Labas, my name is Mara Cremann, I am 19 years old and I am from Germany.
I was volunteering for six months in Telšiai, a small town in Lithuania in the youth center and I really enjoyed it.
I was searching on the Internet for many places to make a volunteer service but as I only had time for six months, it was really hard to find a project. I asked my sending organization for help and they gave me the number of Saulena, the leader of the youth center and this project in Telšiai. We had long conversations on the phone and we understood each other very well but she needed somebody for a longer time, so I ended up with the idea of doing a volunteer service. After a few months in December 2017 I got a message from her on Facebook and she asked me if I was still interested in doing this project because the other person that must have come disappeared and didn’t answer anymore. Therefore, I made a fast decision to get new experiences in a country I had never thought before and I didn’t know anything about it.
I came here in January while it was starting to get very cold and I am going home back at the beginning of August while it is very hot. The temperature had a difference from -28 degrees in winter to +35 degrees in summer this year. But I enjoyed both sides of this weather at its best, e.g. skiing in winter and swimming in the lakes in summer.
My start here was quite nice because I had a German flat mate who showed me some things at the beginning but later I made my own way. I got to know the youth in the youth center and although I didn’t understand a word, with help of facial expressions and gesturing I made some friendships. In winter it was quite easy because the youth used the youth center as a hideaway of the cold weather, so there were about 15-20 young people between 14-29 years old and everybody with his own story. But in summer the youth center was empty. They were hanging around the lake or working a summer job, so for me it was boring because I had nothing to do.
After two weeks of being here I had my on-arrival training and I fully enjoyed it because I met a lot of very nice people and had a useful program about the EVS (European volunteer service) there. The “problem” was that all the people there came from Vilnius, so I just had the connection to volunteers from the capital and had an opportunity after training to go to one of the volunteers in Vilnius. I got to know a bigger community and after a few weeks and months the community was growing and growing because of travelling, going to the parties and meeting friends of the volunteers. I have never met so many nice people that are good friends for me now in such a short time and I am really thankful for this.
As Telšiai is a small town, I spent my weekends most of the time in bigger cities to meet my friends and to travel around. During the week I was working in the youth center, joining the volleyball team of the gymnasium, doing yoga in a Lithuanian group with a Lithuanian teacher, playing basketball till the late evening with my youth and of course doing the household chores.
In February my Lithuanian course started and lasted for four months twice a week. I already knew some words from my youth but to learn the language with grammatical stuff, the tenses, building up the vocabulary, forming the sentences and getting knowledge was a hard way and not completely successful. But I quite fast caught the topic people were talking about and I was able to develop the context to that.
Even without knowing the language well, I got to know a lot of Lithuanian people. I joined four camps from the youth center where I found out a lot about the Lithuanian culture and where I also learned to step out of my comfort zone while talking with new people, joining a ropes course and doing energizer games with the group.
I gained a lot of new experiences and I had to take a lot of challenges but with help of my totally friendly and lovely colleagues and friends I made my way through it. I think I could not have found a better place to do my volunteer service. I spent several months somewhere where not many people had been travelling before. But I can really recommend to travelers to put this country on their travel list. Lithuania with just 3 million inhabitants is a very small country but every Lithuanian is proud to live here. They fought a lot for their independence and they are doing everything to keep this. I took part in the celebration of the centenary of Lithuania in Vilnius and I felt the pride in Lithuanians’ voices while singing all together and as I know every quarter of the year they all stand up and sing their anthem. You have to see this with your own eyes and feel this with your whole body.
I showed my guests (family and friends from home) the things that made Lithuania special for me. A lot of beautiful nature, nice places to stay; the places I was feeling like at home (my working place, my flat, my living town, the town where my volunteer friends lived) and of course lovely people that were around me all my EVS.
I learned a lot about myself, I grew up personally and I made invaluable experience in a foreign country, which will be of great importance starting my working career.
Thanks to all the people that supported me these six months, let me feel comfortable and get the experience very important to me.