Category: Blog
EVS as Art Theatre

In this article, I would like to talk about linguistic and cultural barriers. As you might know, living in a country where you have little or no-knowledge of the local language can be a real challenge. And that it’s definitely my case, as my expertise in Ukrainian language is not enough to understand informal conversations and discussions about complex topics. This very often results for me in feeling excluded from the external environment. Your perceptions of reality change a lot, as you don’t understand things as they really are, but as your imagination thinks them to be. Also people are not real, but they are the result of your mind processing information is not sure about.

Moreover, very often you feel invisible as for other people you simply don’t exist. And despite your big efforts to be open, helpful and smiling with all kind of people you encounter in your way, sometimes you don’t receive the same attentions. Better said, you receive them only when someone needs you. So that everyone will turn to you extremely kind and polite ( sometimes even not) asking you to perform a great variety of actions as for example validating others’ tickets on the tram.

In other words, it seems that people consider you only because they need you to be there at that precise moment. And that’s all. So my question very often has been “how to feel appreciated for who you really are?” Such a big one, you might think. Right, totally true, I am sure I am not the only one struggling with this questions. And when I am abroad, far from my family and closest friends, I think this feeling is even stronger due to the desire of fitting in and very often due to the frustration resulting from trying to merge with locals.

However, the event I am participating in, that is See Beyond Art Residence, gave me the answer. Better said, all beautiful young people participating in this workshop gave me the answer. And this is precisely Art and Music. In fact, both kind of arts involve a bunch of people from diverse cultural backgrounds and context without having to speak the same language. And they will understand and feel understood. And that’s because, as one girl told me “You don’t need to understand Art, but to feel Art. So I will just imagine my EVS experience to be an Art Theatre Performance. People surrounding me to be pure Music and Art. I will be both Spectator and Protagonist. Because only through this way I will be close to the True meaning of this experience. And I will finally understand it and get understood.


Photography: a new way of looking at reality

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety”. Ansel Adams

Some weeks  ago Anna, our coordinator, came up with the idea of providing us with a Media Workshop.
A series of interactive meetings on photography techniques, videomaking strategies and composition basic skills. When I heard this, at first I was perplexed, I am sincere.
I like art and photography but I have never considered to be involved in a media course or develop my knowledge in this field. I have always admired  other friends of mine who are excellent photographers, but I have always lived this art at a certain distance. I have just replied yes to Anna’s proposal because one of the things I learnt in life is never say no to new opportunities.

Thus, I approached the workshop with some skepticism but I tried my best to put the teachings into practice. The first task was to go around our neighborhood in Sykhiv and take pictures of different patterns and elements. My perfectionist mindset helped me to not take the task as a game but take the photography strategies seriously.
The techniques our photography expert Piotr explained to us were clear to me at the end of the theory part and I didn’t wait a minute to take my mobile phone and experiment them.

At the end of the first meeting I found myself completely in love with this practice. I took 60 pictures of different things that looking back I would have never considered to take photographs of, before the workshop.  I learnt that beauty is in everyday life, in the small things, in stupid things that we often take for granted. I learnt that behind every photograph there are thousands of meanings. I understood that different perspectives are fine, that “what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly”.

Photography is more than a picture. It is more than the representation of a single object, of a person, of a landscape. It is a state of mind, it is a story that tells life, it is a declaration of feelings. Photography is subjective and this makes it even more fascinating.
I have never liked objective things (maths, first of all!). I like that one object is explained in different ways, according to the viewer’s opinion. One element, thousands of meanings. One element, thousands of memories. It is like life, isn’t it?
Photography is the philosophy of life. How you perceive what is in front of you, it is just a feeling you have inside you.

Kiev: the voiceless city

Last week-end,  I had the opportunity to go to Kiev to visit my aunty from Ukraine, newest member of my big and crazy Italian family. Soon after starting our reunion with a delicious pizza, we went to the city center for a walk, making slowly our way under a quick and unexpected rain.

As soon as I reached the heart of the city, I have been conquered by the majesty and beauty of its buildings and churches. Rus-Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture, colorful frescoes and mosaics, baroque churches, terraced gardens, my eyes were flattered by the mixture of different cultures and styles. Moreover, in occasion of the day of Europe, government buildings were even more shining and flashy.

