Not to mention only my point of view I have decided to introduce you to two volunteers who are doing EVS here in Sicily. Helena, from Tenerife, who works in a house with children separated from their families, and Alfredo, form Murcia, doing more or less the same job in a house with teenagers. They’ve been here 3 and 4 months and are enjoying the experience.
1st Do you think that volunteering is more a matter of giving or receiving?
HELENA: I think it gets more than what is given. On a personal level, as experience, I do volunteering with children and the heat I get from them and the entire community is not comparable to what I’m doing for them.
ALFREDO: Of course it gets more. I think so too, also at the experience of living with other volunteers, then you’re going to Spain knowing other cultures, other country … Also when I’m at work the love the kids, people they give… or for example in the street, if you ask any Italian when you say that you came from Spain everybody smiles …
2nd From the perspective of a volunteer, it is very hard to adjust to the schedule, the tasks, place and pace of work?
ALFREDO: I am very happy because in my project there is a lot of flexibility, it does not mean I can leave when I want, it is clear that I have to meet a few hours and tasks, but I can go one day choose whether or not to go, I can choose which tasks I want to participate and which not …. And I think that’s something important for a volunteer, if you impose a schedule and a very strictest tasks run the risk of demotivation.
HELENA: Exactly, it would be a voluntary work. In my case, they are much more strict, for me this is more like a job as a volunteer and rightly Alfredo discourages you a bit, especially when you compare your salary for the salary he would earn doing other work in the genre.
3rd And to be integrated into the home, in the office … learn the language?
ALFREDO: It’s pretty hard. I remember it took me a month to start interacting with people in the house. But it is harder still at work. The adaptation time I put it in 2 ½ months. I remember the first two weeks on the job was a challenge, it did not cause me trauma, but it was hard, I work with teenagers who you speak all at once, sometimes in Sicilian, which they have to help make duties … Well, you could say that after I got the hang of it and I feel in my element …
HELENA: For me it was the opposite. It was all pretty easy, language, more or less in a month already I understood everything and I was able to make myself understood, the city, all … It was not like when I moved out for college.
4th And in society?
HELENA: I feel totally integrated, I see that maybe we are too closed in our volunteers world, here at home we’re all of the same association, co-workers … I like to meet people in other contexts. I thought society was more similar to Spanish but I’ve noticed that. I see Sicily as Spain 20 years ago, in what relates to social mentality. A young woman of my age, 29, is considered here that have to be married or promised, the equal education not seen, sex education … the Vatican is very noticeable.
ALFREDO: I also feel totally adapted, I had no problem with the city or with the customs of the house where I work … removing the language barrier of the beginning everything is perfect. Well, it’s true that I for example I’m gay and I cannot say here as freely as I say in Spain, but also if in Spain I would work in a house of teenagers I will say neither. Although I do not agree with that of Sicily is Spain for 20 years ago, it must be because I relate to people who are quite open-minded.
5th Do you believe that in the “boot” has been fairly easy or believe they have fought long?
HELENA: Neither one nor the other, depends on the project but for example in my work every day there is a problem and is quite complicated, quite sad …
ALFREDO: For me it’s all pretty easy, the first month I did a course in Italian, all housemates were very open from the beginning, the work has been the most difficult, but also by educators who work there … The sharing a room for me if it has been a personal challenge, having only been living 8 years … But I think I exceeded.
6th Well now are you satisfied? It was what was you expected?
HELENA: Yes, 100%.
ALFREDO: Yes, very much, and I even think it has exceeded my expectations.
7th How do you believe could enhance / leverage over the months they have left?
ALFREDO: I would like to improve the language to become more intimate with the kids in the house and the people …
HELENA: With a car!