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Saturday, 02 June 2012 09:05

Living the European Dream

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Like many young Europeans, I have dreams and hopes for Europe - I want it to be a place of cultural and political awareness; a place where people from all walks of life and backgrounds can come together and feel like they belong; a place where our ambition and determination know no boundaries.

But also like many young Europeans, who are much more fortunate than our previous generations, I found myself completely lost and uncertain of what my path would be after graduating from university. How can I, a heavily-in-debt university graduate, keep up the voyage of European learning while avoiding being evicted or - maybe worse - moving back in with my parents (although mine are thousands of miles away on another continent)?

Then an opportunity opened up – last year I was accepted onto the European Voluntary Service (EVS) scheme to work on E&M

"Voluntary, did you say?" you might ask. Oh yes, my friends, but not only are living expenses compensated and language training provided, the work involved is way more mind-blowing than the many unpaid internships or coffee-making "traineeships" we have all applied for. I have had the chance to tailor my experience to be as European and as meaningful as I want.

For the past eight months, I not only travelled to various parts of Europe, including Vilnius, Hungary, Bonn and Köln among many others with E&M's partner organisations to learn about active citizenship or voluntarism, I have met with foreign ministers from Germany, Poland and Greece and represented more than 6,500 young European voices at the first Berlin Foreign Policy Forum in Berlin, where we discussed Europe's foreign policy. Having been trained as a journalist, I gained experience in live reporting, and found that assisting renowned journalists in big events is the most rewarding aspect.

But it is not all about glamour or free backpacking - it is hard work to bring young people together, for instance in our training workshop, when I was entrusted with the job of main organiser. From finding venues to discussing workshop methodologies, I have learned, and kept on learning! The creativity and commitment required, and probably my dreadful perfectionism, have motivated me to explore and push my limits. And I pushed like there was no tomorrow.

In one month, my EVS time in Berlin is going to end. Sitting down to write this article, I realise how much I have to be thankful for. I gained much more practical experience than I have ever imagined; I saw much more of the world than I expected and I understand Europe in the most down-to-earth way possible. I didn't work in Brussels and make proposals. Instead, I worked with young people from all over Europe, who have a never-ceasing passion to make the most out of their lives and to fulfil our utmost potential to play an active part in our European future. I had the time of my life.

Decision-making is a pain in the neck; making that decision to commit myself to be a full-time volunteer of E&M, move to Berlin from London and start everything again was not easy - it was even scary. But I always ask myself when facing a tough decision: "What would I choose if I were to die tomorrow and this is the last decision I am going to make?"

I would have made this decision a thousand times.

If you think you might be interested in doing an EVS or would like to find out more please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and we can give you some expert, first hand advice! 

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 13:00

Comments   

#3 Chrisq 2012-06-21 07:41
Hey Carmen!

What an amazing and touching post. Thanks so much for all your time, effort and enthusiasm you put and keep putting into E&M.

All the best for your future,

Chris
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#2 Carmen 2012-06-05 13:04
Thank you so much Ziemowit!!! It's actually me who has to say thank you! I have learned so much from all of you and your enthusiasm! :)
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#1 Ziemowit 2012-06-02 19:54
as one of those "young people from all over Europe" I'd like to say - thanks Carmen. it's always a privilege to work with you
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