My name is Angelina and I spent 2017 as an EVS volunteer with Xchange Scotland. I was involved in international voluntary service as a participant and later as a full-time staff member of an NGO in Moscow where I’m from for over 9 years. By the time I started my EVS I had various experiences in my life, which included a lot of travelling and even living abroad. I had friends from different countries and I was very confident in my English. In a nutshell, I felt very prepared for this new adventure, thought nothing could really surprise me and I knew I was going to have a great time. There is no doubt that I did, but this was not as smooth of a ride as I initially expected.
I think this is also the first time I truly had an intercultural learning experience. Not the one where you try foreign food and learn three words in a foreign language. But a really deep one, the one that made me question everything, think and grow as a human being. When you work at a charity, which is as small as Xchange Scotland, you will essentially do many different tasks. It’s an environment where you have to be creative, hard working and motivated. It was tough as times but also rewarding.
Despite the fact that I used to work in the same field before, I discovered a lot of new angles to the job, learnt about problems of Scottish youth and how they are so similar to Russian young people and so different at the same time. Doing promo, Erasmus+ awareness raising events and other presentations I went to Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Dundee and even as far as Orkney.
I’ve met people from different organisations working for a better Scotland, which was very educational and inspiring. I did sessions for young people at the Rangers Study Centre, which uncovered a whole side of Glaswegian history I have never even heard of, prepared leaders for our summer projects, which involved dozens of youngsters coming from all over Europe to volunteer in Scotland and prepared Scottish folk to go on short-term and long-term exchanges to other countries.
And as a result, I felt in love with Scotland and will miss it and its people dearly.