Before coming to Palermo I had heard all about EVS, that it is a party, you know a lot of people around the world, is one of the best experiences of life … Everything I had heard proved true In my third month in Palermo, with just two months of completing my project I decided to stop and make a personal reflection on what I learned and how I’m taking advantage. Here there are a few lines.
I begin by InformaGiovani, my hosting association. My first impression is that it is a bit chaotic. I do not know if it is Italy or Sicily or why … but the truth is that I have not yet clear who works here or what is the role of each. They are going through bad times, (like almost all sectors related to social, volunteering …) I think there’s only one person hired, the others are all volunteers who work sporadically, so it is very difficult to understand how it works, who does what … They have a lot of work, little money, the future of the association is unknown … Volunteering in troubled times.
Yet it is very nice that so many people here working without asking anything in return. We are a generation that lives under the shadow of the crisis and these people, almost all former volunteers, this work captivated them and now they try to juggle their studies or their jobs with collaborations for InformaGiovani. Do not worry about their future; they care about the future of us all.
Before coming I had also heard that volunteering can change your life, after a volunteer you can not make a normal life … So for example my roommates: Katya, who was a journalist in Ukraine, made his Volunteer for a year here in Centro Anch’io working with disabled people, now back to Ukraine she is doing volunteer hours in a centre with disabled people. Or my other roommate Sasha that while volunteering over 3 years ago still lives here because she was hooked on this. Monica, my mentor (the best), began as the official mentor volunteers arriving in Palermo, now she do it not for money but for pleasure.
As for my life as a volunteer, my daily tasks, as I said, this partnership is a bit chaotic, so I can have both one day to do one thing as another, but I like it. I do not like routine so I’m delighted: From making the placement for InformaGiovani fields will volunteer this summer, sitting at the computer and answering emails in the office, one day I can help both a move as helping a leader training, participate in an international exchange, or clean a public garden on a voluntary minicamp …
Certainly my favourite task is the English course we do for youngs in restorative justice programs. Before I start volunteering, in Tenerife I gave private French classes and I loved it, so I like to share my experience and some tips and tricks with the rest of “volunteer teachers”. It’s very light, just games, role playing, numbers, colours … We only do one day a week for two hours, and the truth is it’s a bit silly because we always think about interesting activities that capture their attention, suitable for different levels of English we have in the group, we have to be prepared to have a day just two students and seven next week … But I love it. All students who we have are lovely, it’s really nice feel to connect with them, they tell their stories and you see how they are maturing, how they want to deal with a better future, how interested in learning English … A particular case, Marco, a boy who was not at all motivated, come to class and was always with mobile, tablet, watching the clock, wondering if I could go to the bathroom, smoking … A couple of weekends ago we made a voluntary minicamp, it was the end of a training leader and it was fun. We went with our students and we were cleaning a public garden in Alcamo with leader training participants who were Icelandic, Croatian, Greek, Spanish … Marco connected very well with a Greek guy and a Croatian boy with whom I do not know how they pulled all day talking. The other day when we did the course this guy came up with a list of vocabulary in English and Italian that had written the Greek and the Croatian guys … Marco was speaking English, helping others, answering all our questions … It was incredible, it was not our Marco anymore!
To me of course that volunteering is also changed the way I look at life. It’s funny how you can find so many diverse and share your dreams, your ideals, discover you do not need internet to live, it does not matter if you have to share a bedroom, which with 260 € you can reach by month end doing interesting things every day, I realized that many of the things I thought are not necessary at all, and that the most important are the people, all the people you help, all the people I have known and which in some so have left a mark on me, in my way of thinking, being, acting, in my expectations of the future, to realize how each day you have to try to improve and surpass himself.
So I would definitely encourage anyone who is hesitating to sign up for volunteering. Now the world needs us more than ever