Asian Voices

The latest issue of Asian Voices has been published today, the magazine that is prepared by volunteers in the Asia Pacific region, highlighting all the latest activities and projects. As part of the 12th issue, Wilbert Helsloot carried out an interview with Sathya, our EVS volunteer from India that joined the International Secretariat as part of the project Global Volunteer Action

International Secretariat staff and volunteers celebrate Sathya's birthday at the IS office, Antwerp, Belgium (2016)

Sathya has been with us for the past 9 months supporting the office and the Teach Team with IT support and working on improving SCI's website, Member's Area and other platforms. Currently he is focusing on the exciting output of the Global Volunteer Action project, a Database for Resource Persons, as the project continues into it's last phase, the Final Seminar, being held next month in Barcelona, Spain. 

Wilbert Helsloot: When I approached Sathya for an interview with Asian Voices, he reacted with full enthusiasm. Before I was aware, he composed in Skype the following sentence: 

“After coming over to Europe and staying here for the past few months, I feel my exposure has opened up so many opportunities to meet new people, cultivate friendships, explore and understand new ways of life and understand various cultures. This brief but eventful stay here has so far taught me new insights on the history, politics, customs, food and culture of different regions / Countries of Europe. It was a Non- formal education albeit, leading to a deeper understanding of the life style and greatness of this European Continent.”

And the interview had not even started! This was a kind of a dream start. At the question of the sentence above was a famous quote of him, Sathya answered: “Hehe… I just wrote what I felt. Those are thoughts popping out of my mind when someone asks about my pleasant experience here in Europe.”

At the end I spoke to Sathya by Skype on a Friday- afternoon. In order not to be disturbed by colleagues and to be able to talk more freely and openly, he settled himself behind his laptop in the office of VIA-Belgium (same building, but separate room).

Photo taken in the International Secretariat office during the IEC meeting, 2015

We started the conversation as follows:

  • How did you become aware of the position of Tech-LTV in the International Secretariat?

I was studying Information Technology. The head of the department of I.T knew Mr Jayaprasad Sir (national secretary of SCI India, WH) and got to know about this possibility and informed me.

  • Did you apply immediately?

Yes, I thought it was a good opportunity. I got full guidance and support of Jayaprasad Sir, whom I would like to thank very much.

  • And then you left for Europe… Was it difficult to adapt to European lifestyle?

It was much easier than I was told. Several people warned that I would experience a culture-shock, sort of being treated as “other people”, “other mentality”. But that was not the case at all. I was also warned about the food and weather but they too were not bad either. By the way, I soon started attending an Integration course and till now attending lessons in Dutch language regularly too.

  • Did you face obstacles (especially in the beginning?)

Well, I did have to deal with time-management. It is much more time bound and organized in Europe. Now I am getting more used to it. The work was also sometimes very demanding in the beginning.

  • Do you consider yourself as a member of a minority-group in Europe?

As a person representing India, yes I am minority in that sense.  But, in the broader perspective of hard working people wide, I belong to the majority and consider myself as that.

  • Do you miss Indian food?

No, not really. On occasions I go to an Indian restaurant in Antwerp..And I learned cooking here by asking my mother in India for recipes. I also have a like for different kinds of breads here and other vegetarian cuisines to name a few.

  • What do you consider as typical Europe (or Antwerp)

The lay-out of the city is typically European. Besides that, there are lots of historical monuments and buildings. Not to say the least of all - the bikes in the city landscape and the freedom to enjoy your ride safely. Eventually it is good against pollution also and eco-friendly

  • Did Europe broaden your horizon and in what way?

Yes, I experienced there is lot of freedom here. Freedom to shape your own life, to choose your field. It is not viewed by the destination from where you come. Rather it was measured by the desire you wish to reach your goal. That is not always the case in India frankly. I am lucky in the sense that I have supportive parents and can make my own choices. Not many can boast of such supportive environment.

  • You are EVS in the International Secretariat (IS) of SCI. What are your tasks in the IS?

I have basically 3 kinds of tasks associated with my work

  1. IT-support and software-development
  2. Working on different Technical platforms / projects
  3. General Administrative tasks
  • How is it like: working in the IS?

It is truly enriching for me. My colleagues are very supportive and I would like specially thank Ms Ela, Ms Sara and Mr Ossi a lot.  I had my mid term evaluation that was very positive and encouraging. I also have a good relationship with members of the Tech Team of SCI towards the role and responsibilities.

  • And when does your service end? And do you have plans after your service?

I really hope it will last for quite a while,  but officially it is to end by August’ 16. My plans are not defined yet clearly after this but for sure I would like to stay here in Europe in pursuance of my goals and knowledge for sure.


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