In the EFIL office in Brussels we have, for a long time, been lucky to have absolutely wonderful interns and volunteers working with us. Since the last EFILife came out we had some sad goodbyes and some happy hellos. Read their hellos and goodbyes here.

 Goodbye Hanan

As the plane descended on the runway of the airport, I imagined the words, “Selamat pulang ke tanah air” which is part of the standard greeting wished by Malaysia Airlines to their Malaysian passengers returning home. Although I took another airline back home, the thought of hearing “Welcome back to your homeland” filled my heart with a warm feeling of comfort. Although it is good to be back, I still feel like part of me is left in Brussels.

In the 10 months I spent in Brussels, I have encountered different people, made new friends and established what I hope to be lasting relationships. I have learned, unlearned, re-learned and gained valuable lessons in my professional and personal life. It was a privilege to have contributed and been involved in the PEACE Program. I realised that the implementation of a new exchange programme is a very challenging process and is dependent on collaborations from multiple actors across the AFS network in order to ensure its success. Nevertheless, being part of the PEACE Project along with other EFIL activities has been an enriching experience.

I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone at EFIL who have welcomed me as part of the family. I have learned so much from the strong, brilliant and empathetic staff at EFIL. I will miss the lunch conversations most, although the discussions on some days were more difficult than the rest, it was very meaningful to me.

Terima kasih! Thank you!

Goodbye Alma

My romance with EFIL and the VSS dates back to 2014 in Bosnia, where I was a participant for the first time. There was just something about the magic of this event which fascinated me and I knew that I would want to play a bigger role in building the event in the future. It was my love for the VSS that brought me back to Germany as participant the year after, then Italy and Iceland as prep team member and last September it brought me to Brussels, where I have spent the last year working with the EFIL secretariat on numerous projects including the 11th edition of the VSS which took place in Utoya, Norway, last July.

As some might know there is rarely a dull moment at the EFIL office and I had already before my arrival started preparing a study session which took place in Budapest last October. The event was a great experience and one of my personal highlights of the year where volunteers from like-minded organisations came together to discuss how to enrich our programmes and our work. Other projects I had the opportunity to be a part of during my experience were such as volunteering and spontaneously training at the ECTP, the Training for Trainers, working remotely and in person with the DICE team developing the online course in Intercultural learning for EFIL, several local youth work events around Brussels and many more.

I cherish my memories and friendships from the EFIL office as I head on to my next adventure, a masters at Hult International Business School in San Francisco. In fact, I am writing this very article in the airplane. Brussels will always have a special place in my heart and I encourage everyone who passes by there to find a park around the city to sit down and enjoy life, because that´s what this whole thing is all about.

Thank you EFIL and everybody who had a part in my adventure for my EVS.

See you…(maybe)…in Austria!
Alma Dóra

Goodbye Kat

Goodbye Kat by

Here I am, sitting down and writing the goodbye message with vivid memories of writing my hello just a year ago. Indeed, my 12 months at the EFIL office have ended, and I am passing my desk, slightly-slow computer and the knowledge of the coffee machine onto someone else.

I will always cherish the time I spent within the EFIL walls, no matter how easy or hard it was at times. It was a year of learning, searching, doing, and, most importantly, growing. I took on different roles within various projects, tested my knowledge and skills while building new ones, had quite some sleepless nights, found out the best color-coding techniques, learned to make the perfect cappuccino and tried to not forget about the monthly veggie lunches. I learned to love Brussels with all its quirks and dysfunctional public transport, just like I learned to appreciate sun, rain and the two times it snowed. I also became a bit more of a waffle person and found a new appreciation for good fries, which, I guess, is an essential part of living in Belgium.

EFIL and its people were my home for a while, and, while I have to move on to a different place and make a new home with new memories, the time I spent in Brussels will be a special one for me, and I cannot wait to come back.

Hello Irem

Hello all!

My name is Irem Elvin Unsal. I grew up in Ankara, Turkey. Since my childhood, I was always curious about discovering new places and learning about different cultures. My curiosity created a desire to study abroad and it is how I first met with AFS.

I studied in Denmark for a year and I had an excellent experience. Since then I am an active volunteer and fulltime learner!

I started my EVS at the EFIL office at the beginning of July 2018. During my EVS year, I will be mainly working on European Citizenship Trimester Programme (ECTP) and I will be coordinating communication with participants. Then again, I am sure there will be many interesting projects that I will be taking part in during my year in Brussels.

Besides volunteering one of my hobbies is reading, I like to discover second-hand bookshops and send my friends interesting postcards from places where I visit. I am hoping to bring the habit of sending postcards back! I have many places to explore in this lovely country and with this in mind many postcards to send. However, first things first, I need to find the best fries in Brussels.

A la prochaine!
Irem Elvin

 Hello Nicolas

Salü mitenand! Hello everyone!

My name is Nicolas. I’m 27 years old and I moved from Switzerland to Brussels for my EVS this September.

After 1.5 years of working and volunteering for AFS Switzerland, two amazing VSS’s and a great Megaweeked I finally wanted to experience an exchange of my own.

I just finished my studies in biology and decided, instead of going back to the lab, to broaden my horizon and start working with the wonderful people at EFIL.I already had a very productive prep team meeting for the upcoming ECTP-camp, and the next couple of weeks I will be focusing on the DICE project. A super ambitious but equally great project where we intend to convey and develop intercultural competences though e-learning. Those are just a small peek into all the exciting projects I can contribute during my time at EFIL.

Oh, and before I forget, VSS is coming and I will hopefully meet some of you in Austria next summer.