The other day we were very lucky to attend a “Predeparture training” (before we leave for our host islands) thanks to Santa and David, from Isla Creactiva, who decided to use an entire weekend to explain basic things that we must know to be good European volunteers.
The volunteers from the other islands had come to Tenerife. I already knew Tino from Lanzarote and Mónica from Fuerteventura as I had the opportunity to meet other volunteers in several meetings we had here in La Laguna. We spent all weekend learning useful things, such as how to operate our health insurance or how to make a tortilla with fried bananas, an interesting recipe that Monica brought along. We also learned some curious things. Nau from Gran Canaria had bought a book about birds from the Canary Islands. He now knows how to imitate the whistle of almost all the canarian birds.
David and Santa, two ex-volunteers, shared their experiences with us and we all could express our fears, hopes and concerns, and above all, we were laughing a lot and we were having a great time.
During this intensive weekend one of the things I really liked was that David and Santa had arranged with European volunteers who were here in Tenerife to join us at the end of the meeting. This was great, as they could tell us a lot about their own experience.
We went to a very nice terrace in a park and, once the hot chocolate was ordered, they began to introduce themselves. The first thing I noticed was that they were all girls. They were participating in different projects, some of them were collaborating with AURI organizing things for Erasmus students, and others had come to work in play centres, with such bad luck that shortly after arriving in Tenerife, the play centres were closed due to a strike. This news scared us all, but we were relieved when we heard that Isla Creactiva could find them other places to work. They merely had to change their activity agreement and could continue their volunteering-project in Tenerife.
They also told us that their flat was very cold (normal, they have it here in La Laguna), and “Saint” David and “Saint” Santa had given them blankets and a stove to sustain them through the winter of La Laguna.
Besides, they also explained us some things about AXA (health insurance covering European volunteers). They told us that they were very happy here, that they were doing very well and that they had a lot of autonomy in their projects. They had no complaints at all.
The truth is that meeting those girls served to reduce fears that still haunted our minds. Especially when they told us how rapidly the situation with the playground-strike had been solved, nothing seemed impossible … Even a more general worry like not knowing the language of the host island, slowly started disappearing as we were “talking” and laughing with a girl who still had some difficulties with the Spanish language but she has managed very well with a little bit of English and a lot of “sign language.”
Best of all was the friendly and relaxed atmosphere during the meeting. All volunteers were very nice and they told us that they were very happy to be there and explained what they were doing. They really reassured us, gave a lot of energy and good vibes and they advised us to relax and trust that everything would be okay. To hear that from a volunteer was just what we needed!
Thank you very much girls!