Any change is a new challenge, and there is no development without changes. Doing a European Volunteering Service (EVS) means to open a window to a new experience.
Let’s see this experience as a window. A window to a new world: enjoy it, learn from it and take this experience with you.
It was six months ago when I flew from Barcelona to Palermo. Honestly, before coming to Sicily for a 9-month EVS project at CESIE, I didn’t know much about Sicilian culture, a part from some films or books on Mafia phenomenon. However, I discovered that Palermo is a really open and intercultural city, crowded with volunteers and friendly communities strongly connected to Sicilian context. Palermitani have a secret: they can easily make you feel at home. Palermo is a city where people love to be in the streets and share their cultural heritage. You might find yourself sipping a beer with some friends and sharing the table with strangers, and, after a while, talking with them about your life as if they were your childhood friends. When you feel comfortable in your new city and context, you have opened up half of that window.
The other half is related to your project. I am taking part in “Able Like You III” together with other 5 colleagues. The aim of the project is to work with local cooperatives, in my case Edificando, which takes care of disabled adults. Spending time and working with disabled people almost on a daily basis helped me realise that our society forces us to live at an unnatural pace. Unfortunately, due to our limited perspectives, we are losing a lot of valuable things which only disabled people can show us and remind us of. A smile, a conversation about their weekend or a hug when you say goodbye can make your day!
Moreover, I also wanted to have the opportunity of working with migrant communities in Palermo. Luckily I had the chance to be part of Centro Astalli. It is a reception centre for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers which offers different services such as language courses, bazars, health and legal supports, amongst others. Working in a place as the one I have just described helps you see a new landscape out of your window. Talking with people, listening to them and observing their life can introduce you to one of our biggest challenges as a society: being human amongst other humans. Moreover you can grow professionally thanks to the experiences of the people who started working in the centre long time ago.
At this point I believe the window we talked about in the beginning is wide open. However, this window won’t open by itself; it needs strong arms. These arms some days will be stronger than others. Be active, independent, flexible, and open-minded; remember that your choices will give them the strength to keep that window open. All in all, volunteers are responsible of what they make out of their EVS experience, so be aware of what you are doing and keep up your motivation.
So, open your window even if it might be rainy sometimes!
Judit Sanchez, Able Like You III EVS Volunteer