Probably 15 days are not enough to describe sensations and emotions that I felt and that will resurface all life long after this strange and particular experience, but what it is sure, although recently back home, is that I was really useful and I gave a smile to those who really needed it through one of my most primordial passions: the BICYCLE!

More or less one year ago a friend of mine, not coincidentally a bicyclist, sent me the link of this evs project MANY FACES OF THE BICYCLE that intrigued me for various aspects: mainly I am volunteer since a lot of years and it was a dream of mine to give my help abroad; I am 30 years old so it was my las opportunity to try this coveted experience; I was attracted from the beginning by the geographical area because the hosting organisation is in Romania, a nation situated in a european zone that I visited just a bit some years ago, but I never deeply explored; at last the bike was always for me a life partner that rejoiced my days bringing me everywhere!

Than I did not hesitate so much and after sending the candidature and cognitive interviews and various paperworks I flew to Arad through Timisoara and Bari to plunge me in 10 months of intensive work to promote this extraordinary transport with endless social, economical and ecological virtues!

My team was composed by 6 elements, 3 men and 3 women, from Spain, Portugal, Poland and Estonia; probably among them I was the crazyest in relation to the bikes, but all of us were motivated to carry forward a common speech in a serious way because each of us were strongly attached to the bicycle and the promotion of healthy lifestyle.

Starting from November of past year after the presentations among us and with the hosting organization and the creation of a logo we presented ourselves in local schools and istitutions, describing the group and the single elements of it and showing us available for local commuity to accept all the requests in these 10 months.

The main activities were a weekly event indoor in winter (on cyclettes in a gym) and outdoor in summer that involved local communities of disableds and various young romanians and not that increased their physical fitness and the habit tp bike. The ideation of a simple amatorial online competition that gave prices to aradian people that made the highest number of kilometers each month. The promotion of sport events (Duatlon, Marathon, Tomato Festival) with creation of graphics for posters, flyers, online disclosure and for a special banner assembled on a bike hand made trailebuilt with our hands to make pubblicity of the events in an innovative and stimulating way; the organisation of the competitions being part of the staff team with personal and specific roles, so personally envolved before, during and after the day of the event. The creation of a WIKILOC account, managed by myself, with registration and weekly upload of gps routes for bike of different levels available online, with related descriptions, photos and recommendations about the each route. The realization of a worshop about road safety education (using recycled materials for the instruments) for the local schools to increase in the kids through non-formal methods (drawing of road signs, puzzles, visual-intuitive methods) the responsibility of the respect of basical traffic rules. The kids were in a simulated traffic situation, but the same of real life: they had to recognize the signs and fulfill the right choices in accrodance with law, helped and followed buy our team speaking romanian with them. The participation to an international symposium suugesting to link the city of Arad with eurovelo 11 and 13, part of the international net of bike routes that connect the main european cities. Than I personally took care of a little ciclofficina being available to the bikers that needed simple reparations that I made with basic tools kindly bought by the association; I made a summer camp of 3 days for diasdvantage kids making various sport activities and the school’s workshop; I realised a photo book of the start of a bike competition in Brezoi near Râmnicu Vâlcea.

Than after this long period spent abroad I feel totally realised for being available for a lot of people and to share my previous experience, developing with young people different from me new ideas and putting them concretely into practice in a field bigger than the italian one that I live everyday and noticing important results during a long period of time; than I recommend anybody interested in an experience like this to get involved trying this curious experience giving themselves totally, defying the strangest problems, never giving up, but always believing that the smallest and umblest action without a personal profit or benefit could be useful to make happy disadvantaged people all around the world!

Antonio,

volunteer within the EVS project “Many faces of the bicycle”