Nine months ago I sat in the plane from Fort-de-France to Paris with my mind topsy-turvy and my thoughts sprinkled somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. This day I returned from my 6-month-long EVS experience in Martinique.
EVS stands for European Voluntary Service and is a program which is funded by the EU. You look for a project that seems appealing to you and then work in exchange for accommodation, food and a bit of pocket money.
For me the EVS was a special experience that I wouldn’t want to miss and I’ll tell you why.
Martinique is an island in the Caribbean Sea belonging to France. Being a volunteer there I was able to learn the traditional dances of the island. Moreover, I taught English for kids and adults. A local farm gave me the possibility to learn more about the local flora (with the other volunteers I harvested guavas, eggplants and onions and peeled coffee seeds). Apart from this, I helped with administrative work of the NGO I was volunteering at and took part in the decision-making process of organizing small-scale, local events.
All in all, I was satisfied with my project in Martinique. Due to the special location, I got to know the amazing flora and fauna, cuisine and traditions. Thanks to some lovely people I met, I was able to learn about the mix of African traditions (which are especially notable in music and dance), French habits (language and culture) and Carribean ways of living which make Martinique an exciting island. I enjoyed observing the behavior of the local people and their "savoir vivre".
If you plan on doing an EVS, here are some tips I see as very important: Take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you. Don’t sit at home and be bored for no reason. Go out, talk to strangers, be open and trust, try out unknown things. And don’t be scared. A whole bunch of people have done this before you and most of them regard their EVS as something remarkable and unforgettable.
To sum up, I can only recommend the EVS to everybody who is eager to learn, discover and explore in a different context. My stay broadened my horizon and gave me new impulses and ideas. I improved on intercultural communication and interaction and became more confident. I carried home lots of positive memories which are still kept in my heart.