Empowering Strory.
Veronika Gita
the author of the interview: Vita Rekshnya
How can you do a lot while studying at school?

A schoolgirl named Veronika, a young activist from Latvia, impresses with her successes and achievements. A girl at the age 18 teaches capoeira for children, organizes meetings for teenagers every week as part of the "Teen Club" project, participated in a television program where she talked about plogging. Moreover, she launched her own SMU and is a volunteer at RFW. Veronika is the president of the school board. Today she agreed to share her story and experience. Read on if you are interested to know how she got to be so successful. And how she manages to cope with the difficulties on her way.

- What inspired you or perhaps motivated you to create or take part in various events? Why did you decide to do this?

It all started when I went to Erasmus+ 5 years ago and it inspired me a lot. The guys are so active, they all want to do something. I realized that I want to organize some kind of platform for teenagers, where they will feel comfortable, where they can accept anyone, regardless of flaws or shortcomings. My goal was to gather these guys and give them the opportunity to spend their free time with each other in a safe environment, replacing habitual loneliness at the computer to communicate with peers with the same interests.

Upon arrival home, the opportunity arose to take part in a project where, for the allocated amount, you can come up with and hold any event for teenagers. After I held this event, I realized that I like to perform in public, communicate with different people, helping to develop their talents. I had different calls with the guys where we shared our ideas. The most important thing that I realized for myself is that I want to help teenagers, who have bright eyes and have the motivation to create, change the future. Those who only need outside support to start creating and this motivates me the most.

- Did you have any difficulties at work and how did you deal with them?

Probably the most difficult thing was to create such a team, where there are a lot of those who want to write, who would be on the same wavelength with me and could support me. Sometimes there were difficulties when the guys seemed to get excited about the idea, and then they said that they were busy, transferred it to another time, or simply left. But now, after quite a long time, I found my team and I am very happy and grateful to them. At the same time, at the first stage, I was a little scared to ask for help, there was some embarrassment inside, "what if I say something wrong or ask", "if I write, they might think that I am strange?"... I decided for myself that I need to take risks, not be afraid of any reaction and go to the end.

-What inspired you to study and later to teach capoeira?

I tried myself in different types of dancing, but I did not succeed. Then I stumbled upon capoeira and realized that improvisation helps here and it doesn't have to be perfect. Here you can mix different movements, combining acrobatics with strikes. Moreover, if it is not enough for you to just perform the movement, you can take up music, we have Brazilian instruments. I was invited to teach children because I had experience and it is easy for me to find a common language with children. I realized how cool it is to combine what I like (martial art) with the possibility of having an income from it. This is just like motivation for me, because over time, when you do it for a long time, it can start to bother you and when I was offered a job, then I felt a surge of energy and a new goal appeared.

-What do you remember most from all your trips or organized events?

We had one project, the task was to go on a hike in a small group. Most went ahead. There were a few guys left including me. At one point, we realize that we were left alone in the forest. We did not know what to do and where to go. The phone did not work and we were trying to navigate by the stars. The night was approaching. We understood that we would have to spend it in the forest. We decided to continue searching for the road in the morning. We built a hut from branches. We remembered everything that we taught before the start of the campaign and tried to cheer each other up. When we noticed that it was already dawn, we decided to continue searching for the road. After some time, we heard the sound of a stream in the distance and thought that if we walked along it, we would definitely come out on some kind of road. After some time, we managed to reach our camp safely.

- Is there anything else that you have long dreamed of doing?

I wanted to learn orienteering skills and perhaps organize this event myself for charitable purposes. Moreover, I plan to organize an oratory event, invite professionals in their field and study this together with the participants.

- Describe your routine for a typical work day.

Since I am still a student, I study in the first half of the day. Thanks to the organization of "Young Folks Work", I found a small part-time job in the form of tutoring in the Latvian language. Sometimes after school I give lessons. In the evenings I have capoeira trainings and on weekends I do trainings for children. In addition to this, we are currently working on a course for teenagers. The course is related to the fact that we develop their teamwork skills and we also help them set goals correctly, because sometimes we have a lot of ideas in our heads, but how to do everything right and where to start, rarely anyone thinks.

- Has the experience you got affected your outlook in any way? What lessons are you learning or have you already learned?

Yes, of course, in fact, thanks to all these events that I have ever held, I realized that it became much easier for me to communicate with new people, I began to feel more comfortable, more confident. I understand that I can use this experience in for the benefit of myself and others, because after the events held, I can learn something new, discover new qualities in myself acquired from communication or work with different people. It became easier for me to express my thoughts.

- What advice can you give for teenagers who are just starting their journey?

The most important thing is not to be afraid to take risks, not afraid to try something new. Even if it does not work out, do not be disappointed because it is a great experience that you get. Moreover, you need to be more courageous in expressing your opinion and sharing it with others, because you can always be supported or helped

the author of the interview: Anzhelika Zuba
translator: Olesia Zhelezniak