Eva Fernandez, EU Aid Volunteer: A great opportunity for me to learn about GeorgiaMar 31, 2020
Eva Fernandez, 24, is from Spain and recently joined our team in Georgia to help with communication and programing.
Eva, why did you decide to pursue a career in humanitarian and development aid?
After studying anthropology for my bachelor’s degree, I went on to study for a Master’s in Humanitarian Action. Previously I worked with international organizations like Médecins du Monde and the Indian Red Cross Society in Mumbai. I also had the amazing opportunity to work and live in countries like Mexico, Kenya, and India. Then, the EU Aid volunteering opportunity came up and I decided to apply.
As you know, EU Aid Volunteers is an initiative funded by the European Commission to promote cooperation among European citizens by working with communities experiencing humanitarian crises or during the recovery process. EU Aid Volunteers aims to provide practical support to projects and strengthen local capacity and resilience of the communities. I am very excited to start this adventure working with People in Need Georgia for a year as a Private Sector Engagement Officer.
And what was your main motivation for coming to Georgia?
Georgia is such an interesting and unique country to live in. I was extremely motivated to experience and get to know first-hand the traditions, the values, and the lifestyle of a society as socially, culturally, and ethnically diverse as this one. But I wouldn’t be lying if I said that Khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread) and Georgian wine had an influence on my final decision.
What were your first impressions about Georgia?
A quick internet research about Georgia shows dreamy mountains, remote monasteries, and picturesque vineyards. But what has impressed me most since my arrival was the hospitality and the warmth of Georgians, always ready to help with a smile. I was also fascinated by Tbilisi’s artistic and bohemian atmosphere; it seems like such an interesting city for the youth!
How do you personally find the life here in Georgia?
Like in many other places of the world, the living situation is currently quite challenging due to the COVID-19 crisis. Even though the Government of Georgia has been very precautious since the beginning of the outbreak, Georgia has now declared state of emergency. We are now following strict measures such as social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But before this incident I had the chance to be fully immersed in Georgian culture. I sensed some similarities with Spain, especially relating to the work-life balance. I also feel like relationships and the sense of community is very strong. On the other hand, I live in Tbilisi and it is a city with a lot to offer, so no evening goes by without an exciting new art exhibition, a live music concert, or a theatre play.
What are your current job responsibilities?
PIN Georgia is focusing on rural development, civil society development, and social protection projects. It is certainly a great opportunity for me to learn about the Georgian context from all of these diverse projects. “Human Rights through Documentaries” is one of my favorite projects, as it promotes youth engagement through fun and interactive platforms. In addition, I am very happy with my colleagues, since they not only do remarkable work but also have time to teach me Georgian every day. So, to them I say, madloba (thank you)!
What do you hope to contribute to the People in Need Georgia team?
I hope to bring a new and fresh perspective to the organization and to our lovely team. I am happy to support all PIN projects with enthusiasm. I also wish to contribute with the set of skills that I recently acquired at my EU Aid Volunteer training program.
Is there anything you miss from home?
Unfortunately, yes. Spanish olive oil, jamón serrano, and Manchego cheese will always have a place in my heart. I also miss very dearly walking down the bustling boulevards and the small cobblestone walkways of Madrid. Oh, and of course my family.
Thank you, Eva, and good luck in your new assignment!