Interview with European Solidarity Corps (ESC) Volunteers Lucía and Ismael
Donegal Youth Service has been a sending and hosting organisation for the European Solidarity Corps (formerly the European Voluntary Service or EVS) for over 10 years.
Over that time we have hosted volunteers from all over Europe and even further afield. Including Spain, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Georgia, and Russia to name a few. These young people have spent up to 12 months volunteering with us in our various projects. We have also sent young people to other countries for European volunteering opportunities including Spain, Italy, Madeira, and Poland.
Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 Pandemic our 2019/2020 volunteers had to leave a few weeks earlier than expected in March. Luckily they both made it home to Spain safely. Just after they got home we caught up with them to chat about their experiences.
Here’s what they had to say…
Lucia: Hi! My name is Lucía and I’m 26 years old. I’m from a small town in southern Spain, Huelva, in the autonomous community of Andalucía.
Ismael: Hi my name is Ismael, I am 20 years old and I am from Spain living in Madrid. I like sports, I have been 8 months in Ireland.
What did you do at Donegal Youth Service?
Lucia: I was Assistant Youth Information Officer in the Youth Information Centre, YIC. My main role was working as a graphic designer. I was in charge of design work, including posters and leaflets, for YIC. Besides that, I assisted in the organization of several events and activities.
Ismael: My principal job was to stay in the drop in with the young people supervising them, and to entertain the young people playing table tennis or pool and I had different projects during week; on Tuesdays I went with the young people to play football or The Garage Project, or to help in the Aura with Fit4Life.
What made you want to come to Donegal, and to Donegal Youth Service?
Lucia: One day, listening to the radio, I heard about European Solidarity Corps, ESC, and, after a little research on the Internet, I decided I wanted to be part of it.
When I found this ESC opportunity on Facebook, I checked DYS website and I saw all the projects and groups they are involved with. I love how they contribute to create a better society and how they help young people to become better citizens.
Ismael: One of the reasons was to work with young people and to go to Ireland because one of my goals was to learn English.
Please share a personal highlight from your time in Ireland…
Lucia: Travelling to many awesome places in Ireland! I talked with a lot of people with different backgrounds and that helped me to be more open-minded and get to know more about Irish traditions.
Ismael: One of my goals was to be remembered and make friends above all and I believe that I have achieved those two things and it is what has undoubtedly made me leave happy to know that I can return there and feel at home.
Please share a highlight from your work with Donegal Youth Service…
Lucia: The Time to Move event. That was my favourite. It gave me the chance to talk about European mobilities and share my experience with young people interested in participating in it.
Ismael: I have had many of them, but one of my favorites was on Fridays that I stayed until 9 because I was talking to people who came to put some Spanish music on and play table tennis.
What has been the biggest surprise about Donegal/Ireland? Is there something cultural that surprised you? Something that’s really different from back home?
Lucia: I think what surprised me the most was the weather and how easily it can change from sunny to rainy and stormy. Besides that, before I came to Ireland, I thought that Irish and Spanish cultures would be pretty similar, because both countries are Catholic and European, but, even if we celebrate the same holidays, as Christmas and Easter, we do it in a very different way.
Ismael: I think what has surprised me the most has been how friendly and welcome I have felt within the country both at work and abroad I have never felt like I was not at home. Maybe in Spain the people don’t have this confidence from the first moment.
What’s your favourite thing about Donegal?
Lucia: Its people. I didn’t know Irish people were so friendly! I’m really going to miss Ireland. I left a part of me there.
Ismael: The people without a doubt, the views is other point.
What would you say to a young person who isn’t sure about doing an ESC? Why should someone do an EVS?
Lucia: It’s a once in a lifetime experience that helps you to discover new things about the world and yourself. It’s completely free and helps you to improve your skills and CV.
Ismael: It is a very easy answer, do it without any doubt! You do not have to think about it as I did, it is an experience where you learn both on a personal and knowledge level.
What will you miss about Donegal/Ireland?
Lucia: The countryside. I loved waking up every morning seeing those green landscapes and seeing the cows when I walked to work.
Ismael: Everything and everybody, was my home for 8 months, before I was a Spanish boy now I think I feel a little Irish as well.
These opportunities are all expenses paid, and volunteers also receive a small amount of ‘pocket money’. Young people aged 18-30 can avail of an ESC experience which can be from 2 weeks to a maximum of 12 months. Please contact Donegal Youth Service for more information. You can visit www.donegalyouthservice.ie, call 074 91 29630 or find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
This interview was originally published in The Leader. Donegal Youth Service are proud to have a column in each issue. Pick up your free copy today!