However, since the beginning, I noticed there was something unusual: big shops flaunting luxury and richness were almost empty inside, as well as government buildings, as they  were not opened to the public. In fact, as the guard said  “something was going on  between Brussels and local representatives of the Institutions and visits  were not allowed”.

What is more, my Ukrainian aunty seemed not to be aware of  the beauties of Kiev city center, as if she had been there only few times. Indeed, she asked me to let her know what I wanted to visit since she told me: “ I don’t know where else  to go, I come to the city center only to meet my daughter who lives at the university residence and to have lunch with her”. And again “ City center is only a very touristic place: only tourists and business men come here”.

In other words, there was a voice unheard behind the high rise apartments, government buildings  and  expensive shops. And it was the voice of all the people who could not access the beauty of Kiev city center: those  living in the outskirts of the city, those earning a low level salary to sustain all the expenses for a living, those who don’t participate in public life and those whose the monthly pension is the same price of an expensive hat.

This experience left me a bit sad, but even more willing to keep working towards a more sustainable and equal society, where wealth can be accessed by the majority of population and metaphorically, the city center can be opened to everybody.



A special birthday in the woods

A lot of people get really homesick around their birthday and I was one of them. I was thinking that this year I wouldn’t do anything particular during my special day, but at the end I was wrong.

My birthday was on Sunday, so I thought it was nice to organize a picnic in the park in order to enjoy the good weather and spend some nice time surrounded by nature. As always, weather is crazy and do not follow rules and that morning it was not so sunny as I expected. But I didn’t give up and I decided to challenge the clouds that appeared in the sky. After the picnic, my colleagues organized a very special barbecue in the woods, something that I have always dreamt of doing. We had some meat, vegetables and mojitos to cheer us up and they even brought a cake with candles!

I sincerely did not expect anthing of this! As I have just arrived 2 months ago I didn’t expect my flatmate and colleagues to arrange anything and I knew they had really busy schedules .
It was a big surprise for me to have the opportunity to spend my birthday with them and having a little party in such a special setting.

Spending the birthday away from home seems quite strange. It is strange but at the same time it is funny and emotional. It’s completely different and this makes it even more special.
From this experience I learnt that it does not matter how far you are from home, there’s always a way to celebrate your birthday with new “adventure mates” that make every effort to make you happy.
I understood that people make everything better. And above all, I understood that you are never alone.


Highlights of a perfect flat mate


Journeys are made by the people you travel with

People are an essential part in our EVS journey and we will never forget about them once back home. Today we want to give a brief portrait of Andriy:  our collegue, flatmate and lastly but no least, friend!! Well known for his amazing problem solving skills and his sweetness, he soon became a Handy Manny for us.  What’s the reason behind his nick-name? Whenever there is an emergency, he will be there in perfect time and conditions.

You get blocked inside your flat? Don’t worry Handy Andriy will come in less than one hour to rescue you!  Is there a fire In the kitchen? He will wake up in the middle of his morning dreams and give support to you! You don’t know what’s the gas code of your apartment? He will answer your phone call in one second! Is there a spider in the living room? He will take his yoga mat and throw it away!

But let’s skip now to his real life job. He is working in our NGO ( Society Initiatives Institute) as a project assistant, being in charge of several tasks… better said everything! For instance he is responsible for logistics of the main events taking place in Lviv and legal issues of our organization.

He is indeed a real handyman!

He is not afraid of experiencing new tasks and going out of his comfort zone. When it comes to speak in public, he  can’t wait to show off his excellent knowledge of the English language. And he is aware of his outstanding  capabilities, as he made it clear to us since the first day:  “my English is the best in the organization”.  

He is a fundamental part in our lives and he is making our EVS full of joy, enriching us with his positive vibes.  

EQUALIZE EVS BLOG PART 3 – Ukraine and Peru : not too far apart

After spending 12 months working at a local NGO in Peru, I have decided to move to Ukraine to experience a new adventure in a context completely different from the Peruvian one. But, despite being at the  opposite side of the world, these two countries have some similarities. What a surprise! Let’s have a look at them!

