Victoriya’s work and adventure experiences during European Solidarity Corps

Lovely Victoriya tell us more about her work and adventures during European Solidarity Corps in France. Read below to see what she has to share.

Hello! Please introduce yourself – what is your name, where do you come from and what are you doing?

My name is Victoria Mikova, I am 22 years old, born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Since my high school years I have been involved in fashion – professionally, as well as in dozens of volunteer initiatives. In the last 3-4 years, I have started to be interested in participating in, and subsequently organizing and coordinating European Youth Exchanges across European countries.

Have you had any other long-term experience abroad?

Long term – no, but before the European Solidarity Corps I worked in the sector of creating, organizing, coordinating and finalizing youth exchanges and training courses for numerous European organizations and because of my work I spent most of the months abroad.

How did you find out about ESC and what motivated you to get involved?

I am familiar with what ESC is from a few years ago and I have always known that I would be a sure candidate.
I like the idea of volunteering in every aspect, I like to develop myself while contributing to the development of other young people. I find it addictive and necessary “good” and I am very happy to be part of its spread.  I got involved because I decided that now it is the right time – for me, individually – and because I liked the dynamics of the job I do. I am an extrovert and feel fulfilled with positivism during the youth exchanges where I work as an organizer and coordinator.

What are your tasks at the host organization?

As I mentioned before – I write projects, I organize them, coordinate them on the spot and finalize them. I am responsible for the young people who are involved in the projects, for the preparation of a program that is inherently related to non-formal education and the development of particular skills and competences. I would say that my activity is multicomponent, but I manage and I like it.

What is the hardest part of your volunteer life?

Thinking honestly about the question – I don’t think anything is more difficult or complicated than what I expected or what I have experienced. There are a number of stressful situations, because my work involves people, sometimes minors, and the responsibility is big – what you give them, in your role as coordinator, as well as just as another young person. Yet I believe that behind every activity there are challenges, stress, fatigue, etc. and that is why I am trying to mainly focus on the other side of the coin – positivism, rapid and alternative thinking and multi-functionality.

What gives you the most joy and inspiration for the project?

Definitely the fact that I do what I love and want. I feel extremely grateful, happy and even more hopeful for our “young generation” after my many meetings with people my own age or close to my own. I encounter a great deal of creativity, different thinking, different cultures, languages, religions, and this brings me an incredible inner peace and a high sense of self-worth, as well as faith in a good future, of course.

What surprised you the most in France? What are the differences from Bulgaria?

I do not think I have an accurate answer to this question. The experience I have from before has built up a heightened level of open mindedness in me, and over time, I began to accept almost everything and everyone very easily and allow the different characters, nationalities, races, etc. closer to myself – with almost no prejudices. I love Bulgaria and have the warmest feelings for everything related to it, but what I can say is that we are a country of prejudices – we have them for all nationalities, for every situation and all types of people. And it seems that with my experience in France, I was able to shake off all the unwanted prejudices and create a slightly different perception of the world around me. I also changed my mind on the French people, as traveling around the country showed a completely different outlook of the locals. I see them in a much better way, much more responsive and with a taste for the life they live.

Tell us any intresting or funny story that happened during your volunteering?

It is clichéd, but funny stories are many and they are part of everyday life. I could share kind of culture shock for me – people in France do not like to work. I had to be in some smaller towns, at work, and as is known in France people have Siesta – which is their lunch break and lasts 3 hours – from 12:00 to 15:00 and they start working at 15:00 but it is by no means compulsory … sometimes i waited in front of a store for almost 1 hour, hoping that siesta was over but store just never opened his doors for me. Not even speaking about restaurants, pharmacies, cafes, etc. – sometimes it feels like they never open. There are restaurants that work only from 12:00 to 13:30, there are those that work 1-2 days a week … the situation is very far from that in Bulgaria, where you can find everything you need even at night.

What would you say to others to motivate them to participate in European Solidarity Corps?

I’m not an influencer to convince people in something that is in my interests, but I would strongly recommend it! The ESC is an unique opportunity, in the most authentic sense of the word “unique”, and provides the knowledge and skills that we will have no way of obtaining in our normal lives. Be brave and get to know the world!