Meet Kristine, an ESC volunteer who made a lasting impact at “Valdofian” Kindergarten in Lithuania. Over 12 months, she brought creativity, dedication, and innovative ideas to enrich the lives of young learners. Kristine’s story showcases the transformative power of volunteering and her commitment to creating a brighter future for her community.

My volunteer story

Commencing a narrative is often a challenging endeavor. For me, the genesis of my journey can be traced back to a significant shift in my value system. The realization dawned upon me that my pursuit of financial gain, despite my profound affection for my profession as a psychologist, left me yearning for something more profound and transformative. My name is Kristina, and I am a psychologist. Following my university graduation, I dedicated two years to practicing psychology. It was during this period that I decided to diversify my skill set by delving into Human Resource Management, a field closely intertwined with my initial profession. As I embarked on my initial steps in the realm of HR, serendipity brought a volunteer program into my sphere, a program that resonated with my deepest aspirations. To comprehend the scope of my dreams, allow me to elucidate. My enduring dream had always been to relocate to a quaint European town for a year, establishing my own abode and engaging in volunteer work. When I first perused the details of the volunteer program, I applied without hesitation, as Trakai, the city where the program was based, embodied the essence of my dreams. My application, however, receded into the recesses of my memory for a considerable time. It was only after three months that I received an unexpected invitation for an interview. The prospect of an interview conducted in English, a language I was not entirely fluent in, filled me with trepidation. Nevertheless, being someone who seizes opportunities, I assented to the interview and diligently prepared a self-introduction in English. The interview transpired successfully, and within a week, I received word of my acceptance, awaiting only my final decision. Subsequent to this letter, my life underwent a profound transformation, as I confronted a momentous choice: to forsake my nascent career and embark on a journey to volunteer in the city of my dreams, engaging in my beloved vocation. My intention was resolute.

I dedicated a year of my life to volunteering at the Valdofian Kindergarten in Trakai. Trakai was a city infused with an enchanting aura, where I found solace, tranquility permeating my thoughts and body. I was in perfect harmony with my surroundings. The city was adorned with a sprawling lake, and the omnipresent beauty of nature imbued every corner. It was undeniably the most enchanting year of my life, during which I traversed nine countries, immersing myself in diverse cultures and forging bonds with fellow volunteers from across the globe. We (with volunteers) convened for two training sessions throughout the year, dedicating a week each time to discussions on pivotal topics. We evolved into a close-knit family, and bidding farewell after these trainings proved to be an arduous task. However, our connection endured throughout the year. I relished my role in aiding kindergarten staff and children alike. Over the course of that year, I fostered deep connections with the parents of the children attending the kindergarten, connections that persist to this day. I took the opportunity to introduce my Lithuanian students to Armenia, sharing our culture and forging a promise that they would visit my homeland in the future. Allow me to briefly touch upon the challenges I encountered during this transformative year. Firstly, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my sending organization, as they stood unwaveringly by my side, offering assistance with any query or concern that arose. Initially, reality did not align with my dreams and expectations. Upon relocating to Trakai, I found myself alone, both in the city and in my new home, engulfed by feelings of loneliness and melancholy. However, my sending organization played a pivotal role in aiding my adaptation. In the initial ten days, thoughts of returning to Armenia plagued my mind, yet one of the most pivotal decisions of my life was to surmount these emotional hurdles and adapt to my newfound circumstances. Within a month, I had successfully acclimated, and I couldn’t envision my life taking any other path. Throughout the year, my sole preoccupation revolved around my next travel destination. I underwent significant personal growth, gaining a deeper understanding of myself and honing my proficiency in the English language. I am immensely grateful for having been chosen as a volunteer, as this transformative year ushered in profound changes, undoubtedly for the better.