# Ukrainian Mamitas

My favorite ones: elderly women selling informally their products on the streets. It’s plenty of Peruvian mamitas here in Ukraine as well. They might have different outfit but same scope and objectives:  taking care of your health and make sure you wake up with a smile every day.

#The rain

Here it comes the rain…again!! Yes, here in Lviv it rains a lot as well. There is not a fixed separation between  rainy and sunny seasons as in Peruvian Andes, but the rain is present  throughout all year long. Depending on the season,  it can take many forms, including snow, hailstorm and thick rain. It makes the way to the office a real challenge as cars and trams often  get stuck in muddy roads.

#Transportation system

Here in Ukraine the word for combi is marshrukta and they are as crazy as in Peru. With a slight little difference. Much more crowded and without traditional music (cumbia) playing all the time. You don’t know where they stop or which is their direction, but somebody will tell you, better said, will push you when it’s time to get off.


And finally, speaking about challenges, crossing railroads is one of them. Yes because it’s always a railroad that separates me from getting to the office.  This time I don’t have to be careful because of crazy combis whizzing on the street. But I have to pay attention to trains making slowly their way to the central station.



Шукаємо волонтерів на EVS проект у Словаччині
Наші партнери громадська організація People in Need Slovakia запрошує взяти участь у довготерміновому волонтерському проекті у Словаччині.
Who we are?
NGO  People in Need Slovakia which is focusing on humanitarian, development aid and social integration programs.
What is the project about?
A long-term strategec EVS project F.A.M.E. – FEELING AS A MEAN OF EDUCATION
Who are we looking for?

Volunteers, who will take part in the project will work in our community centers all around Slovakia in challenging but very enriching environment of socially-disadvantaged Roma communities.  We prefer to co-operate with open-minded, flexible and active volunteers.

What are the requirements?

We search for long term (12-months) volunteers motivated to work with children and youngsters mostly from Roma communities in our community centers all around Slovakia.
How to apply?
We are focusing on those candidates, who would be able to start within the first wave of volunteers – in June. Send us the CV and Cover letter and we will have the skype interview with the candidate.
Deadline 1.05.2018
More information about our organisation you can find here:

EqUalize EVS blog Part 2


Time relativity and loud reflections

I have been living in Ukraine for one month and it seems like it was yesterday when I got off the plane with heavy suitcases full of hope and enthusiasm. Time is strange! When you are fine and happy, time flies so fast.
My friends from Italy have been asking me how I am and the answer is always the same:“ I am adapting”. Adapting has a negative connotation for many people, but for me it hasn’t. Actually in my opinion it is a word that contains the whole essence of living in another country and embracing a different culture. Adaptation means to challenge your beliefs and accept a different mentality. It means understanding that you have to overcome your limits,like it or not.
These thoughts about time and adaptation resulted from a journey to Kiev some weeks ago. We participated in a training which was held in a resort outside the capital, in a village that I defined “Winter Wonderland” as we were surrounded by a forest full of snow.
Snow makes everything magic. It falls slowly and covers everything before you realize it. The same happens with time. When you are busy with something and you like what you are doing, you don’t realize that it’s passing by.
Time relativity has always fascinated me, and I am also fascinated by the fact that everytime I move to another country I find some similarities with other places I have been to.
I get excited about little things. For example here in Lviv I fell in love with the building in front of my flat, as it reminds me of London ( my favourite city in the world) and with some buildings near the supermarket that remind me of the residences in a seaside resort where I spend my summer holidays.
I am a “LOUD OBSERVER”, as I love the planet I am living in and I want to share this love with everyone.
Will Ukraine be able to appease this loud spirit and surprise me so much that I will savor my Lviv life silently? We will see!



EVS at Tourist Office “ Bocage Bressuirais” – SW France

The Tourist Office “Bocage Bressuirais” is a public body aiming at promoting the tourist area and the reception of tourists in the local territory. The volunteer main activities will involve:
Hosting the tourists at the Office (answer to their questions, present the territory and the possible activities);participating during the events of the territory; creating digital workshops about practical knowledge in IT, contributing to the implementation of the Tourist Office brand.

