Our transnational project manager, youth worker, wife , and mom- Anastasia Mazur
Updated: Jan 14
One of the people to blame for my and my partner staying here is Anastasia, who has been a youth worker for a long time. Personally, I have always been interested in working with young people and I admired the youth workers, with a great desire to one day be part of that family. I asked Anastasia what it is like to work with young people traveling around the world and how much she loves her job, read more details below..
Tell us more about you? I live in Madeira with my family - my husband, our baby daughter and four cats. We speak Portuguese quite ok because our first year we lived here in the town of Câmara de Lobos and got to speak it to people in daily situations. We like travelling a lot but somehow after moving to Madeira we haven't gone anywhere much. I enjoy surfing but can't do it very well yet :)
What is really interesting to me is that many young people admire our travel and work, but are not well informed, can you explain more about these Erasmus projects and the "way" to get here?
Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps provide many opportunities for young people to travel and learn about other countries and cultures, improve English and other foreign languages, acquire new competencies, including those which can help to build a better career.
Participating in such projects is relatively easy for young people because the European Union is increasing their spending on such programs from year to year - because they see real positive results. The great thing is that for young people, participation is mostly 100% free - travel, accommodation, meals and other expenses are covered by the programme.
How to take part in a youth exchange or a volunteering project? There are thousands of non-profit organisations around Europe that provide such opportunities for young people. If you are looking for such mobilities, you should find an association in your town or just in your country and ask what opportunities they have at the moment. Another option is to contact directly an association you would like to visit or to volunteer with: for example, Association ARTE.M announces volunteering positions, art residencies and youth mobilities several times a year (it was this way pre-pandemic and we hope will resume soon), so just follow our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/arte.m.association and apply. Finally, to become a volunteer of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), you can register at the European portal https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en and see all open positions around Europe for yourself.
We are the second generation of volunteers here at ArteM, but this is not the only type of project you are working on and will be implemented, tell us more about it?
As a cultural and artistic association, ARTE.M is running a couple of interesting projects at the moment.Recently, we have become a partner in a big international project Soft City: From Flaneur to Entrepreneur where a team of organisations from France, Sweden, Romania and Portugal will work on promoting the cultural heritage in their communities. In this project, together with a big group of young people, we will create an artistic map of Funchal - with beautiful drawings of buildings, a set of cards for a city game, and a book of stories about social entrepreneurship in Portugal and other countries in this project. Another project which we are preparing now is a seminar for international organisations that work with art, digital tools and entrepreneurship. It will take place in Madeira in 2021. We want to exchange best practices on how to support artists with digital tools and help them promote their art online and reach more audiences. Finally, we will host an international youth exchange Walls of Culture where we will experiment with various artistic techniques, photo and video, and create together a mural graffiti somewhere in Madeira - of course with the permission of the authorities. All these projects have become possible thanks to the Erasmus+ Programme. Some other projects are under development - so more exciting news is coming!
What inspired you to become a youth worker, and more about the projects you did till now?
I started youth work in 2013 as a part of Center for Euroinitiatives https://www.facebook.com/ceisumy, a non-profit in my hometown, Sumy, Ukraine. This is one of the strongest Ukrainian associations working with international funds and providing opportunities for young people, so I got really inspired by the values behind this work. Another, more personal reason is that when I was a teenager and a university student, we didn't have such great travel and learning opportunities that young people can have now. I remember my first ever study trip abroad - it was Poland. This modern and industrial city of Lodz - with beautiful shopping malls, coffee shops, well-dressed people talking a foreign language - also the things we discussed with the association we visited - about the culture, common history, environment - it was very different from what I had seen by then, and I was impressed. So once I discovered this world, I really wanted to share it with as many people as possible - which is possible via such European mobilities.
Is this your full-time job?
Back in Ukraine, it was my full-time job - because life was cheaper there and European grants could cover a monthly salary. Here in Portugal, normally you would need to do something else on top. I work on several directions at the same time, one of which is a photo and video business here in Madeira together with my husband, also public relations and marketing (I come from journalism), and our English-speaking online magazine about life in Madeira.
What do you like most about this job?
You can work seriously on things that you care about - art, culture, digital skills for better employment, environment, human rights and so on - find people who share your values, get funding and really work on these topics.
Why did you choose Madeira? I visited Madeira in 2014 for a short training course and was stunned by the nature, towns and local people. And generally by the idea that - wow you can be born on a tropical island and live here! We made friends with an association Teatro Metaphora from Câmara de Lobos and next year I came to help start their first volunteering projects within European Voluntary Service, also being a volunteer myself. For me, a person from deeply continental flatlands, living on an island in the ocean this is a totally different world. We have fallen in love with Madeira and feel at home here. And now our 1 year old daughter knows how it is - to be born on a tropical island :)
Veronika Zhezhovska 14.01.2021