Life after EVS – Elisabetta Bonizzi

Elisabetta is an former EVS volunteer in Team for Youth Association. She came to Romania for a project called ”Jiggle Juggle” and during her stay she was working with children from the hospital and centers for institutionalized children and she also held intercultural events related to Italy.

Part of her project was to learn about animation techniques and non-formal education as well as to improve her English. She was kind enough to provide us with a short feedback of her ”life after EVS”. Here is her experience back home.

Elisabetta Bonizzi (ITA):

At the beginning it is not easy coming back home after the EVS project. You feel confused, you feel that your life is a bit empty, you’re so happy to see again your old friends and at the same time you miss your EVS friends. You miss your activities, your apartment and your everyday life… even the „bad coffee”! You miss everything!

Let’s specify: my project was a short-term volunteering service. Two months in Baia Mare, Romania. I did volunteering abroad some other times. The most significant experience was three years ago, in Barcelona, where I stayed for 12 months. But it was different, because that was not really a volunteer program and we did not have a real intercultural environment (I was the only volunteer of the organization). Nor did we have a structured schedule that included moments of reflection on how it was going on my experience.

For me it was like that in the beginning. But after a while I started to remember small and big goals that I had in my mind when I was still deeply involved into EVS and I thought: “What will I do when I get home?”. So I stopped watching obsessively pictures on Facebook of my EVS friends and I began to look for do something here, in Italy.

The post-EVS was a meeting to talk about the achievement of objectives, the level of satisfaction of us, the volunteers, and to discuss about the opportunities that we have after finishing a period of volunteering abroad. We were around 15 people, most have done projects in Mexico and South America (Brazil and Bolivia) and were there for a very long period (10-12 months). During this meeting, I realized that conditions of some of the projects have been very hard compared to my experience (especially in Bolivia), while others were so happy that they wanted to come back to live there (especially in Mexico). We ended the meeting with a little “Aperitivo” to stay together and continue to talk and share travel experiences.

In EVS program I had a pre-departure training and a post-EVS meeting, at the JOINT office, my sending organization.

Another cool thing after my EVS project was to be able to meet in Milan some people related to my time in Romania: a boy from my hosting organization came to Milan to go to a meeting in Genova we met and spent some good time together visiting the city. Another boy, Italian volunteer in Arad and good friend of mine, came to my city and he supported me searching for a job. He came with me around many restaurants to hand my CV. We spent all the afternoon around visiting a lot of restaurants, I left tones of CV and finally…somebody called me from a restaurant to start working. They were impressed that I knew many foreign languages, including Spanish and Romanian! To start working soon it was important for me, to have a little money to be more independent from my family. To see again some people who have been part of my life in Romania was good for me, it makes me feel a sort of “continuity” and not as if I just lived in a big bubble for two months, with no connection with my life in my hometown. This makes me feel as if something started during EVS project and now it’s my turn to take it forward, to carry on this “positive attitude” in my life.

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During my EVS project I realized that I want to be an artist and educator. And so now I started some projects about Theater for Kids and I’m making some interesting job interviews.

If I think to myself now I feel more tolerant, open-minded, conscious and self-confident. I feel able to collaborate, but also to do things alone. I feel I have lower level of prejudices about foreigners who live and work in Italy, also because I’ve lived (and ”worked”) abroad and I’ve met people from many countries. When I talk about people from different cultures, I don’t speak in general, but I talk about people that I know and I can make some concrete examples.

I know that I want to be independent and free as much as I can, but freedom is hard work and we have to cultivate it every day!