Volunteering Stories: ”Volunteering during COVID-19” by Anqi

My name is Anqi and I’m from China, but I have lived in Italy for 12 years, where I received education till the end of secondary school, when I went to the UK and started my undergraduate degree.

Now, I have just finished my first year of university and I decided to volunteer in Romania with the purpose to not waste my holiday time and contribute my effort to help the development of societies. However, due to the recent global health crisis, it’s a quite hard time to find a volunteering program. European Solidarity Corps offered me this opportunity to become an international volunteer in Romania, Baia Mare.

“Should I go to Romania? Are Romanian friendly? Will they call me “corona”? ”, these are the questions that troubled me before departing. I think the worries that the most part of people have before going to Romania are about personal safety and issues related to the development of the country. But, I never think stereotypes represent the reality and I strongly believed that the country will be different as common imaginary. With this belief in mind, I went to Baia Mare and the city surprised me. People are actually very kind, friendly and enthusiastic and the city is clean, quiet and very green with a lot of trees. It’s completely different from the stereotype! Although the city buildings and the facilities are not that developed compared to other European countries, they don’t influence a normal lifestyle.

Now, coming back to my worries said before, it happened one-time local teenagers, who are during their “rebellious period”. But apart from that, the most part of Romanians are very nice and the stereotype reflects only a small group of people. Besides, once the behavior of a child, from a summer camp where I was teaching Italian, touched me.

It was the first week of my camp and suddenly a child asked me “Are you the carrier of corona-virus?”. Doubtless, I answered, “No, I’m not”. Afterwards, the child hugged me tightly while smiling, and since then every time that I was in the camp, she run to call my name and hug me.

Regarding my project, it’s called DO IT!. Initially, the aim of the project was to assist foreign language teachers in the local middle school. Yet, the recent pandemic changed everything. Currently, the schools are closed and our project changed its plan. I have started to teach the Italian language every week with a small group of people in the office. Meanwhile during other activities both administrative tasks and concerning the promotion of European Solidarity Corps. Moreover, I started, with other volunteers of the same project, a summer camp in collaboration with a local NGO, called Sacro Cuore. My main task is to teach children the Italian language by playing funny games. I really enjoyed it since it taught me how to interact properly with the children, explain to them well the rules and to improvise according to the situation.

In summer 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic I did a long volunteering project in Baia Mare. I think it will be a unique experience that I will remember for my whole life.

The volunteer is hosted by Team for Youth Association in the DOIT! project, on a 4 months Solidarity Corps project in Baia Mare. The content of this testimonial does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. The responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article rests entirely with the author.