- Nome ▷ Francesco
- Destinazione ▷ Odsherreds Efterskole – Danimarca – ICYE
- Durata progetto ▷ 11 mesi (agosto 2018 – giugno 2019)
“Denmark?! And where is it? ”, This was the typical reaction of my family to the news of my move to Denmark for one year to carry out the EVS.
▷ Why did you choose to participate in an EVS?
When I was at university, I could not join the Erasmus program, although I would have liked to. After university for various things I had to start working, and so my desire to go outside Italy to visit another country and experience its culture did not fade away, but was placed in an imaginary drawer.
Until I had the opportunity to take time for myself, for personal and professional growth, and while I was looking, I found the EVS, European Volunteer Service. Thanks to it, I was able to select a fairer volunteer project for me, in the European country that most interested me. I tried to apply for different projects, I was looking for a long experience, that could allow me to become part of the culture of the place, learn the basics of the language, and to do as many experiences as possible.
Eventually I was selected for a project at a boarding school in Denmark, in Fårevejle, a small village about an hour from Copenhagen.
The chosen project assured me to become part of the life of an Efterskole, particular types of boarding school, which they only have in Denmark. In recent years I found myself interested in teaching, and being able to find myself in school’s life at 360° was really tempting for me.
These were the premises of my EVS
▷ What were your first impresssions?
Before leaving Italy I found myself with family and friends who asked me if in Denmark there was the same time zone as in Italy, if it was on another continent and any other kind of embarrassing questions.
After greetings, I left. I arrived in Denmark in the summer, so the weather was pleasant. I got to know the Vice Principal, who was also the person who selected me. They gave me a tour of the school, and the house, which would have been my home for almost a year. There was a lot to learn to get into the mechanisms of the Efterskole, so the early days passed quickly. In my spare time I went to explore the surroundings, the school had provided me with a travel card, so I could always take the train and visit the nearby cities. Inevitable visits to Copenhagen, almost every other weekend I was there to discover this metropolis of the North, with its interesting life, and people from all over the world.
At the beginning the settling there was not particular easy, but how someone can imagine, and nothing too serious or nothing that we didn’t solve. Ups and downs in one year experience away from home, for the first time is totally understandable.
In almost all of Denmark there is a difference from Italy, infrastructure, punctuality and organization of transportations, society, food, form of government, school system, languages spoken, there was so much to learn.
▷ What can you tell us about your project?
After settling into the rules and life of the Efterskole, I could also start with teaching activities. I became an assistant in the Film class and in the English class, and I could also teach by myself Italian language and audiovisual workshops. Being a volunteer and wanting to discover the life of the Efterskole, I also had other tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, evening and weekend duties.
The life in the Efterskole is busy, teachers can’t rest. Anyway, I managed to become more acquaintances with some, especially with the ones I had duties with. They were friendly and nice, understanding, especially in the first period, that has been quite hard for me.
Everyone could speak very good English, so I didn’t have communication problems. I also joined a Danish language course and so I learnt some basics. I passed the exam for the first Module; this was really significant for me. I also met interesting people there, other foreigners and the lessons were always fun.
▷ Your Activities?
Life in the Efterskole goes fast. Odsherreds Efterskole, my Efterskole, is an International Efterskole, and there is always something new, guests from a sister school in America or Africa or Asia, traveling around the world, Festivals, Danish guests who present an important theme or want to give a good example for students.
In particular I had the possibility to go to Uganda and to Cambodia, almost two weeks trip each. Wonderful experiences that helped me become closer with the students I was responsible for and with my fellow teachers. And most important we had the chance to bring help and happiness in local people’s life, something that I will always bring with me.
In the evening, you are committed to having activities, events, as well as in the weekends. And I helped with that as well. You never get bored.
As part of the EVS and the network of volunteers I took part in courses for volunteers in Denmark. They were really fun and meaningful experiences, in which I was able to meet other volunteers, other people who, like me, wanted to take time to come to another country to help and find out more about themselves.
▷ What did this project bring you from a professional and personal point of view?
The experience with the students is the one that I will bring with me forever, both professionally and humanly. In Efterskole teachers have their own group of students, for which they are responsible, and try to help when they need it. I also had my group, even if not officially. I spent so much time with them, in the Efterskole and also outside with trips and activities. I hope I have helped them as much as they have helped me.
Because it is this too, not only you help and work but you also grow. I can honestly say that I learned a lot from my experience here, and will return home to Italy enriched on a professional and personal level.
One a personal note I will also say that I spent my thirty years birthday there, and that day everyone was really nice to me. I had baked a traditional Italian cake and some brownies for the teachers, school’s stuff and my students. I received a lot of birthday wishes, some students sang birthday songs for me, I received a couple of gifts and a birthday card from my students. That I think is the happiest memory of my experience here.