Design a site like this with
Get started

Siiri Lonkila’s experience volunteering in Cyprus with ESC

  • Education Volunteering UnityiOS
  • Politistiko Ergastiri Agion
  • Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 2.9.2021-29.1.2022

I arrived in Cyprus at the beginning of September 2021. I felt excited but relaxed at the same time, mostly because I changed my flight at Munich airport and I met there my new friends, Patrick and Daniel, who were going to volunteer in the same organization. We had a nice chat before our flight and it felt so good to start our journey together.

Traveling to a new country and starting a new experience can be exhausting: First of all, my traveling from Eastern Finland to Cyprus took more than 24 hours. Second of all, it was +7 degrees in Helsinki when I took my flight, so you can imagine how big the heatwave in Larnaca was for me! The weather in Nicosia was very hot at the beginning, but I was enjoying it a lot. Later I learnt that weather is not the only warm thing in Cyprus because people there are extremely kind and warm-hearted!

Before my departure, I checked our apartment’s location from google maps and I need to say that it didn’t look very good on it. But when I went into our apartment and met my roommate Wiktoria, I knew immediately that I was in the right place. Also when my other flatmates Lucia, Nati and later Marta arrived it was clear that we are going to have so many good and hilarious moments together. We all shared a passion for pumpkin pies and other delicious pastries from the bakery next to us and from the beginning we started to plan nice day trips and activities, such as a quad
safari and beach days, together. It wasn’t only us living together, because, in addition, we shared our apartment with many new friends who came to visit us from the other side of Cyprus or Europe.

I started my job as an education volunteer at the beginning of September. When I came to Cyprus, a little I knew about the work I was supposed to do. From the beginning, I was surprised how well everything went in our cultural centre and in Agios Antonios Primary School where I started my work with my roommate Wiktoria. Everybody welcomed us and it was very easy to adapt to the school. Our volunteering started with manual work, organizing and preparing material for the
school year and students. Later on, we planned and organized different workshops about European Union. For me, all the projects I made with Wiktoria were very important. It also showed me how much we have in common just because we all were European.

For me, all this volunteering process was a big confidence booster that also opened my eyes. I was learning a lot about myself as a person and as a teacher and at the same time, it was amazing to see how different school system works and to notice that teachers are doing many similar things that I was doing in my work in Finland: Cultural differences were not that big in the end and teachers are very professional all around Europe. The most heart-melting thing was to see how students are the same everywhere and you can help them with your knowledge and also they are teaching you something about life. I gave a lot for this project but definitely, I learned more than I could ever imagine.

I have a master’s degree in educational sciences from Finland and I already had two years of professional work experience after graduation. In Finland, people called me brave when I told them about my plan to move to Cyprus and start to volunteer in a local school. For me, this all was a natural step to take and try something new at this point of my life when I’m not too stuck in my home country. I feel, that this is something that teachers should do often: jump out of their comfort zone and try something new.

Try to challenge yourself and use your skills and knowledge in a new environment, you will be surprised how much you can do and besides that, you will learn a bunch of new things and skills.

Cyprus gave me many other things besides work and growing in a professional way. It gave me good friends, delicious food, extremely beautiful places to visit, stunning beaches and beautiful mountains. I will never forget those places I visit and those people who shared these moments with me. I will never forget the discussions I had with my friends, with strangers, with my colleagues and I will keep all those beautiful memories in my heart forever. In addition, this experience gave me time and the possibility to think about what should I do next in my life, what is the next step to take and what kind of life I would like to live in the future.

After this experience, the biggest surprise for me was a phone call from my sending organisation. This phone call changed my career because my sending organisation hired me and I will start a new job soon. My lovely roommate and dear friend Wiktoria described that she is not the same person before and after Cyprus. I also feel the same. I’m very thankful for this experience and for all the people who made it possible.


Pd.: It’s lovely to have you on board, good luck with your next adventure in Hyvärilä (Laura Glez) ❤


Published by volunteersofhyvarila

Hello! We are volunteers at Hyvärilä Youth Centre, Nurmes, Finland sharing experiences and projects.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: