20th March

Ommen, Netherlands

Currently, I am doing a two-month-long European Voluntary Service (EVS) for the organisation Olde Vechte Foundation in the Netherlands, in the small city of Ommen. EVS is intended for the youth, between the ages of 18 and 30 and it is a part of the Erasmus+ programme.

A lot of the projects are intended for the youth with fewer opportunities (social problems, learning difficulties, disabilities, etc.), so I’d recommend it to anyone else with Asperger Syndrome. I have decided for EVS because I had had a strong desire for new experiences and knowledges, hanging out with the peers (that’s mission impossible in Slovenia, for all intents and purposes), but mostly, I wanted to see how good I was at being independent. EVS is a great opportunity to do so. On the weekends I also discover the cities outside of the Netherlands. I spend my free time swimming, driving with the bicycle, taking pictures and hanging out with the peers. I live in the house with three other volunteers. All together there is 30 of us volunteers, 15 out of those 30 are doing the short-term two-month-long EVS. On Wednesdays we have the workshops on the social skills, where we play various games and talk about the week. Currently, I help in the kitchen. It’s super because the chef is vegan, so she knows a lot of vegan and vegetarian recipes that she can share with me and teach me a lot of new stuff. The next week, I will go help in the animal shelter. I am very grateful to be able to be a part of the Erasmus+ projects, because they make me feel like all the other young ones. I have an opportunity to study, test the new knowledges, research, to be a part of the group and to develop. I think it’s great that I’m included in the environment of the peers who are mostly neurotypical and mostly don’t have any particular needs. That way I feel like everyone else and it’s a boost for my self-confidence, so I find it easier to express myself and advance even faster.

I think this is of crucial important for the young adults with Asperger Syndrome, because we’re in the years where we are creating our lives and develop socially; and that doesn’t just go for the young adults, it goes for the neurotypicals just as well. When I finish my EVS, I’ll study for school and finish my exams, continue the non-formal education and trainings, take part in a youth exchange from time to time, continue to be a volunteer and work on my independency, do some sports, art and look for some new people to hang out with.

The Association EPEKA, Soc. Ent., is supported by: