- 3 July 2017
- Posted by: Team for Youth Association
- Category: Volunteering Stories
Ciao!! My name is Madalina and I am from Romania. Currently I am volunteering in Sciacca Italy, at Istituto Walden in a project called “Act social, think global” in the social/educational field. Basically, I am a social educator in an organisation dedicated to abused children from families with difficulties. I have just finished the ninth month of the project and I have 3 more to go. I am 30 years old so I guess this was my last chance to participate in an EVS project.
I think this project just “followed” me. I wasn’t necessary interested in doing EVS; in December 2015 I just saw a post on Facebook – volunteering in Sicily with abused children;
I said to myself why not?; living on an island, learning Italian and working with children
It was somehow part of my plan to learn all the Latin languages. I applied and was accepted. I was supposed to begin in February 2016 but somehow I didn’t feel it was the right time for me so in the end I turned this opportunity down accepting the fact that maybe I wouldn’t search for another EVS opportunity. But after 8 months, scrolling down my news feed on Facebook I saw this volunteering opportunity again, at a moment when I really wanted to change something professionally and I said: “ Ok, I will apply again and if I am accepted again it means that this project was meant to be”. And so I did and so it was.
My journey began on 4th of October 2016, and not as smooth as I planned it. I had everything under control on how to arrive to my destination on time but Sicily, in its unique way, showed me that here it is better to not have anything planned as in the end the rules are made to be broken. In the end I managed to arrive late in the night in the middle of nowhere sharing a cab from Palermo to Sciacca with 3 other ladies. That “middle of nowhere” in the morning turned out to be a beautiful farm surrounded by huge fields of olive trees and all kind of organic vegetables, with a beautiful sunset and wonderful people managing the farm. It was our home for one week. It was the place where I met the 3 other volunteers with whom I was assigned to do this project and it was the beginning of our journey together, as a family. We had the chance to stay there for a week, getting to know each other better before starting the project.
This blog is dedicated to them, my entire project is dedicated to them. I don’t want to talk about the project itself as it’s pointless to explain something which is difficult to understand when you are not part of it; plus all the children’s stories are too personal.
Back to my family: they are the reason why my stay here is so wonderful. Don’t get me wrong; I like the project (although I think 12 months is too much) I like the children and my colleagues from work, but If I didn’t have them, Pisti from Greece, Raque from Galicia and Maria from Andalucia (my Power Rangers), I think my life here wouldn’t be very easy. Sciacca is a small city, a beautiful one, full of history (like the entire Sicily) and authentic. But culturally it’s a dead city. During the winter you can only survive having some Power Rangers living with you, with whom you can have fun at home, with whom you can travel around Sicily, with whom you can share dinners, laughs, TV shows, similar thoughts and a lot of kind words. You would only see the people on the streets during the Carnival in February when you ask yourself: ”Where have all these people been during these months?”. Then it gets warmer and the city seems more lively, the tourists start to book their trips, the weather seems to be good enough to spend a day at the beach, you start to exercise, eat more healthy, visit other places, but then again… not much social life in this city, besides going to the beach and drinking something at the terrace, watching the sunset, eating “gelato” (I know, it sounds great and it is, but inevitably you feel like you are missing something: open-minded people, music/film festivals, theater, cultural activities in general). So basically all this time it was just the 4 of us.
Our multicultural environment was actually our flat and the trainings where we met the other EVS volunteers from all over the world. I am lucky and I have always been lucky to meet wonderful people on my journey. And in the end, all my experiences abroad were meaningful due to the people and the time I shared with them. To be honest I didn’t think that I could have all this luck all the time, but my adopted Sicilian family proved that you can love and be attached to someone just in an instance.
So I would like to thank them for being always so supportive, easy-going, flexible, pleasant to be around, smart, funny and what is more important ready to leave all the cultural differences aside in order to create our own way of living.
I learned from this experience that I am more patient that I have ever thought (especially working with the children), that I can really adapt to all kind of situations, that people make the place called “home”, that I can start over wherever I want and whenever I feel like something is missing in my life, and that If I really really want something I can get it. I don’t know what is going to change or happen in my professional life after this experience.
I just know that I took the right decision by becoming part of the Erasmus world again, this time as a volunteer. I would like to continue in the social field; somewhere in this big universe, if not now, one day I know I will have my place.