My special opportunity

Everyone asks me, why Finland? We have always dreamed of being in paradise, in some remote place, full of palm trees, white sand beaches, and crystal clear waters. But there is a paradise much closer and with a totally different landscape!

This is Finland, a magical country that has two faces: depending on the time of the year, its landscape changes radically, that makes it special. In the winter everything is covered by snow, the lakes are completely frozen and the cold takes over the environment, the skis are your best friend. In the summer, it becomes a landscape full of forests where the strong green of the trees contrasts with the brown of its trunks, where the lakes emanate large amounts of water and the light takes over the country.

Arts & crafts at Kisälli

During this year, I have worked in Vihti municipality in an organization called Kisälli-Harjulanmäki with people with special educational needs – who I call people with a different gift. The solitary talks and the silence together make this place of work special, we all form a small-big family.

“Volunteering is the best choice I have made. I stepped out of the comfort zone, the life crossed my way with this choice, and I decided to say yes.”

This family is formed by ten creative people who do their best in arts & crafts and four supporters. Even though they are the ones that I have to support, many times they are the ones supporting me. Sometimes they think outside the box and it makes them unique, for example when they combine two completely opposite colors and the result is crazy and funny. In Kisälli there is a daily routine, but at the same time we have freedom to change the way we do it. The creative people of Kisälli know their tasks and they are happy and confident because of that.

Kisälli is not only a workplace, we do a multitude of activities together (going to museums, galleries, and forest excursions, having picnics, meeting together) with a single purpose, being part and parcel of society.

Each one of the people in Kisälli-Harjulanmäki gives me a reason to smile in different situations. They give me much more than I could have imagined, and that is when I start thinking about how lucky I am to have them in my day to day life. They are the ones who have made this year an unforgettable one, during which I have learned many things.

Out of the comfort zone

Volunteering is the best choice I have made. I stepped out of the comfort zone, the life crossed my way with this choice, and I decided to say yes. In the beginning I was a little bit afraid to go to an unknown dark-cold-wet-place far far away, or that is the stereotype of Finland… but after living here for a year, I have gotten used to what Finland gives me, and sometimes the stereotype does not apply. I encourage everyone to be brave and not waste the opportunities life offers you, because the big risks give you bigger satisfaction.

“During this year in every place I have stepped in, I have found something unique. I think this is because my perspective on life has changed. I see the world with eyes of another culture.”

I feel, that this experience has changed me a lot, but at the same time I feel that I have stayed the same I always was. I am one of those restless people. During this year in every place I have stepped in, I have found something unique. I think this is because my perspective on life has changed. I see the world with eyes of another culture. One sees it, if one puts behind ones fears. This special way to see the world can only take place when you are out of your comfort zone and you start to write your own story.

This is my place and for the moment I stay, in a country in which you are amazed by the immensity of the landscapes, where the seas are not waves but trees, where the sand is changed by snow and where the seasons are completely unique.

Carmen Cobos
EVS volunteer in Kisälli-Harjulanmäki in the season 2017–18

Carmen participated in Finland in the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Maailmanvaihto receives EVS (nowaways Erasmus+ Volunteering Activities) volunteers for volunteer periods of 6–12 months. Would you be interested in participating? Read more and apply!