In Stuttgart with the IVY initiative!
Hey! This is Theodoros from Athens, Greece! Back in May I decided to jump head-first into an adventure, a deployment with the Interreg Volunteer Youth at the European Foundation for Education in Stuttgart, Germany for 2 months, from July to September. Since that moment, I have not regretted it once!
I may be four weeks into my IVY adventure, but I am still not sure exactly how I felt when I was contacted by IVY through the European Solidarity Corps platform. This would be my first big chance to open my wings, broaden my mental horizons, leave the comfort zone that my city and country were and experience first-hand what moving to and living in a foreign country entails, no matter how short my time there would be.
Let’s be honest. I was kind of scared. Part of me wanted to go through this experience, but another part wanted to just stay home, in this world of mine where I can just enjoy my summer without much thought, where travelling lasts for a maximum of 10 days, where I know what to expect. I decided not to hold myself back and to just do it!
Obligatory above-the-clouds cheesy pic.
I arrived in Stuttgart with a connecting flight from Amsterdam in a dark, stormy night of July, but I was not going to let the weather hold me back! I figured everything out and managed to reach the house I would have to make into a home just after 1 o’ clock at night. When the morning came, I went to my new workplace and everything started being much simpler from there on.
The project I am working under is called EDU-LAB. It is, in a few words, about connecting interested parties from countries in the Danube area to work for the improvement of the job prospects of young people in the region.
In the four weeks I have been with the European Foundation for Education I have helped with, in no particular order and not limited to these:
creating a video for the landing page of a series of e-learning courses we are preparing,
managing the organization’s LinkedIn account and developing a social media strategy to further improve our reach,
designing promotional material to be disseminated through social media and in print,
reporting project expenses to the European Union,
providing tech support for our brand new electronic reporting system to the project partners.
Trust me, it sounds like I have done much more when it’s written like this!
The solidarity aspect of my deployment cannot be stressed enough. From my small workstation here in Stuttgart I am, in a way, making it easier for young people from all around the Danube region to find work, not only improving their standard of living but also showing how the European Union can make life better for all of us! This simple thought is what drives me to make my day rock every day!
Volunteering with IVY is, of course, not just about living in a foreign country and providing for the common good. Sometimes you have to party! Despite coming here alone and being somewhat of an introvert, with the help of applications like Party With a Local and Couchsurfing I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, who helped me have some of the best Friday and Saturday nights of my life!
One more thing that pushed me to go to Stuttgart for two months is how central it is. Most European cities are central compared to Athens, of course, but this would be a first class opportunity to see Europe through small weekend getaways. Last weekend I went to Munich, for example, and am now preparing more such weekend getaways to Strasbourg (I can only hope the weather is good enough to go to the Europapark!), Frankfurt and a big, four-or-five-day one to Berlin! Below you will find some photos from my weekend in Munich.
In the four remaining weeks I will be spending in Germany I plan to do what I’ve been doing all along: helping people through my work and having a blast at the same time! If you are considering going on an IVY deployment, I only have two words for you: do it! It’s an experience of a lifetime and you won’t regret it!