irish history and culture. The indoor activities were thrilling as well, and the whole training was coordinated by two very friendly and competent trainers. Having dinner in the oldest pub in Dublin was quite an experience for me!


Art and allegories

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Kate, our Belarusian volunteer, was the only participant from a non-EU country. For her, it was a really enjoyable time in an international atmosphere full of creativity and ideas. Speaking about difficulties, challenges, success, disappointments and life using art and allegories is really useful for her.

We did a great job discovering ourselves during  4 days. 21 brave people in the same place is something inspiring!

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EVS icebreaker in County Galway

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On Friday 18th November we, the GEAI EVS volunteers, visited Youth Work Ireland Galway (YWIG) in Ballinasloe. There, we had the opportunity to learn more about the EVS programme and we met the YWIG volunteers and participate in some team building activities with them.

15182520_1801069043501774_583424784_oHelen Butler, who is the work coordinator in Ballinasloe Centre, organised a ”Reflection on EVS” Workshop in which we shared our experiences, expectations and points of view. During the workshop we answered such important questions: “Who was I before EVS and who will I be after my EVS?” or “How can we bridge the gap between EVS volunteer and hosting organization workers?”

It was really good for us to hear how volunteers from another organisation are working and planning their free time and to learn more about the dynamics of mentorship. It helped to get a new perspective on EVS life.

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We really enjoyed the collaboration with the YWIG volunteers and we are really thankful for their hospitality. On Friday they treated us to a delicious curry chicken meal and invited us to stay at their place for the weekend. On Saturday they showed us around the Town where they are living – Ballinasloe, and we ended up going to a local pub to enjoy the “craic”. On Sunday we visited Galway and, even despite the fog, we had an amazing experience and fell in love with this picturesque town. Some of the things that particularly amazed us were the Christmas Market, the Spanish Arch, the Riverside Walk and Galway Cathedral.

In sum, the sympathy of the YWIG volunteers combined with the charming atmosphere of Galway made it a fabulous visit and one of the best weekends that we have had in our EVS! We left Galway with a feeling of amusement and a wish to come back soon

EVS Volunteers Witness Dáil Victory!

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The 27th of October we, the EVS volunteers, went into the Dáil, principal chamber of the Irish Parliament, to watch the Debate on the Anti-Fracking Bill presented by TD Tony McLoughlin. At first we thought we weren’t going to be able to go inside the Parliament because our names were not on the list of authorized people but, luckily for us, Tony McLoughlin’s staff members were kind enough to get us in and actually watch the Debate.

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For Alexandre, the Portuguese volunteer, it was quite an unforgettable moment as he has never been into a parliament before, let alone to watch a live debate. It was both surprising and exciting to see that all the campaigning work, not only from the previous few days but also the previous months and years (carried out by the people who were here before us) finally gave some results, despite the attempt by the government to introduce an amendment that would postpone the bill. It was satisfying for him to watch the opposition parties working together in order to get this bill through as it was a rare display of a functioning representative democracy working for the benefit of the people.

For Andrea, Spanish volunteer, it was amazing to have the dsc_1208_1opportunity to go inside the building. In contrast with Spain, where it is almost impossible for one to have access to the Parliament and tobe able to attend such an important debate.

It was an enriching experience: hearing TD’s opinions against fracking and its adverse effects as well as understanding how the legislation process works in Ireland.

Kate, the Belarusian volunteer, is not really keen on politics, however, visiting the Irish lower house – Dáil Éireann – has been a really unique experience for her. She learned that, in Ireland, every new law starts its life as a Bill. After having the experience of attending the debate and watching how the bill was discussed by TD’s, she found many TD’s speeches to be inspiring and challenging. The banning of fracking in Ireland has passed its first stage. She hopes it’ll pass the second one and it’ll become part of the country legislation in the near future.

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Kate and Andrea.

DOES EVERYONE IN IRELAND PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?

It has been almost a month since we, the new EVS volunteers, arrived in Leitrim to work with GEAI. This week we attended some cultural events in Carrick-on-Shannon and Ballinaglera – great experiences!

On Thursday 4th October we enjoyed a concert at The Dock Arts Centre: Caitlin and Ciaran with special guest Siobhan O Donnell! It was our first traditional Irish music concert and we were delighted to hear them playing the fiddle and concertina as well as dancing to traditional tunes.  Siobhan O Donnell was brilliant at the guitar and she charmed us with her spectacular voice.

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On Friday 5th, the Ballinaglera Traditional Music Weekend kicked off! A great concert was held in Ballinaglera Community Hall and we enjoyed the fun between flautist Marcus Hernon, his family and amazing singer Don Stiffe. Another immersion into Irish culture!

And that was not the end! Sunday evening saw us enjoying a traditional music session in Rynn’s Pub, Ballinaglera. People gathered together singing traditional songs and reciting poems as well as playing flutes, fiddles and guitars. Does everyone in Ireland play an instrument?  After that we went to Mulvey’s Pub where we listened to Ballinaglera’s “Young Stars”, children already proficient in Irish music. It was incredible to see how involved they are with traditional music at an early age.

GEAI WINS PRIZE FOR EVS VIDEO

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Barry Gilmartin in action on Lough Allen

GEAI has won 3rd Prize in a national competition, “Pay It Forward”, to publicise 20 years of the European Voluntary Service programme.  Three young EVS volunteers, together with a young local film-maker, Barry Gilmartin, made a really excellent short video to show the world what life is like for volunteers in County Leitrim and the benefits they gained by spending  a year here.

(Link to video)

For the past four years, GEAI has hosted young European volunteers to help with our work in the campaign against fracking and on raising awareness about climate change and the challenges facing Ireland as well as the rest of the world. The scheme is funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme, which pays for travel, accommodation and food for those young people.

The EVS volunteers come from all over Europe – from Spain to Romania, from France to Bellarus – and stay in Leitrim for a year at a time.  They experience Irish rural life and culture, travel all over Ireland, make friends with local people and other European volunteers, develop their skills and improve their English language and employability.  In return, the volunteers work with GEAI to publicise issues through website, Facebook and Twitter, they help to organise campaigns and public meetings and do research on renewable energy.

“We are really delighted with our success”, said Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI Director.  “This video was very much an initiative of the volunteers themselves who got together with Barry Gilmartin from Ballinaglera to plan the whole thing.  It is a huge credit to all the young people involved who showed so clearly the benefits of the EVS scheme and I am thrilled that Barry got the recognition he deserved.”

EVS is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme

LINK TO VIDEO

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