EVS Gathering E+ TC, Czechia / Nov 2016

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The Training course under Erasmus+/ study visit which took place from 21st to 27th of November, 2016 was for EVS coordinators and mentors, the organizer was NGO ANEV.

There were 30 participants from Austria, Macedonia, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Armenia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Portugal, Slovakia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, and we had two great trainers Helena and Honza.

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The location was Hotel Lipovy, in a town called Moravka. To reach there from Prague, I took a train to Ostrava which took 3.5 hours and 2 buses (approximately 1 hour) from there to Moravka.I was lucky to meet 2 friendly people who could speak English on the way. (which is rare in rural areas) They helped me to communicate with the bus driver, so that I reached the place easily.  The hotel was in an isolated area in the woods, which helped us to be there fully with our minds as well as our bodies, without any distraction 🙂

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On the first day of the training we had few activities which worked as icebreakers in the group, so that we started getting to know each other in a fun way.   After completing these activities, we were supposed to prepare a list of all the participants in the group, including the names, countries and a common thing we have with each person. As well as helping us to remember the names, it was also a useful tool to rediscover yourself, while trying to find a common feature with a person you have just met.

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We were asked to bring a stone from our countries which will represent our country and can be found easily on the streets. I was surprised to figure out how hard it is to find a stone on the streets of İstanbul J then, I have decided to dig my garden to find one, eventually I had my little stoneJ  We used our stones in various activities. In one of them we were outside the hotel, had a short walk in the woods, and tried to find a perfect spot for our stones. In another one which we had one of the following days, we tried to find a spot for the stones of our partners. This spot needed to fit the person who owns the stone in a way. This activity supported our ability to have more empathy which is needed for our projects to support the volunteer and for your lives.

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One day was booked for study visits to NGOs in Český Těšín . The town lies on the west bank of the Olza river which is the border of Polish city , Cieszyn and Czech city, Cesky Tesin.The only way to notice you’re in another country is a line in the middle of the bridge marking the actual border point. People freely move from Cieszyn to Cesky Tesin and the other way around.

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We visited a High School for the teenagers with autism. It was the first time I have been in a school for special children with mental disorders. I was very impressed by how much care they receive from the personnel and volunteer working there.  A group of students prepared an English class for us. In the lesson, they sang songs in English and dance in harmony.  They also tried to communicate with us by asking our names and where are we from in English. They were looking very excited and happy to be part of the class and expressing themselves. The skills which will enable kids to meet their everyday needs are thought in the school. They also have fun activities together, such as baking cookies, playing games.

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The second place was an inspiring community center, that was visited by school children and young people from socially excluded families. The place provides social counselling, leisure-time activities and an offer for a safe background for educational and social development of the users free of charge. When were there, some teenagers showed up, after some hesitation they started speaking with us (despite language barrier) and played games with us.

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  1. 1.        THE ORDINARY WORLD.  The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history.  Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
  2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE.  Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change.
  3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL.  The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.  Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.
  4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.  The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.
  5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.  At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.
  6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.
  7. APPROACH.  The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.
  8. THE ORDEAL.  Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life.
  9. THE REWARD.  The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.
  10.   THE ROAD BACK.  About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.
  11.  THE RESURRECTION.  At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.
  12.  RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR.  The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.

On the last day, we analyzed the similarity of Hero’s journey and an EVS volunteers.

The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. The steps he describes are very simliar to the ones a volunteer faces during the Evs process. We went through each step and discussed where and how whe can hep them as mentors.

This concept is also valid for everybody.No matter who you are, where you come from, what you’re trying to create, or what you fear most .. We all walk a similar path, and identifying the steps on that path can give us insight into where we have been, and what we have yet to face.

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The process is explained  very well by Matthew Winkler in the video below;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhk4N9A0oCA

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During the week, in addition to the informal training methods we learnt, we also had some tranings on topics like comminication and q&a on the best practices. In order to create a better environment for networking, we organized an organisation bazaar in which we had a chance to present our organisations and countries.

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Overall, It was an amazing experince to be a part of the traning to explore best pratices all over Europe, to meet great people , spent time in nature and have an opportunity to experince a self journey.

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After completing the training we visited Praque on the way back home. We were so lucky to be there in Chrismas time as we had the chance to see beautiful streets of Prague decorated with spectacular lights and feel the spirit of Chrismas as a locals..

                                                                                                                 Tuğçe Kurşun / Youth Eurasia

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