News

At the age of 24, Iulia Covaliova, manager at the Falesti Youth Center: "I am very motivated to do things well, in my community"

6 November 2020
At the age of 24, Iulia Covaliova, manager at the Falesti Youth Center: "I am very motivated to do things well, at home"

Iulia Covaliova is a 24-year old manager at the Youth Center of the Falesti district. She got the job a year ago, and since then, she says she has been taking great pains to make big changes she plans together with youth. She wanted to study abroad and change the world – now she is starting a family at home and influencing the volunteers of the Youth Center through an already proven method: debates.

Iulia was born, raised and studied until the age of 18 in Falesti city. The information she had access to as a pupil, the Russian instruction school and the lack of interaction with other active young people in the city made Iulia believe that she lived in a community where she could not find herself – she didn’t know about volunteering, she didn’t understand how she could cooperate with young Romanian speakers, and she didn’t believe that there could be a place in her city where young people make decisions and speak their mind.

The activity of 2014, when Iulia discovered activities for young people

“I was born with a spirit of activism in my blood. However, when I left Falesti, I didn’t know anything about Youth Centers or Youth Councils. I learned about volunteering by chance, in 2014, when I took part in Wave Week Moldova, and I had to implement a small project in my town. When I arrived in Falesti, it was like I was from a different planet – everybody was clueless about what I wanted and for what purpose”.

After graduating from high school, Iulia decided to continue her studies at the Alecu Russo State University in Balti – this way she could maintain her relationship, which later turned into a family. It was only at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences that Iulia found out that young people can implement projects and can change things in Moldova.

“At the time, I also met with the Balti Youth Center, then with the District Youth Council, and I was wondering: Are they young and independent people, who can speak their mind freely and come up with proposals? How wonderful it must be! This is just what I need”.

Young people from the Falesti Youth Center prepared pallets for the open-air stage, set up in the summer of 2020

The position of the manager of the Falesti Youth Center (Falesti YC) changed Iulia's life: the young lady realized that she loves her city, that she likes the youth sphere, that she is passionate about non-formal education and that she wants to help young people – those who look on her as a reliable person who they can ask everything.

“After my studies, I came back to Falesti. I spoke to a specialist from the district council working on youth and told him that I was interested in volunteering, activities for youth. He told me that a Youth Center would open and that I could participate in the competition to fill the vacancy of the manager.

In the meantime, I took part in the Training for trainers at MilleniuM with Vitalie Cirhana – I dreamed of such training. I also learned about human rights and non-formal education there. I was so excited! I knew how to work with young people and I was so aware of everything that was going on. I won the competition.”

“This is how I see my life now. I don't want to go abroad anymore, where people have worked for years to change something. I’m very motivated to do well at home. I have a lot of work to do in the next ten years and I know what I can do for Falesti.”

Young people from the Falesti Youth Center took part in the national campaign “Youth of Moldova for #GlobalGoals”

Since November 2019, since the opening of the Center, young people do not miss activities, there are even more of them because they invite each other. Their presence, behavior, interest in activities make it clear to Iulia that the Youth Center is important for young people. However, Iulia believes that Falesti YC may have even more volunteers, and for this, it’s necessary that the local public authorities (LPAs) hire one or two more youth specialists.

“At the Center, I also work with a youth specialist who works part-time – Mariana helps me a lot, I couldn't do it alone. The hardest thing for me is to attract young people. To keep them active, there should be five or six services (volunteering, leisure, participation, documentation and information, and career guidance services, etc.). Now I provide four services: I hold pieces of training every day, I prepare myself, I draw up agendas, and I make sure that young people come every time. Normally there should be specialists for each service”.

Graffiti at the Falesti Youth Center – young people changed the appearance of the building in which they operate, an initiative of the YouCreate community

In a year of activity, of which eight months into the pandemic, Iulia and young people from Falesti YC managed to participate in dozens of activities: they provided basic services; they organized online training with special guests (nutrition and lifestyle; media and fake news); they held advocacy sessions with petition signing and built three bike stands; they organized film screenings; they drew graffiti and set up an open-air stage. On top of it, they implemented an environmental project.

“There are 13 volunteers and other 50 active members working in the Center. Our services include information, leisure, volunteering and participation. There was something special when 20 young people, pupils, and alumni, participated in debates with LPAs and discussed what is organized for young people, what is the allocated budget, etc. Ideas arise from my experience and my needs – I want to offer them what I was short of; I want them to know what I learn”.

Meeting of young people at the Falesti Youth Center, February 2020

The pandemic was a challenge for Iulia and didn’t give her time to rest. The young lady says that she didn’t refuse any partnership or the opportunity to learn something new. So, in September Iulia realized that the Center had more volunteers than in February.

“I found the advocacy sessions offered by a partner organization very helpful – it was all free, and in the end, we had to organize a local event. Together with the young people, we wrote a petition asking to organize bike stands at the fountain, in the park and at the Falesti City Hall. When we were building parking for bicycles, we understood that we, the youth, could change something in the city”.

Activities organized in the Falesti city – promoting environmentally friendly behavior and preventing pollution

 

So, in eleven months, the Falesti Youth Center has turned into a space for debates, a therapy room, an entertainment environment and a place where young people can freely ask about anything and express their thoughts without fear.

Iulia doesn’t say that it’s easy to work with young people, but this is something that brings her much pleasure.

“I try to change their views and make them analyze – my favorite method is debate. Half of the young people I talk to say they want to leave Moldova because there are no prospects here. I ask them: “But how do you know? Where did you get that idea?? If you say that there are no prospects, do you view yourself as a victim who has no chance to change anything?”

I do not enter into discussion on personal topics that relate to their feelings. In all other respects, if I know the topic, we talk for hours. I also have a few keys to reach them – I’m honest, I’m open and I don’t put myself above others.

Young people in 2020 are different, but they have the same needs: they want to fulfill their dreams, to find their place, to have fun; to feel that they are listened to and appreciated”.

 

Photos: Youth Media Center; Falesti YC Facebook page

The project is implemented by the Youth Media Center, within Joint Fund for the development of Youth Centers and strengthening participation and civic engagement among young people of Ministry of Education, Culture and ResearchSwiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and United Nations Population Fund