My name is Amber. I’ve just finished my degree in Social Work and have decided to move to Romania to volunteer at an orphanage called Pro Vita. Over the past 6 years I have changed from a person who was too anxious to even order a take-away to someone who is planning to move to a completely different country with no-one I know.

This transition is something that I am immensely proud of, especially as it is a transition I have made while dealing with a wide range of obstacles, including anxiety and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. I hope to show people who are struggling with these things themselves that it is still possible to achieve your dreams.

The summer before I started sixth form, I took part in National Citizens Service with TYA, which was a major turning point in my life. Over the course of the 4-week program I made new friends, learned new skills, and most importantly, developed my confidence. Following on from NCS I started volunteering for The Youth Association and got involved with several projects including Young Inspectors and NCS graduates. My volunteering at the Youth Association helped me to find purpose and space for myself in my life. I started thinking about pitching and facilitating my own projects, which culminated in a cultural exchange project to Prague to gain a deeper understanding of the issues faced by the Roma Slovak communities and the different ways of working with these communities. Staff at the Youth Association helped to guide and encourage me throughout these years and inspired me to work in the helping professions. They spoke to me about the different options for degree choices and the different career paths I could take and helped me to prepare for my chosen degree path of social work.

While at university in Lincoln, I became a member of the board of trustees for The Youth Association, worked for NCS, worked for the Nomad Trust, got a second job as a bartender, completed my degree placements, and made an amazing group of friends, who have supported me and encouraged me. By the end of my first-year at university my muscle spasms and convulsions had stopped entirely, and I had become a more independent, confident person. By the beginning of my third year I had decided I wanted to volunteer abroad for a year following my degree. In March 2018, my grandad and I made the journey to Romania to visit Pro Vita and enquire about volunteering opportunities (as we could not get in touch over the phone or email). I fell in love with the beautiful landscapes and the individuality Romania has, and I fell in love with the ethos of Pro Vita.
I started learning Romanian in preparation for my year volunteering, with the help of a friend who is from Romania and started preparing for my departure. By the end of my year I hope to be fluent in Romanian and have a wealth of experience of the culture and working with such a diverse group of people. I intend to post about my adventures weekly and hope you will follow my journey. I’m still a TYA trustee and hope to stay in touch with the work of the Board while I’m in Romania.

(Follow Amber’s journey).