Forest of Dean? What is this? The majority of people ask this when they hear this name. It’s where I’m living. I’ve been living here, I, Mireia de Sant Just Desvern, since October 2017. It’s a forest in south England where there is a magical place called “ASHA Centre”. It’s a place where 8 volunteers from different countries, with other workers who are mostly from other countries too, work together to create the place where a lot of young people from different parts of the world can meet up and learn all kinds of different stuff. This site is based on the Rufolf Stainer’s philosophy. He’s a philosopher of the last century who started talking about biodynamics in the garden and self-sustaining housing. Although ASHA is not completely self-sustaining, it does resemble it.
The first time I arrived at this site I did not know exactly where I was going. I had left high school to go to the adventure and I got to a place far from everything with many people who spoke English. At first, I found it difficult to adapt to the language and the new customs. These were small details that made my life more difficult. But, to compensate for these small difficulties, I had incredible views every morning from my room.
Step by step, English has become easier and now, although I still have a long way to go to speak as I would like, I can understand and make myself understood. There are even times when I have problems speaking Catalan, since I find myself translating it into English mentally, so forgive me if some phrases sound a bit strange.
In this small corner of the world, I am learning many practical things that I have always wanted to know, especially basic aspects in the garden and the kithen.
But we could say that what makes me happier to be learning is the social aspect and a bit of self-knowledge. What social aspect could there be in this place so far from society? Living in a house with fifteen people, in a work place with ten more people, where about thirty young people come every month, I think it gives a lot of material to learn. The fact of knowing so many people with so many different opinions and experiences, gives me many things to think about. Also, the fact of doing things outside, gives me the time. Thanks to all of this and to the amazing people of ASHA, I have been able to learn a lot from myself, which I hope will always stay with me.
For that reason, I really recommend to all the people that have the opportunity to do an EVS, do it. Do not doubt it. But my advice is that you go carefully and make sure that the organization that hosts you is the one that suits you. Decide what kind of project you want, because ASHA is an incredible site, but if you really want to feel you are changing something during your volunteering, I recommend a more humanitarian project. You should also be careful of how the organization is, because I’ve had a lot of luck and ended up in a place where they have taken care of me very well, but I know other volunteers from other places who were having a bad time because of the host organization.
But well, to sum up, if you are careful when choosing, SVE is an incredible opportunity that should not be missed.