My story started in 2012 in Varsány, which is a little village in North Hungary. I wanted to study abroad when I was in high school. I felt I had to go somewhere to explore new views and lifestyles. I have always been interested in different cultures. I had started looking for new opportunities and then I found AFS.

I lived in Italy, in Bari. I choose a trimester program and at the end of this program I went to ECTP camp (European Citizenship Trimester Programme) in Brussels. We were the third generation in this project. Here, for the first time in my life, I was introduced to intercultural learning and learned more about myself. I started to realise how I can live, and to understand how my body, my thoughts and my emotions reacted to external indicators. When I went back to Hungary, my family and I hosted an exchange student from Turkey. She showed me different views again. I realised her beliefs, norms, attitudes and  social rules.

After this, my university years arrived. I moved to Budapest where I started volunteering for AFS again. I studied Human Resource Management and my main focus was on the topic of motivation. In my opinion this is an interesting questions:  how can we motivate people from different cultures and how we can work together in respect and peace. This thought motivated to me to become a trainer in AFS Hungary. This matched with my skills. I finished my studies and I wanted to work on organisational development but I had not seen opportunities on working in this area.

Later I received an email from the AFS office that the Eramsus+ program opened this project and if I would like, I could apply. The project was a one year long volunteer position at the AFS Iceland office supported by the European Voluntary Service programme of the Erasmus+. They said they could support me because they knew it is important for me and this position matched with my personals skills and interests. I tried to do my best and I got this volunteer position. Lots of people ask me why I came to Iceland, because it is so cold and dark. I chose the position and Iceland chose me. After  a lot of contemplation I am here and I am happy to be working with you.

My project tasks focuses on intercultural learning and volunteer development. I have already started to work with the volunteers. We have created our own strategy and targets. My cultural attitudes are different from yours and it will be a challenge for me. I have to be flexible and patient, but that is okey. I am here and I will support you to dream big. I know after this experience I will have greater knowledge from another culture and about me. Thank you for your attention, I was Szilvia, „the new Gabriel“.

Text by: Szilvia Szeles, EVS volunteer