Our First Volunteer

Janko from Slovakia has joined our team in the e.p.a. office for one year as a volunteer through the European Solidarity Corps.


We are very happy for his support and looking forward to playing and working with him in the next months.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Janko!

My name is Jan, but people usually call me Janko. I am from Slovakia, from a little village with less than 1000 inhabitants. When I was very young, growing up in my village, my mum asked me what I would like to do when I will grew older and I answered “I want to be a cosmonaut”.

How did you get the idea to do volunteer work after studies?

After finishing my degree I had an idea to do something different from what people usually do when they finish their bachelor. At first I did not know what that could be. I just joined the programme “The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award” and one of the tasks was to do volunteering in one organisation. I chose Ulita in Bratislava, which helps people with social difficulties and they offered me to go to an international exchange in Portugal, organized by e.p.a. and other organisations. In Portugal I was thinking that it would be nice to do the work that e.p.a. does, but I did not tell this to anybody.

How did you find out about the European Solidarity Corps?

Some weeks after exchange, Dominika from Ulita sent me an e-mail that e.p.a. is looking for a volunteer and then everything went very fast. They answered my questions, I answered their questions and we agreed on the term. They also sent me a link for ESC, where I had to register in the database. The ESC agreement is between 3 sides – receiving organisation (epa), volunteer (me) and sending organisation. The e.p.a. sent me a list of organisations in Slovakia, I have chosen the European Dialogue, which was willing to support me and that was it, actually.

What is the main topic and what are your tasks during the ESC? And why did you choose e.p.a.?

During high school I participated in some projects in Slovakia, where people try to offer alternative education through workshops and weekend seminars and I really liked it. I wanted to do something similar and as epa does this all around the world, I have chosen e.p.a. e.p.a. also creates opportunities for people with less opportunities and it is also the idea that I really like. And now I am working on projects, reports and trying to help however I can.

The thing what I really like in the ESC programme is that your organisation has to support you and provide you with accomodation, mentor, language course, possibilities to socialize, it is in the agreement. 

At the beginning how did you get over the arrival in Hamburg?

Interesting fact is that in less than 3 months I have met people from about 30 different countries.. Can not wait what it will be in one year… And I also would like to share that nowadays it is very easy to go to Hamburg or in general to travel around the world. But 30 years ago, especially in Eastern Europe, where I come from, it was not so easy, my parents and grandparents could not just go to Hamburg or anywhere in the West, because of communism. We should take this advantage and see how it all works in different cultures and try to make our home country better.

What would you advise to the others who want to become a volunteer?

Before my voluntary service I heard so much about volunteering and how great it is, but now I can say it is much more better than I expected or heard about. I would advise other people to choose organization and a field of work where they can grow, learn and do what they like. And also not to be afraid to say their requirements, what they want to do and also it is very important to read and to know the agreement, rights and responsibilities.

At the end I want to speak fluent German, to know about organising and writing EU projects, about functioning of international organization, which cooperates with more than 40 countries.

Thank you, Janko!


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