05 Mai

Youth fosters intercultural dialogue in Saintes

„Youth fosters intercultural dialogue in Saintes“ ist ein EFD-Projekt im französischen Saintes. Das liegt nördlich von Bordeaux. Unsere Freiwillige Ivana spricht nicht so gut Deutsch und hat ihren Bericht auf Englisch verfasst. Sie hat ein wirklich exzellentes Projekt erwischt: Sie arbeitet in einem ehemaligen Benediktiner-Kloster, das jetzt neue Funktionen hat – u.a. ein Zentrum für klassische Musik ist. Aber lest selbst:

The beginning of May marks the beginning of my seventh month in France. Time flies at an extraordinary speed. I am more than half way through my EVS at Abbaye aux Dames, la cite musicale in Saintes. And what an extraordinary journey it has been!

It all started in November 2016. Shortly after my arrival in Charente Maritime, I was thrown right into the rich cultural life of the former Benedictine abbey, now a heritage site, a hotel, a music school and, above all, a centre of classical music with an annual summer festival and numerous other musical activities. During my first weeks at Saintes, I was busy getting to know my French colleagues and finding my way around the beautiful historical site, while I also got acquainted with the European projects that make up the basis of my EVS missions.

One of the main tasks of my EVS is to collect documentation from the young musicians, who attend training courses of in classical music as part of the Jeune Orchestre de l’Abbaye and who are eligible for funding from the European Social Fund. Moreover, I help out with the planning and organisation of adult learning mobilities abroad as part of the Erasmus+ project Heritage Interpretation and Innovative practices for my colleagues from the abbey and our project partners. In addition, twice a week I also help out at the Abboutique shop of the abbey, welcoming visitors, presenting the new 3D musical tour MUSICAVENTURE, selling concert tickets, books, CDs and other souvenirs.

Although my EVS takes place in a relatively small and tranquil town, I have led a surprisingly nomadic lifestyle ever since my arrival. In November, my first venture out of Charente Maritime was to attend an EVS induction seminar at Chambon, where I not only had the chance to learn more about the EVS programme, but also to meet fellow volunteers from 12 different European countries who are completing various missions in all corners of France. In December, I attended my first Erasmus+ mobility abroad, joining my colleagues from the abbey on a training course in Brussels on the topic of approaches to classical music from a non-professional point of view. This year, it has been my turn, with the much-needed help of my tutor, to concoct mobilities abroad for my colleagues and our project partners. In March, I took two groups to Edinburgh – the first one to observe heritage management and interpretation practices in Scotland, the second one to attend training on innovative approaches to guided visits in the Scottish capital. Our next destination is Pilsen in the Czech Republic where, in May, we will examine the impact of the European Capital of Culture 2015 project on tourism and the cultural life in the city.

So far, my EVS has been an incredibly enriching experience. I feel very privileged to be able to work in such a cultural hub as the Abbaye aux Dames, while having the chance to travel around Europe and to learn about innovative practices in heritage interpretation and cultural management. Every day, I gain useful experience, broadening my administrative and organisational skills, and building a network of professional contacts. Moreover, I continue improving my language and communication skills through translating and juggling different languages on a daily basis.

I fully intend to make the most out of the remaining five months in Saintes at the Abbaye aux Dames. After all, there is still so much for me to do – to see, to experience, to learn and to keep broadening my personal and professional horizons.