My name is Yohanna Florin and I am 24 years-old. I come from Brest, Brittany, in France. I graduated first in History and political sciences as a Bachelor’s degree, then in geopolitics as a master’s degree with a specialisation in conflict management and mediation.
I love books and TV series. I love traveling, meeting people, discovering new places, and taking photos.
I was a volunteer in Arad, Romania, for 6 months as part of the Kaleidoscope 2.0 project. I became a volunteer for the European Solidarity Corps because I wanted to gain in experience while doing something different from what I’ve been studying for. I thought this project was very interesting because, to me, education is a pillar, and I’ve been learning a lot from my teachers those past few years and I thought it was time for me to give a little back. This experience was a good way to do just that.
Romania, my home for six months
I have been in Romania for three months now and I must admit that I feel at ease in Arad, almost like at home. I have adapted to the city, to the rhythm of life, to work.
I am starting to have my own habits and to know some people in Arad, through work and outside. Arad is a pleasant city to live in and is ideally located for travelling in Romania and beyond.
How was it to be hosted by EIVA organization ?
Trusting Organizatia EIVA and their project is a decision that I will never regret. Coming to Romania after one year of Covid and social isolation, getting out of my comfort zone was hard and I found an organisation that really listens to its volunteers and gives them all the support that they need. Being a volunteer in a foreign country means that you need help at least in the first few months with different kinds of procedures. EIVA always assisted me when I needed it. They accompanied us a lot at the beginning of the project to make sure that everything went smoothly, but they also gave us a lot of autonomy in the preparation of our workshops and activities. They were always flexible for our project and provided us with all the resources we needed for the workshops. The atmosphere in the office is indescribable: work is done efficiently and in a good mood. It’s a place where people enjoy meeting and spending time together.
Did you have the chance to travel during your volunteering ?
In August, we had some time off that we put to good use by traveling to central and northern Romania for a few days.
Our first stop was in Sibiu for two days. I discovered a city with many facets, from its medieval past to its lower town. We mainly walked in the center with its paved streets, wondered the Piața Mică and Mare, admired the characteristic “eyes” of the Sibiu roofs.
We also visited the Ethnographic Museum ASTRA, where houses from different regions of Romania are exhibited.
Then we spent a day in Târgu Mureș or Marosvásárhely in Hungarian. We walked around its central square and stopped in front of its Palace of Culture. We also visited the citadel, which was animated by a medieval festival.
For the last part of our trip, we spent almost a day in a train, which allowed us to admire the landscapes of the Carpathian mountains and its villages with colourful houses.
We arrived in Baia Mare at night, and that’s how we first discovered the town, from its historical center to the Piața Libertății. We returned the next day to find that the city is surrounded by mountains, giving it a whole new look by day.
This trip was a new step in my Romanian experience. The opportunity for me to discover a little more of this beautiful country.
Last week, one of the activity subjects in the library was « Workshop for Peace » learning about discrimination
We organized a workshop about discrimination based on drawings by the organization Cartooning for Peace, mostly focused on sexism. The aim was to have them look at the cartoons and describe them, giving their opinions about any type of discrimination. Then we had an activity where everyone could draw their own cartoon and express the things that affect them.
During this activity, the conversation was a bit harder with the children who didn’t dare to express what they thought. But they were a lot more expressive on paper and draw beautiful, committed cartoons.
Do you think you earned professionnal skills thanks to your volunteering ?
I enjoy working in each of the centers and from each of those different experiences, I have gained different skills that will be useful for the future. But if I have to choose, I would say that working in collaboration with the Library suits me better for a future profession. Because, having a free hand on the activities, I can approach subjects that are very close to my heart and try to make the children aware of them.
It is also a pleasure to be able to discuss and debate with them. It is thanks to this experience that I can measure the extent of their knowledge and drift on what is important to them. It has to remain an exchange between us.
One of the first skills I had to develop in this project is team spirit: we are a team of 5 volunteers where communication and listening to each other are essential to create the workshops. With this comes the importance of adaptability. Within the team, we have different personalities and different ideas. We also have to adapt to the structures, to the present context, and to the children in our care. Another important skill here is the ability to make ourselves understood because of the language barrier. Finally, it is important to be creative and inventive in order to constantly renew activities and workshops.
What can you tell us about the Romanian language classes provided by the organization?
As part of our volunteering project, we have been attending Romanian language classes once a week, during which we learn the basics of vocabulary, grammar and expressions that we can use in our project and in everyday life. Those classes are not only an introduction to the language but thanks to them, we manage a lot better in our everyday life communication as we easily assimilate words and expressions that we can hear or read in our surroundings.
Romanian is also interesting for us because of its similarities with our own Native languages. The Romanian language is influenced by those of surrounding countries such as Turkey, with which it has many words in common. It is also a latin language like French and as such, they have lots of similarities in vocabulary and grammar.
The Romanian language classes are also moments of conviviality and exchange between volunteers from different projects.