Few Icelanders know about the EVS program, so to find someone who had done European volunteering abroad was presented as an arduous and complicated task. At least I already had the first question. Why don´t many people know about EVS? Thanks to Erika, from Hungary, a really nice person with whom I shared the house for a couple of weeks, I found Ingo. He had done volunteering in Hungary, and both had a mutual friend. Ingólfur, 22, is studying law at the University of Iceland and he is a very friendly guy, who suggested to have a coffee with me to tell me about Iceland and the EVS through the eyes of an Icelander
When and where did you go as EVS?
It was from September 2011 until March 2012, six months in Hungary. In Iceland you have to study secondary education until the age of 20. I’m Icelandic and neither can I understand why… Anyway, before I started my degree, I wanted to do something different, I applied to volunteer to go to Greece, but it was not possible. Finally my organization offered me to go to Hungary and I accepted.
What was your project about?
My host organization (Mustashaz) has its own radio, the project was to create a radio program in which bring culture, language, music … from Iceland to Hungary. It was somehow connecting the two countries, a sort of “Island Shake” but on the radio. The project was shared with three other EVS from Portugal, Italy and Poland. It was a very good experience, better than expected, because as I said, this had been a plan B
How did you discover the EVS? Was it difficult to find a project?
A friend of my father works in the national agency which coordinated the EVS program in Iceland. When I decided to take a year off to do something different before starting college, I thought about traveling to Asia, but this person told me about the European voluntary and contacted Husid Hitt, my sending organization. Well, I could not go to Greece as I wanted at first, but I can´t say it was difficult to get the project. At the end the destination was Hungary but anyway it was a great experience.
Here the European voluntary is not really known. You found it almost by accident … Why do you think that EVS is so unknown in Iceland?
It is not known at all, not many young people know of this opportunity. Young people in particular and Icelanders in general are very used to traveling. I would say most Icelanders travel abroad once or twice a year, even more. From my point of view, EVS offers the opportunity to live experiences abroad, for a relatively long period, without the economic factor as a condition, but young Icelanders usually do not need to take this formula, the cheapest one. To travel to Europe, U.S. or Asia is very normal among young people here, and to work a summer or with the support of their parents is usually sufficient. On the other hand, I also think it has something to do with our culture, Icelanders are more cold and distant than the southern Europeans, and perhaps this keeps us a bit away from these initiatives.
What did you learn from EVS? or What has European volunteering contributed to you?
In Hungary, not many people speak English, or at least where I lived. When I say “No English” I mean they did not speak a word. Living with so few chances to communicate, it may be hard, but also teaches you to be more self-sufficient. Moreover, the multicultural context of volunteering always favours to practicing other languages. Within the project I gained some technical skills in editing both video and radio.
Now that you have lived EVS … Do you recommend EVS to the Icelanders?
Of course, even if you have the opportunity to travel on your own, in volunteering you find interesting and friendly people,that you probably would not find in other way. Personally I think you discover the people and the place as volunteer better than as a tourist.