Tsvetelina, the Bulgarian Volunteer that Spent 8 Months in Marseille

Tsevetelina, our Bulgarian volunteer!

Tsvetelina is one of the volunteers we have sent to an EVS abroad in a project coordinated by our partner Eurocircle in Marseille. She spent 8 months in the French city of Marseille. It is the second largest city in France, holding a lot of traditions and a strong spirit, as well as possessing the largest, most famous, and oldest harbour in the country. Here is what she told us about the time she spent in the seaside town and what were her impressions of Great France.

The Voluntary Project

Hi Tsvetelina! Can you tell us what was your EVS project, what were the activities in which you were involved?

I was a volunteer at the Marseille Municipal Library for eight months. The activities were mainly related to organising reading events in neighbourhoods inhabited by communities with unequal social status. In the first months of the service, I prepared reports on the peculiarities of the different parts of the city, which we then used in project proposals. In the second part of the project I was dealing with the preparation of the events themselves – materials, book layout, list creation and archiving. During the third part of the project,  I organised events for children of different ages from different parts of the city together with the other team members.

Some of the reading events organised in neighbourhoods in need.

What sensation did social work bring you, which qualities do you think you have developed, thanks to it?

If I ever have the opportunity to choose what to do, without thinking about factors like money, I would definitely choose social work. There is nothing more rewarding and, even if it sounds like a cliche, you do it from the heart. You make the efforts not because you have to, but because you want, and that’s why things get so good on both sides. As for me, after the project, I realised that I was able to adapt to different situations. Even if you do not know the language very well in a particular country, there are always ways to cope with everyday life and make new friends. 

My volunteer service was also related to working with children, working with elderly people in nursing homes, and working with children with certain health conditions such as autism or troubles of attention. Looking back, I understand that these were some of the most meaningful moments for me in general – to give without expecting anything in return. At first, I was worried about working with people as a whole because of the language barrier, but the truth is that people always sense the good energy, and there are no better teachers than children – even if you do not pronounce the words in their language in the right way.

Can you tell us some interesting story from to your Voluntary experience in France?

There are many, but I will share one of the latest events at the “Partir En Livre” Festival. It was related to promoting reading and organising creative workshops with children. I helped one of the workshops, where children had to create and draw on postcards. I asked one of the children with whom I was working, to whom she wanted to send this card and she replied, “This is for Macron!”. The text was, “Dear President, you have a gift from me! Signed, Amy. ” Then Amy said that her mother told her that the letters to the president were free and that he read each and then responded to them personally. I laughed a lot, but I liked how little children are not afraid to express their opinions and are taught how to communicate with politicians. After all, this is France – the country of the revolution, and most people think that they can change the situation, whatever it is.

Would you tell your EVS experience was successful?

Yes, the project was definitely a success for me and it was carried out in the best way. I was able to learn French, and now I’m working with it, so for me, there are a lot more of positives aspects. The time spent in France gave me a lot, I learned how to rely on myself, opened my eyes to the world and how people abroad live. It helped me in some way to find myself and make my own, albeit temporary, choice to live outside Bulgaria. Besides, I know that the project is renewed, and I am currently looking forward to seeing who will be the next person to take the same role in Marseille.


The sunset in Marseille.

The French Culture

What did you learn about France, that you didn’t know before you left?

Generally speaking, their way of life is really nice, easy, they manage to enjoy the little pleasures in life. They are, of course, chauvinists, but that’s not really bad, because this way the present they give you is their language. An emigrant – a Pole, once told me that “you must have France in your heart” to decide to stay there, that you must accept it as a homeland. I think that’s right – France is a sensation. I can also say that I have learned to be more tolerant, no matter what colour the people have, how many opportunities they have, whether they are rich or poor. I’ve also learned not to judge people with their little flaws because perfection is fake and illusory. In Marseille, they called themselves “my brother” or “my sister” as a jargon, which I think is indicative and summarizes the way of thinking in southern France.

Tsetelina in the beautiful city of Marseille.

The Voluntary Experience

As the last question, how would you convince in a few words a person that has never left Bulgaria, to become a volunteer and to apply for a volunteering project with Association FOR YOU?

I want to say quite openly that the Association FOR YOU and especially Irena, my sending person, was of the biggest help during every moment of my service. From the beginning she was next to me to motivate me, tell me how well I was doing with the language, how perfectly I would fit the team in Marseille. I’m very glad I’m already part of the association because it’s one the few in Bulgaria who really cares for people, for its volunteers and the team is available at any moment. Naturally, there are moments of doubts, where you have to make a choice, but when you have a strong ally, the right choice suddenly seems obvious.

I would recommend to anyone who wonders whether to join the program or not, to apply instantly. This is the time when you can develop yourself in the best way, and perhaps create the best version of yourself. There was a thought that “We travel to find all the things we never knew we needed.” For me it was just that – I had eight months in which I did not worry about how I would survive the month, but on the contrary, I could enjoy every moment while giving little of bit myself to those in need.

The people you will meet during the project will make you discover new qualities within you because they will reflect your common needs at the moment, you will deal with the difficult moments together. You will risk, smile, and be happy that it was only the second car that stopped and picked you up when you were hitchhiking trying to return late at night from the beach. You will always go to the same shop to get Provencal cheese, go together on small spontaneous trips, read together in the library, prepare traditional meals for Christmas. You will understand that in the end, you speak in one language, wherever you are. You will share the love of the French macarons together, and together you will lament that you can not do them yourself. “Well, we’ll try together, and we can do it,” you will say at one point without suspecting that the whole meaning of your mission is right here in this sentence.

Bon Courage et Viva la France!