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Tu es différent de moi, donc tu m'enrichis
Start date: 01 Aug 2016, End date: 31 Oct 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

« You are different from me, therefore you make me richer » is the title that we have chosen for the long-term European Voluntary Service project. But it’s not just the title ; it’s the mainstay, the basis of the project in real terms. We are going to host nine young people from five different countries, in seven local projects, two different types of service-users surrounded by staff from all different backgrounds, Flemish, Walloons, immigrants, cultured people, marginalised people, young, old, believers, humanists ... Vive la différence ! This title is, in fact, a paraphrase of a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry : “In my civilisation, he who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me”. His book speaks of, among other things, the author’s search for meaning and truth. How apt for our project ! Here in SPJ, we know how volunteering changes lives. It changes the lives of the volunteers, but also the lives of those who are affected by the service of these young people who devote a year of their lives to others. Another quote of Saint-Exupéry’s – It’s the time you waste on your rose that makes your rose important – expresses this sentiment so well.When you add to the mixture this unique multicultural cocktail, you can only begin to imagine the experiences to be had during an EVS. Each person carries their culture on their back, on their face even, he can’t go anywhere without it. Because of that, each volunteer, each child, each disabled person, each team member automatically shares his own with the person in front of him. The EVS indeed allows one to immerge oneself in another culture, even several other cultures, for a relatively long time. It’s not the same as going on holiday or on a multi-lateral exchange. It’s living right in it. It’s a daily discovery. Customs, or even just habits ; cooking ; how to people greet each other ; how fragile people are looked after ; the language and dialects ; politics ; local festivities, not only in Belgium but in the home countries of all the volunteers coordinated and supervised by the SPJ. We always try our best to host young folk from as many different countries as possible in order to make the brew richer. But why does all this make us richer ? Many people before us have said it better, but, in practice, every year at the end of their service, we see youngsters who have broadened their horizons and their minds. Who have questioned stereotypes about others, but also about their own country or region. Who have learnt to live with someone who sees things differently and who has survived. Who have known the frustration of not being able to communicate and, sometimes, have felt stupid. Who have had to live with not much money and, generally speaking, have had to suffer the consequences of their own actions. These are, among other things, part of the richness brought by him who is different from me.N.B. The annexed project descriptions are only as a guide. The timetables and activities will be agreed according to the desiderata and the volunteers’ specific skills.In each project, the volunteers will begin their service with a period of getting to know the institution and its characteristics. Only after this time will the tasks and specific timetables be arranged.In the children’s homes, the volunteers will support the team in the everyday supervision of the children – i.e. accompanying the children in a “normal” way : a healthy lifestyle, fundamental need... However, the volunteer can also bring a personal through extra activities such as games, crafts, outings, going with the children to sports clubs and Scouts, etc. He or she can also share the habits and customs of their country as well as their family culture, while inviting the children to think about their own. With the disabled adults, there is also the aspect of everyday supervision, in the living communities, but also in the workshops where the people go every day to work (leather, wrought iron, cheese-making, farms, mosaic...). The interaction with the disabled people can be very rich and varies according to their level of independence.The volunteers will also have the chance to reflect on what they are learning and on their experiences as a young European volunteer, with professionals from the same fields, during the SPJ seminars and numerous evaluations in the local projects. The methodology of evaluation and training is part of the methods used in non-formal education. They will also have the possibility to discuss things with other volunteers in the same situation as them during the training sessions organised by the coordinating organisation (SPJ) and those organised by the National Agnecy (BIJ).The results, the impact and the longer-term benefits of this project fit with each other :- Reinforcement of engagement in society- A new language- Intercultural learning- Greater maturity- Help with professional orientation- Teamwork- Patience respect and compassion.
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