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Volunteer blog: Juan Roch Gonzalez, EVS volunteer

6 February 2013

JuanJuan Roch Gonzalez came to Pestalozzi as a European Voluntary Service (EVS) volunteer in 2012. His main role at Pestalozzi is to help students learn Spanish, but he is involved in many other activities besides. He spoke to Jonathan Williams, Pestalozzi’s Marketing Officer, about his experience.

What drew you to EVS as a volunteering option, and why were you interested in Pestalozzi?

I heard about the EVS because one of my friends was involved in an EVS project in Latvia. All that he told me sounded amazing and so interesting. I always wanted to travel abroad, and learn other languages and know other cultures, but the EVS is something more. It offers the opportunity to take part in a project to improve the world and exchange knowledge and experiences with a wide variety of different people. This was the aspect that most inspired me to do the EVS. More specifically, I was interested in Pestalozzi's educational philosophy and the chance to take part in a training project with young people from very different cultural backgrounds.

Juan with Pestalozzi students in the snow

And what were you doing before you came to Pestalozzi?

I am from Spain, more specifically from Madrid. I was working and finishing my degree in Sociology before coming here. Previously I worked as postman, because at that time it was better suited to my needs, but before that I had worked as a researcher, analysing statistics data, and other jobs.

I know your main role here is as a Spanish tutor, but you live on-site and volunteer full time, so what else are you involved with?

We have a music band with which we practice on Fridays, and we are going to play at several events. I have always been passionate about music, and it is one of the activities I most enjoy doing with the students. They are eager to learn and create new things and we really have a great time unleashing our musical creativity.

I have also organized a football tournament on the weekend where the students interact, have fun, and do some exercise. Moreover, I assist at some events, such as the cultural evenings and outings organized by Pestalozzi, for instance, going to London to attend London International Model United Nations and other conferences.

Juan playing football with Pestalozzi students

You sound busy...

Yes! I will describe a typical day here at Pestalozzi: I get up early, at 6:30, to have enough time to take the bus at 8am. I attend English classes twice a week in the morning until 12:45pm. Then I wait to get the bus back to Pestalozzi at 2:35pm. The days that I have English class I have to eat at college or at home when I arrive, about 3:15pm. About 3:30pm or 4pm I go to the office to prepare Spanish classes or do other tasks. I'm working until 6:15 pm, which is when I go to dinner. The Spanish classes start at 7:30pm and last until 9:30pm. Sometimes after that I run a tutoring class with some students who need to work on some particular aspect or have doubts and questions. If all goes well, I am usually in my house by 10pm. I must say that not all days are like that – only twice a week. Other days are much more relaxed.

Have you done any other training since you’ve been here?

In the EVS you should do three volunteer training sessions. I have already done one, in October, and I am going to do the next in March. These are really interesting events in which you can learn a lot of things and make friends who are in similar situations to yours.

Juan and the Pestalozzi Pirates
Would you recommend other people volunteer through EVS or at Pestalozzi?

Yes, I think it is a very rewarding experience, and you can learn a lot personally and professionally. I would make two suggestions: You have to know that you like volunteer work, and you have to know you will fit in the type of project you choose – both for yourself and for the people who will depend on your work.

Regarding Pestalozzi, is exciting to take part in this project, although you must be a quiet person, like nature, and be patient waiting for the bus, and sometimes paying for a taxi! I think the most important thing you can learn about Pestalozzi students is to value the hope and enthusiastic attitude they display in their daily routine, to achieve their dreams.

Get involved! Find out about how you can volunteer at Pestalozzi.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Union. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of information contained therein.

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