Appreciating Norway: My time as European Volunteer Service (EVS) participant for one year in Trondheim
Posted by African Press International on September 15, 2012
This is my Story in my own words: I am the second on the photo from the left. The other three were also volunteers the same time as me – at the same place. It was a good experience.
If I would say that I feel as the happiest person in the world, I wouldn’t be lying.The past year has been the best year of my life (so far :) and I have to thank Trondheim commune, Mr. Hasan Ajanadzic, and all the wonderful people who I have been working with for all the great experiences I gained.
My name is Dijana Odobasic and I was born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have never left my home country for more than 15 day at a time, but it all changed on my 19th birthday when I signed up for European Volunteer Service (EVS) year-long volunteering project in Trondheim, Norway.
When I arrived to Norway, everything was new to me, including the language. Thus, for the first couple of months my focus was to learn Norwegian and bound with people who surrounded me. At the same time, I was assisting teachers who taught Norwegian to asylum seekers in Grandschool in Flatåsen. My main role at the beginning was to learn the language, bound with the group and help those who needed assistance. I was blessed to be part of that diverse group of people. Each one of them inspired me to enjoy life more and to be grateful for everything I have. We did not spend all the time in the classroom; we also went on hiking trips and sightseeing tours.
Every Friday I would work in canteen, either making or selling food. I never imagined myself as a person who would like to be at the counter, standing on foot and selling food for couple of hours. However, Fridays in canteen ended up being highlights of my week. Students from the school would come up to me not just for food, but for a conversation. They would ask me questions and I would ask them – that gave us both an opportunity to met and learn about each other’s lives and cultures.
After I improved my Norwegian, I was ready to help students who were about to start a high school with their school work. This was not an ordinary school, but a school that gave an opportunity to young people who recently received Norwegian citizenship (or are on their way of receiving it), to get better education and improve language skills. Another mission of the school was to help with resolving cultural differences. Seeing all those young boys and girls who have suffer a lot in the past and who came to the new country with a hope for the best, after leaving family and everything familiar and steeping in unknown with smiles on their faces, was a life-changing moment for me. You get a great respect for them.
Working with these young people on their Math or English homework was very nice, too. It gave me the opportunity to meet one of the most important persons in my life, my friend Suldaano from Somalia. She is the strong girl; she experienced that what even the brave would fear, but she was still the most fascinating positive-thinker I ever met. She gave me force in days when I would miss my country, family and friends. I helped her with her English and she helped me with my Norwegian and so much more. She taught why the Trondheim commune’s project was needed.
I was surrounded by the strong people from the countries wounded by wars, economic crises or intolerance, who were given another chance in life. These people were able to build new lives thanks to the help and support from the individuals who care about others and who give years of their lives without asking anything in return. These everyday heroes whom I came across in Norway inspired me and helped me to evolve as a person.
My experience of working in the Trondheim commune have taught me to appreciate life and enjoy in every day occasions; thus, I sign up to volunteer in realization of school theater show Aladdin with Ms. Marit Selfjord. Working hand in hand with that amazing women and students-actors coming from al around the world, we managed to create a play that made the whole school and the Trondheim commune proud. It wasn’t easy to get people with different heritage to make one show that will be remembered long after the curtains fall down. The process of creation of the show brought together groups of people who would probably never bound otherwise. Over a months’ long process we all learned from each other and strong friendships have been formed.
My mentor, Mr. Per Erling Tilset Larsen, was a big support during the whole time I was in Norway. He would take me to doctors when I was ill; he would answer thousands of questions that I had every day. He also have taken care about logistics of the whole project.
The year in which I was working with people from Africa, Asia and more, was the best year of my life. I would be the happiest person if I would get again that feeling that I had while volunteering in Norway. For everyone who is reading this article, you need to know that anything good you do for someone will mean a lot to that person – so, give a smile, support, and a helping hand to someone, because you never now how much spiritually richer person you will become.
Thanks to all Eritrean, Somali, Ethiopian, Kurdistan, Indian and other families that gave me company, took me to their own country’s celebrations, and made me those lovely spicy meals. Special thanks go to family Karadza that was there for me from the day one, and to my guardian angel, Jan Mohammad.
My stay and work in Trondheim was a challenge as I was involved in many different social activities, and the school curriculum. Herebelow are some photos showing my engangement:
In the phtos below, Iam involved in different activities such as School ball where I helped with organisation and preparation, at the theatre acting in a play, at times helping with renovation, making the costumes for theater, and taking time off – Free time at Flatanger to relax and enjoy the nature.
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Photo nr 6. Enjoying the natural beauty of the country.
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