Testimonio Owen Martel | 30 años
I was at the youth center in Litija, Slovenia, for a year-long EVS project. Litija is a town of 6,000 people in the foothills of the Alps, on the banks of the Sava River, about half an hour from the capital city of Ljubljana by train.
I had wanted to live in Slovenia ever since I first visited the country back in 2011 as a tourist. When I found out about the EVS program while living in Santa Coloma as an English teacher, it seemed like a perfect way to go back to Slovenia while contributing to the much bigger project of the European Union. Freedom of movement and cultural openness are important to me, and I looked forward to working with local creative people in Litija on cultural projects.
I had quite a range of experiences over the course of the year. I lived in a shared house with three other EVS participants from Spain, France, and Germany, and we got along better than I could have hoped – it was always good to come home to a friendly and respectful household. I also enjoyed traveling around Slovenia and exploring its mountains, coast, and caves. We were able to meet other volunteers in different towns around the country, and it's no exaggeration to say these new friendships were life-changing. It was genuinely a year of dreams coming true. I also greatly enjoyed volunteering at local schools in addition to my official EVS project, experiences that I hope were useful to local students and that certainly strengthened my abilities as a teacher.
If there was anything disappointing about my EVS experience, it was actually the EVS project itself. The youth center where I worked felt directionless and purposeless most of the time, and it wasn't a great team of people to work with. There were problems. On the positive side, the situation gave me a tremendous amount of time and flexibility to pursue my own projects, which was an unexpected and very valuable opportunity.
Participating in EVS definitely made me feel like more of a European. At times I felt out of place as someone in my 30s, when the program ultimately seemed intended for people about ten years younger, but that won't factor much in my memories as time goes by. I hope I made a positive contribution during my time in Slovenia, and I look forward to going back before too long.
Thanks, Mundus, for opening the door to a special year.