ESC (The European Solidarity Corps) is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. The participant must be between the age of 18 – 30.
Euroopan solidaarisuusjoukot kokoaa eurooppalaiset nuoret yhteen rakentamaan tasa-arvoisempaa ja oikeudenmukaisempaa yhteiskuntaa, jossa nuorten ääni kuuluu ja sitä kuunnellaan. Ohjelmaan voivat osallistua 18-30 -vuotiaat nuoret.
Moikka, I am Emilie, the 2nd ESC volunteer for the AFS Finland office. I am from France, I’m 28 years old and graduated last year from an Erasmus Mundus Master in Intercultural Mediation and Migration.
I went to Finland 10 years ago (2009-2010) with AFS and was hosted in two incredible Finnish families in Paltamo, Kainuu. When I got back, I started to volunteer for AFS as I was always volunteering for youth organizations, such as the World Scout Movement or the CISV.
Over the summer, I was in assisting the summer programs coordinator Asta. Together we planned and run orientation camps for this summers Homestay, English in the North and Future Leaders students. On my first week of ESC-volunteering I faced a challenging moment – to plan an orientation camp for 2 summer programs in for days. I was not yet familiar with my new work environment and all the activities were written in Finnish. Hopefully, I could count on amazing co-volunteers to help me and my very supportive mentor, to carry on this task.
I participated in the year and semester students orientation camp of the Keski-Uusimaa and Lahti chapters. It was fun but baffled me too, as to reflect that the experience of being an exchange student, is certainly no bed of roses.
Aside from rather administrative tasks, I also planned a full week of recreational visits. This allowed me, in a busy summer time, to enjoy what Helsinki had to offer! I enjoyed a lot discovering this new part of Finland that I only knew a little about.
What is good about being a volunteer is that you can participate in events and trainings which will enrich yourself. As mentioned above, I am quite an active volunteer in France. This year, I joined the new program of advocacy offered by EFIL (European Federation of Intercultural Learning). I then took part in my first European Youth Conference co-organized by Allianssi and the Finnish EU presidency. There, I met Mrs. Saarikko, Ministry of Science and Culture, at that time.
I participated in the 2019 edition of the VSS (Volunteer Summer Summit) for AFS volunteers. It was held near the city of Graz in Austria. The theme was “volunteering for impact”, a subject that speaks to me.
Now that the buzzling summer is a distant memory, as temperature decrease quite sharply, my last task consists of reviewing the exam week exercises for the exchange students studying in Finnish high schools. Along with it, I organized some focus groups with Finnish volunteers to discuss how we could improve school relations within our own network.
This was my first all female working environment. At first the situation amazed me quite a lot, but I am very impressed. I was particularly enjoying being daily surrounded by these 9 hard working women. A funny moment would be when one Friday, we were very few at the office and three of us were wearing striped shirt without mutual consultation first.
Another one very good memory, would be to have met with Finnish MP (Member of Parliament), Anders Adlercreutz. Actually Adlercreutz is an AFSer himself and also hosted several exchange students. Him and and his wife are both former AFS exchange students. You can tell “AFS is connecting lives and sharing cultures”.
About this ESC position (aka the European Solidarity Corps volunteer position): it is the new European Union initiative in order to create opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects within the EU that benefit communities and people. The volunteer gets a Youth Pass -certificate.
During the volunteer program, we need to have a mentor within the organization. Actually the funny part was that I actually already knew my mentor Elisa. We met and became friends 10 years ago during my exchange student time.
In the ESC program all the transportation expenses and food costs are being covered. Normally you can also benefit from language lessons, but because of the summer period, no Finnish lessons were available.
Cost of living are also covered. Within the AFS network, the possibility of being hosted in a host family is quite high, that was also one of my reasons to come and to do this ECS here. I was hosted in Jokela in a language wise mixed family, the host dad is a Swedish speaker and the mother Finnish, but everyone speaks Finnish at home. I must say, it changed my life to spend two hours a day on public transport, but with time I managed to get used to it.
ESC tunnettiin ennen EVS-ohjelmana.