Ondrášik: Where there is a will there is a way. I do not believe in crisis.

A project manager of a free information service for young people – EURODESK Miloš Ondrášik is an active young person who initially unconsciously but later consciously started actively working with non-formal education.  He is a great example of how to help young people.  As a volunteer he gained not only a lot of experiences, but also learned how to understand Roma youth and how to focus on different values that cannot be converted into money.  For European Dialogue of Perspective Attitude Miloš revealed more about himself, the functioning of Eurodesk and he encouraged young people to learn how to use their opportunities.

When was the first time you met with the word non-formal education?

I was a part of non-formal education already when I was 14, but I did not know about it.  I spent one or two weeks each year in a youth camp Gifra.  During the program there we were discussing topics in small groups and I got the initial idea about how to communicate and how to express my ideas.  Later on I became an animator and learned how to work in a team.  At the end of my high school studies I became a volunteer in a Roma Education Centre, I experienced my first international exchange and later, me and other volunteers created and joined our own international exchange.  That was the first time I got a hint of project management, human rights and intercultural education.  During the campaign “All different, all equal” I began to work as an intern for an organization IUVENTA – Slovak Youth Institute.  I started to work for IUVENTA on the 23 January 2008 when I was a first year student of Department of Philosophy at the UCM in Trnava.  Three days at school, two days in IUVENTA.  Working with youth and non-formal education grew on me and soon I started to spend more time at work than at school.  Gradually I passed from administrative work to content activities – topics such as volunteering, human rights, youth research.  I started to mentor in the fields of personal development and mentoring became my biggest hobby as well as my job.

Today I have been working as a project manager of information network Eurodesk for over a year and in my free time I do some commercial, no commercial or any other type of mentoring in which I see some point and where I can use my creativity. Besides working I am still a volunteer and I have dozens of completed projects on local, national and international level.

Where is your motivation to help young people coming from?

What I gained from my work as a volunteer cannot be converted into money.  It is a kind of a syndrome – the will to do many things for no money.  In fact you are gaining skills, knowledge and attitudes that cannot be bought and which are more important than the money itself.  My favourite is the work with Roma youth even though I do not have that much time for it at the moment.  I like comming back to that community.  Romas do not need help, and they do not even ask for it.  They live in their own world that we do not understand, but that is in many ways more interesting than ours.  Evaluation of what is good and what is bad I’d rather leave for someone else.  If you spend a lot of time with Roma children, they will get an opportunity to look through methaphorical door into the world of „Gadjos“ while remaining safe in their homes – in their community.  And when they grow up, it is only their decision if they decide to enter the “big world” or if they stay in “the safety of the community.”  Personally, it offers me a different life view, that is most of the time filled with stress about relatively important things.

Could you describe activities and goals of Eurodesk, how it works, what is the structure and maybe give us some backstage information?

Eurodesk Slovakia is a national partner of a wide family of Eurodesk national information networks around Europe.  Almost every country has its representation.  Alltogethere there are 33 Eurodesks within Europe.  An interesting fact is that for example Belgium has more than one branch.  They have four of them – Flemish, Valoon, German and the management agency that is based there – the EurodeskBrusselsLink.  Within Eurodesk Slovakia I am developing the capacity of information agencies that serve as info points in different regions.  For them I prepare training, supply them with information and prepare publications about opportunities for the youth.  The agencies and the national partner serve as information service for young people who need advice when it comes to volunteering, studies, traveling or working abroad.  We organize events and competitions that promote mobility and an active life of young people among the youth and the ones who work with the youth.  Essentialy I understand Eurodesk as an information service for the youth and the youth coordinators who discovered the power of non-formal education and its contribution for personal development.  Besides this Eurodesk spreads information about the Youth in Action programme and the new Erasmus + program.

Currently Eurodesks are working on European Youth Portal development that will serve as an information platform for youth all around Europe.  In the future Eurodesk will become a part of Erasmus + and it will no longer be a part of youth program like now (it was a part of National Agency Youth in Action).  It will keen more on the area of structured dialogue and online information.  Until now, there was always one person responsible for Eurodesk in Slovakia.  In bigger countries Eurodesk usually has two or more employees.  The largest Eurodesks – Turkey, Italy, Spain and Poland have up to 10 employees.  I hope that with the upcomming Erasmus + program in Slovakia the number or employees who will work on informing young people about their opportunities within Europe will grow.

What is the moment you like to remember while working for Eurodesk?

A conference “Learning to Leaving” in Upsall about the youth mobility gave me a lot of new knowledge and motivated me for further work.  I understood that the mobility in youg people lives is really important in order to live a quality and open life.  And that people leave in order to come back.  I also like to remember on an email from one lady who wrote to me that she wants to study diplomacy in Dubai when she finishes her high school and asked to reimburse the fees and that she is willing to stay and work there as a diplomat for that money.  Sometimes it is difficult to answer diplomatically.  But I did.  It is also very rewarding when a Slovak organization is looking for foreign volunteers and they ask me to post the offer into our internal communication system and they call me after two days to take if off as they already have 30 volunteers who are interested in the job.  With things like that you get a feeling that it all makes sense.

As a young person, how would you evaluate a current situation within EU?

Where there is a will there is a way.  I do not believe in the crisis.  I do believe in the abbilities and strenght of the youth.  If they get education and if they travel with the eyes and souls open, they can achieve what they please.  The rest are just excuses, or unforunatelly still unsufficiently inclusive society that is unable to provide equal acces and education for all.  This is a real challenge.  You have to be critical, think critically and to act immediately, so we do not have to use excuses all the time.  Only the educated and strong Europe can last.  And it has something to offer to the world.

Is there something you would like to say to the young people of Europe?

Hic sun leones does not work anymore.  You need to travel.  Beyond the boders of you region, state, beyond the boders of your comfor zone and especially beyond the opinions of others.  Try to do one thing every day that you are afraid of.  Try to think less of money that you can earn and more of the things you can learn at your job.  Use the opportunities that Europe is offering.  One day in America a famous comedian stood up on a busy square in a big town.  He raised his hand with a 100 dollar bill in it.  From time to time he shouted at the people passing by “Who wants this bill?” The people stopped, looked at him, raised their hands and shouted “Me!Me!” After few hours a man jumped on the stage and took the bill.  And this is more or less how the grants offered by European Union work.   Enormous amounts of money are invested in the youth.  And sometimes we are not able or willing to just come and get them.  While the only thing that we actually need to do is to move our ass a little.

Miroslav Hajnoš