Volunteer Exchange to Latvia

As part of our recent Active Senior’s Project, participants were given the chance to volunteer in Europe.

In June, Kevin, one of the participants was given the opportunity to volunteer in Latvia for two weeks.  He wrote this account of his ‘adventure’.Kevin in Latvia with group of children

We were met at Riga Airport, and driven to Gulbene, which is in North East Latvia.   Once we arrived, we were shown to the house which would be our home for the next two weeks, and met two volunteers from Portugal who were also part of the Volunteer Exchange.

The next day we were introduced to the Mayor of Gulbene, and to some local volunteers, and then we were allocated our volunteering work. I was allocated a local primary school, and the local library. 

I loved working in the school. I did role play and conversation with the children, encouraging them to speak English to me and to each other. The teachers also enjoyed a chance to speak English too – although they had no choice as I speak no Latvian!

We had a chance to see Gulbene. One day, we were invited to a barbeque hosted by local volunteers, and on another day, we joined the teachers on a day trip to a local Country Park.

For my second week, I volunteered at a Summer Camp, as the children had broken up from school for the summer. This too was a great experience, and the children loved speaking to me in English. It made me think that I might have missed my vocation in life!

My volunteering experience at the library was very interesting.   We were tasked with preparing a display of photographs and text portraying the U.K for an exhibition which was due to open the following week. As the computer was set up in Latvian, this proved challenging at first, but it was good fun, and thought provoking, deciding which landmarks to show the U.K in its full splendour!

At the end of our stay, we were invited to the opening ceremony of the Exhibition at the Town Hall, where we were thanked for all our hard work.

The whole volunteering experience in Latvia was extremely rewarding and enjoyable and confirmed the benefits of volunteering work, particularly for seniors.