My experience volunteering at Pestalozzi – Andrea Ruiz

My name is Andrea, I am from Spain.

I spent a year working at Pestalozzi International Village as an EVS volunteer.

EVS is a programme fully funded by the European Commission through the new ERASMUS+ Programme that allows you to live for a period of 6 to 12 months in a foreign country, learn a new language, improve your skills and meet new people. The aim of EVS is to encourage tolerance, active citizenship and mutual understanding.

I had been thinking about applying for an EVS for a while but it was when AIPC-Pandora, my sending organization in Spain, told me about its partner Pestalozzi International Village Trust, when I decided to apply for it.

From the beginning I felt that Pestalozzi was the place where I wanted to be and now I can say that I took the correct decision.

My role was to support the Student Programme office. I helped students with Spanish and organised events and projects. I also trained and took part in the Hastings Half Marathon and set up a gardening project.

Apart from that I attended English classes at Sussex Coast College Hastings and took advantage of living in such beautiful countryside by visiting different places around the South of England.

What did I gain from volunteering at Pestalozzi?

Peace: although my life there wasn’t quiet because I was always doing something, I lived in the middle of a field surrounded by nature. Wherever you look you only see trees, slopes and wild animals.

Overcoming: since I arrived, every day has been a personal challenge: Language, new environment, being away from my comfort zone, new responsibilities…

Learning: I greatly improved my English, learning how to teach Spanish, to organize and coordinate activities and how a non-profit organization in England works.

The opportunity to create my own projects: thanks to the freedom and support I got from Pestalozzi, I have started my own projects such as organising a Christmas play, starting a gardening Project, organising an International dinner, etc.

Getting to know 40 amazing people (the international students): the best of the experience, certainly. Thanks to living, working and joining them in many daily activities, I have managed to know them better and I have realised how extraordinary they are; not only academically but also as humans. I am learning a lot from them and living with them is like travelling around the world without moving.

Staff: the environment where we live is not only beautiful because of the landscape but also for the warmth of the people who are in it. Amongst them, it is also the staff who have made me feel at home from the moment I arrived and I would like to make a special mention to Student Programme office, for all the support I received from them, all they taught me and because they have been capable of creating a wonderful atmosphere here.

Culture Shock: I chose this EVS Project not only because I wanted to live in a different country but because at Pestalozzi I could live with people from 11 different nationalities.

The cultural interchanges are part of our day to day activities and that is what makes Pestalozzi Village a place so special, a multicultural environment with such a wealth of nations.

Pestalozzi can certainly prove that the coexistence between different cultures, races and religions in peace and harmony is possible.

…and last but not least I would like to thank the whole Pestalozzi community (or family) not only for giving me the opportunity to live this experience but for helping me to enjoy it to the maximum.

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