Three weeks to leave their comfort zone: Welcome to our new Belgian volunteers

Three weeks to leave their comfort zone: Welcome to our new Belgian volunteers

It all started with flight cancellation due to an unexpected technical problem, but they are finally with us! Four young and curious volunteers from Belgium joined our VCS Family on the 17th of June. In the next three weeks Volunteers Centre Skopje will host Alex, Ine, Ishak and Mohamed. They will have the opportunity to become journalists and graphic designers for “VOICES” magazine. Also they will help out with activities in “Daycare Centre for street children”. Let’s get to know our newest team members:

Ine, 21 years old

My name is Ine, I’m 21 years old and I live in Leuven. I will be studying sociology and political sciences at “KULeuven” in the next few years. My interests are Japanese and Korean, singing, fashion, drawing, reading and gaming. I see myself as an artistic and curious person.

Last year with the pandemic going on, I had a lot of time to think about my goals and my dreams. I realized that I wanted to travel and to learn about other cultures, to grow as a person and to broaden my view. That is also the reason I’m currently here in Skopje, Macedonia. It’s my first time abroad and after a few days I am convinced: I couldn’t have chosen a better place to start my journey than here at VCS.

When I first heard about the project I was really excited but also a little scared, a whole new environment with people I don’t know and doing things I’ve never done before. But I managed to put my fear aside, because I don’t want it to get in the way of this experience.

During my three weeks stay here, I hope to learn plenty of new things, to leave my comfort zone and to meet many new people and hear their stories.

Ishak, 21 years old

Hallo, my name is Ishak, I’m 21 years old and I live in Antwerp (Belgium) but my roots are Moroccan. Last year I graduated in “Machine Tools”. The name of my school is “Don Bosco” and I have an A2 diploma of “Machine Tools”.

I came to this project through a youth center and this is my second experience with an international project. My first one was a project in Slovakia for two weeks and by the things I did and saw I can surely tell that Macedonia fits me better than Slovakia. Not only the project is greater than I’ve expected but the people are more friendly and more helpful than I thought. I could choose between three projects and when I knew what projects I could chose I did some serious research about the project and the country and I can tell that Macedonia appealed to me the most.  We also talked about those three projects with my youth workers and they also recommended me to take this project because you have to work with little children and I am doing the same thing in my home country as a volunteer.  From the moment I heard about this chance I did some research about the country and the culture and what I experienced in the last days is so much better than what I read on the internet. I hope the other days will be as great as the first days and that I will learn more about the Macedonian culture.

Mohamed, 21 years old

Goeiemiddag, my name is Mohamed and I am 21 years old, and at the moment I am enjoying the hot sun while writing this. I was born and raised in the city of Antwerp in Belgium but my roots are Moroccan. I am currently studying “Office Management” at the “ArtetisPlantijn College” in Antwerp.

I am already enjoying my fifth day in Skopje and I can tell time is going by faster than the wind. I would never have expected that I would be in Macedonia for a project with VCS that takes three weeks. If someone told me this a couple of months earlier I would’ve told them that they are out of their minds. Since the day I have arrived I’ve only met great people so far. The people of the project have been so good and helpful with me. The reason why I took this project is because one of the social workers in my hometown motivated me to take this chance. At first I was not very excited when they brought it up but once they told me more about the project and the country, I couldn’t wait to leave Belgium and get here!

This is my first volunteering project, I’ve never been on one before. My parents were quite anxious about this when I told them, not only because I will be staying in a different country but also that I will be gone for about three weeks and as you can know that is a very long time for a parent. But we kept in touch since the day I got here and I hope that my next two weeks will be as great as the first day in this place.

Alex, 21 years old

Hallo, my name is Alex, I am a 21 year old from Belgium.

I used to live in a small village but at the age of 17 I started living on my own in the big student city called Leuven. Last year I started my first year of studying orthopedagogy. I believe the well-being of people is essential and I want to help as much as I can.

That is why I decided to follow a course in youth counseling, where I was taught different tools to help young people in my area or to refer them to places where they can get the right help. I am also an ambassador for a youth organization and I followed a course in buddy work. For me, it is important that everyone can be themselves and that there is not too much of a taboo on certain subjects but that everything can be discussed.

Besides my studies I am also someone who is very adventurous and curious. I love exploring unknown places, playing sports, having fun with family and friends and listening to good music. When I heard that I could go to Macedonia as a volunteer I was extremely happy and a little scared. I was scared because it would be my first time volunteering abroad and for 3 weeks. But despite the healthy fear, I was also incredibly excited about it. A great adventure was waiting for me.

While I am writing this, it is my fourth day in Macedonia. The past few days have all been quite different from each other but they have flown by. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here and trying as hard as I can to enjoy and learn from the experience and the other people I get to know here.

I can now cross something off my bucket list again.