What were your expectations when you applied to volunteer in GEAI?

Ilya: Good question! Before arriving in Ireland I lived for a few months in Moscow, one of the largest cities in Europe. It was noisy, polluted and fairly depressing so I was looking for something new for myself.

Ireland and GEAI were a chance to look at what life can be if you live in a sense of peace with yourself, your community and the nature around you. To be honest, I wasn’t prepared to handle both small and large-scale projects! I thought GEAI would focus on one type, but fortunately, I was wrong. It was a great experience and truly unique, even by ESC standards. 

What was your favorite part of the work you did?

I: It’s hard to find something that would stand out. During my time with GEAI, I had a great time working among great people and focusing on really interesting projects. I think my favorite part of work would be all the things GEAI does for the Ballinaglera community. From small meetings to big events, working in the Community Hall was by far the best part of the work. It was very rewarding to watch how the community slowly recovered from COVID and flourished once again! 

What was the funniest episode that happened to you while in Ireland?

I: My funny jokes are the best thing that happened to Ireland.

Can you tell us one of your jokes?

I: Yes. Some people eat snails. (pause for suspense) I guess they don’t like eating fast food!

What was one of the most special moments you lived in Ireland?

I: Besides this, I remember the Christmas Market in Knocknarea, Sligo. What a great time, with a wonderful ocean view. I spent this day with my fellow volunteers, Tanya, Celia, and my mentor. Later that day we had a chance meeting with GEAI’s Leslie and Nicoletta. Ireland is a small place after all!

Thinking about it, I can say that exploring Ireland is always exciting and funny.

What is your next adventure?

I: My next adventure will be just across the Irish Sea in the land of the Scots, where I was fortunate enough to receive full funding for my postgraduate studies. I was awarded Erasmus Mundus Scholarship and was offered a chance to enroll in a master’s degree in the field of economics from three prestigious universities: Glasgow (Scotland), Uppsala (Norway) and Gottingen (Germany).

How did your time in GEAI help and prepare you for your further studies?

I: I think my experience with GEAI made me a suitable candidate for this endeavour. In my opinion, Good Energies is a unique project among ESC, as it gives you a chance to work on something greater than yourself.

Overall, I’m glad how I spent the last months. Ireland became a safe haven for me in these crazy and turbulent times and GEAI a good and supportive family!