Duration:  01/09/2018 – 31/08/2019
Application deadline:27/03/2018
For more information:

EVS at the Centre Albert Schweitzer – Auberge de jeunesse
The ‘Centre International Albert Schweitzer’ is a youth hostel which organises, hosts and follows French-german and international projects. The volunteer will work in specific programs such as linguistic animation, cooperation games and thematic weeks.

Duration: 01/09/2018 – 20/08/2019
Application deadline: 31/03/2018
For more information:

EVS “Art and Music for Youth”
The volunteer will work with the Espace Jemmapes’s youth center. The volunteer will help with the reception and orientation of the public in the Paris Anim centers in link with the rehearsal studios and will provide technical support for concerts. He will organize cultural events (festival, concerts, exhibitions),artistic workshops and events about the ERASMUS + program ( EVS coffee, high schools’s projects ..)

Duration: 01/09/2018 – 31/07/2019
Application deadline: 09/04/2018
For more information:


EVS – YOUth for YOUrope
Volunteer will support international Erasmus students who are staying at the University of León. Tasks are related to the planning of booking and itinerary of the cultural trips offered to Erasmus students. The volunteer will also promote mobility programs, like Erasmus+ and others to offer more options for personal and profesional development to the young people in the city on León.

Duration: 01/09/2018 – 30/06/2019
Application deadline: 08/04/2018
For more information:

United Kingdom

Evs supporting people with disabilities in Marske, UK
Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s leading charity supporting people with disability. Marske Hall is a home with nursing care providing a range of services for 30 adults with physical disabilities, located in a small seaside town – Marske-by-the-sea in North Yorkshire. Volunteers will support residents and day care users on a one-to-one basis and get actively involved in planning and delivering activities programme. The organisation’s goal is to provide disable people with the opportunity to live their lives the way they choose – with the support to live independently. Activities include arts and crafts, music, sports, theme evenings, organising fundraising events, running small projects, escorting residents in community.

Duration: 21/05/2018 – 21/05/2019
Application deadline: 04/04/2018
For more information:


Zut! is an association working with contemporary performances in Santa Clara-a-Velha, with established artists who develop their own work and work with local elder population. One volunteer will be hosted by Zut! for 7,5 months to support the association’s project developement, in close contact with the local community. The volunteer will support the production processes of performances, workshops and events.

Duration: 01/03/2019 – 14/10/2019
Application deadline: 05/04/2018
For more information:


A Copa da Vida is a non-profit-association, running an ecological community immersed in nature, a seminar-place and environmental activities, as well as providing retreat places in Vale Bacias – Alentejo. The mission is the manifestation of a sustainable, conscious and loving way of life. The volunteer will be hosted by A Copa da Vida ecological community for 12 months, near the village of Colos. We ask the volunteers to be interested in nature, community, communication and a simple and alternative lifestyle.

Duration: 15/10/2018 – 14/10/2019
Application deadline: 05/04/2018
For more information:

SRST Sociedade Recreativa S. Teotoniense is a non profit association that offers support and protection activities for children, youth and families. The association coordinates a nursery (children aged 3 to 36 months) in S. Teotónio, as well as cultural activities and a School of Music and Arts. The volunteer will be hosted by SRST for 12 months, in the village of São Teotónio. The project consists in a diverse and dynamic program of activities, in the area of expressions (dramatic, musical, body) and in the production and promotion of events, enhancing the sharing of experiences and acquisition of new competences.

Duration: 15/10/2018 – 14/10/2019
Application deadline: 05/04/2018
For more information:



EVS working with children
Insel – Haus der Jugend is a day-care centre for 5 to 15 year old children and teenagers. It provides lunch, helps with the homework under academic supervision, leisure time activities in the field of sport, creativity/art, culture and fun. The volunteer(s) will help in the organisation
in organizing play, sports and fun activities; will provide assistance to the children/youngsters with their homework; will create workshops dedicated to different topics.

Duration: 11/ 2018 – 11/ 2019
Application deadline: 02/04/2018
For more information:

EVS at the Youth Center Oberndorf
The youth centre Oberndorf  is the main meeting point in Oberndorf for the youth scene between 12 and 18 years. The young people coming to the centre are mainly from Oberndorf or neighbourhood. Target groups are beside the local youth scene especially disadvantaged and underprivileged youngsters as migrants, unemployed, and socially discriminated youngsters etc.
With a mix of activities and regular opening hours, the youth center tries to support participation within the community of Oberndorf, to improve the integration status and to give shelter and backup when necessary.

