By Manon Bodren
Manon Bodren is a Law graduate of the Université d'Auvergne-Ecole de Droit et Science Politique Clermont and is currently an EVS volunteer at Inter Alia
The desire to make a European Voluntary Service represents to me a desire of discoveries, innovations, make me confront another reality than the life of a student in France. I wish to speak about and understand some society problems especially through experience and not just repeat what the media say or be influenced by what my close circle think. I want to forge my own opinion.
It was never my intention to leave with the Erasmus exchange program. First, because I realise that my English is catastrophic but mostly because I wanted to get out of the formal framework that is the university.
I think that educational institutions sometimes tend to stigmatize people who are outside the "norm". Given that the school system is recognized by all, these people are not valued. Indeed, there are very specific expectations to be fulfilled and if we don’t, the stigmatization process starts. In this way, many children, teenagers or students find themselves excluded from a system which is similar as the only reference in our society.
This is the vision I had and I still have. School is the "supreme institution" in our societies. It seems to me it is important for everyone, I hear of people, fully integrated into the school learning process and those that are less integrated, that discover the world around us with a less formal education and can be more practical, concrete towards the aim to create their own opinion. EVS appears to be an informal way to acquire new skills. Indeed, it requires no special skills. In this way, it is easy to improve in a language, for example.
So I sought a way to go abroad outside any formal framework. I confess at the beginning of my research, I was scared at the idea of stopping my studies for one year. Blame social pressure ... The original idea was from a friend. We were aware of the existence of this famous European Voluntary Service. The idea immediately seduced us! However, it seemed difficult to live together. Especially, it is easier to open up to other cultures when traveling alone. I applied in several associations in the European Union and thanks to Inter Alia I can now live the EVS experience in Greece.
Why Greece? It was THE country in Europe that I absolutely wanted to discover. Obviously I had heard about the wonderful landscapes and paradisiac island I want to discover quite sure, but it's not my first motivation. Greece, recently, has been at the centre of attention of Europe in particular because of the economic crisis or the refugee crisis. This country which everyone spoke about aroused my curiosity. I want to know the feelings of Greek and form my own opinion about them. It is also a culturally, very interesting country with its history that influences until today, including its relations with other European countries. It is an interesting country to discover in the sense that is "multifaceted."
Why Athens? I wanted to be in a large town to discover and meet people. I didn’t know Athens. In general, this city does not have good reputation, especially with tourists. It is known as dirty and not pretty, except the Acropolis. I think these tourists do not stay long enough to enjoy and soak up the atmosphere that makes this city so special, between graffiti and archaeological sites, among coffee shop and souvlaki... Exarchia district, renowned for being anarchist and dangerous, is anything but dangerous. There is a different atmosphere than in the rest of the city. It is a mix of traces of the past rebellions, lightness and small cafes occupied by students.
Why Inter Alia? Looking at the website of Inter Alia, I have noticed that this NGO was full of projects of all kinds on current topics that interested me, like migration in Europe or Child protection subjects on which Inter Alia has partners internationally. In addition, it has available the areas of research, analysis, debate where everyone can speak on a subject close to his heart. I hope to participate in some projects in order to learn new working methods but also learn new things about the topics. I also hope to be able to work with Inter Alia on a subject that has not been addressed, a problem of society present in France and in Greece or otherwise comparing a problematic situation in France with that of Greece. I also hope to meet different people throughout my EVS but for that, I intend also to improve my English!
If you are interested in an EVS with us, please, follow our open positions on the European Youth Portal: https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisation/946645602_en or here: www.interaliaproject.com/news.php?id=118
© Inter Alia 2013