Story of Simona Oravcová, young volunteer from Slovakia

Volunteering can offer you rewarding experiences and opportunities to develop your skills. Europass supports you in planning and recording your volunteering experience.

Here is a story of young volunteer Simona and her volunteering experience and the skills she learned in the process:

Simona traveled via the “AFS Interculture programs” program, which mediates exchange trips for high schoolers all over the world. It is a global NGO with many offices worldwide.

„I have to say, I could not find a better organization. I managed right away to synchronize with my colleagues and the work rhythm,“ she smiled happily.

Volunteer, which donated her time to volunteers

Simona always had Prague remembered as a place, which she wants to try to live in, at least for a while. “When I started to travel alone as a 17-year-old, Prague was one of my favorite places, which I dared to visit alone.” During the volunteering program, this dream became true. Her main duty was to attend to other volunteers.

“By knowing other cultures, students learn respect, deepen peace, understanding and harmony. Volunteers represent a significant part of AFS and many of them treat it as a job. I work with my project coordinator, and I think we work very well together. I could not wish for a better coach.”

Her most rewarding activity was the organization of events. Simona values, that she was able to fulfill in the activities, in which she found herself. “I enjoyed organizing the yearly AFS Ball, which is an event for students, host families, and volunteers, or the Safe Space event, which I created and AFS supported me in my free planning of the pilot event.” The events were important to push the AFS values, mostly respect for each other, and deepening of peace. The Safe Space event was full of workshops for topics like self-love, body shaming, mental health, or LGBTQ coming-out.

It is important to talk and stand up for yourself

According to Simona, it is one of the skills, that she gained from volunteering. “Technical skills, planning, responsibility. Independence, courage, understanding. I learned to speak for myself, explain in various ways, and ask a lot.

In her free time she spent a lot of time in the streets, parks and wonderful cafes. Exchange is also about a close understanding of the city and a foreign culture. One can gain new and unknown patterns in life. “My home is the world. As a child, I never left Slovakia, and never traveled abroad. I felt that I want to break from my ignorance about the world outside. That is why since I am 17, I try to travel as much as possible.”

She talks about volunteering with everyone

“I talk to everyone about this opportunity. It is not quite a job, but a person must still take it as a job. It is a beautiful time to know oneself and the world. Volunteering is a lifestyle, that every young person should try mandatory. It helps the volunteer and also all around them. The more people volunteer, the more they contribute to change and return of humanity to society.”

You should do it also when you are afraid. Or, maybe even exactly when you are afraid the most, was the message from Simona at the end. “I was also afraid and then it turned out to be a lot of new possibilities and new doors to life, so now I do not know which to choose first. The more we discover, the more colorful our life is. Life is not about always being in our comfort zone.