Duration: 10/09/2018 – 31/07/2019
Application deadline: 02/04/2018
For more information:


При виникненні будь-який питаннь звертайтесь на пошту


EqUalize EVS blog Part 1

Рівно 2 тижні тому команда Інстутуту Суспільних Ініціатив поповнилася 2 волонтерками з Італії, що прибули до нас аж на цілий рік по програмі EVS (Європейська Волонтерська Служба). Вже маючи значний досвід волонтерства та проживання в таких країнах, як Вели

кобританія, Австралія, Індія та Перу,  дівчата вирішили присвятити рік удосконаленню своїх професійних навичок, і для цього обрали нашу організацію 🙂 Разом з ними ми будемо розробляти ще більше освітніх проектів для молоді, приділяючу увагу такій актуальній зараз темі, як права людини.

А ще вони будуть ділитись своїми особистими враженнями від перебування у Львові у формі блогу,  тому слідкуйте за оновленнями, щоб побачити життя в Укр

аїні з іншої перспективи 😉


Caminante, no hay camino: se hace camino al andar.

Walker, there is no path, you make the path as you go.
Antonio Machado

It has been a week since my first arrival in Lviv and during this time, I have been experiencing a mix of opposing emotions. My flight lasted only two hours, but I felt like I have been thrown into the plot of one of my favorite movies, the lives of others.

The district where I am currently living, CИХІV represents my very first approach to this new city. Very old buses, long railroads, soviet style buildings, empty and sometimes muddy roads. People in here are speaking Ukrainian, and despite my basic knowledge of Russian, I feel I am a kind of a mess especially when I try to express myself at the local market.

Nevertheless, I try to make fun of these uncommon situations and places, because first and foremost, I am here to learn and share my experience with other people. And here we are. I feel I am surrounded by extremely inspiring young people who want to make an impact addressing current social challenges in Ukraine.

I don’t believe I have THE answer to the problem, but yes I can contribute to empower youth in order for them to find their own answer through concrete actions. So stay connected. Very soon this apparent emptiness will turn into real life.



My first Ukrainian week – It is a small world

My experience in Ukraine started with the discovery of the main attractions in Lviv city center.  After hardly climbing the tower of Ratusha (the city council) and reaching the top where we had an amazing view of the city, I was very surprised to come across an Ukrainian girl at the Turistic In

formation Office that has a relative living in my little (unknown) town in Italy near Venice. It’s a small world! J
At first sight Lviv city center seems very similar to any other European city. Only when you experience the way public transports work, you immediately realize that Ukraine is a different story.
I will not describe any further the time our tram was stuck in the middle of the street for  15-20 minutes
( and people started shouting at the driver), but the ticket checking system worth a mention.
To check your ticket, there is a very atypical way of manually pulling a crank handle; if you get on the tram late and you are very far from the tram driver, you just pass the money to the person in front of you and you will receive your ticket staying comfortable on your seat. Italians should learn from Ukrainians how to trust people J

Going shopping at the Narodnii Market is another  highlight of the week. My colleague Marta and I spent 20 minutes trying to explain in Russian/English to an Ukrainian old lady that we need salt for the pasta.  A situation I will never forget!

And speaking about food…  You know that Italians usually are very skeptical about food outside their mothercountry. Well, I was very surprised to see that I like borsch and Ukrainian dishes are very good! ( I did not have any expectations, but realizing that I like them made me happy.)

Last but not least, I was very pleased to see a lot of children around the district where I live, Sikhiv. In this area there are a lot of parks where children can play or have a walk with their parents. Meeting a lot of grandparents taking around their grandchildren reminded me of my childhood strolling around with my grandparents in Italy. I could see so much attention in Ukrainians’ way of taking care of their little ones.
Therefore, I can say that Ukraine and Italy are very close in some ways. I am very curious to see how my Ukrainian life will be in the next months. As of now: Yes, it is a small world!