I knew about EVS opportunity since age 26 when I started working in an association of Madrid that send and receive European volunteers. I started as a mentor, then I was responsible and EVS coordinator. So I met CESIE, exchanging volunteers and millions of emails for 4 years.

I always dreamed from my office desk that someday I would live the experience myself before 31 years old, and the dream finally fulfilled: I left my job in Madrid with 30 years old and came to Palermo for 9 months of EVS hosted by CESIE in the Energy + project from April 2016 to January 2017. In it, we are 6 volunteers from Latvia, Serbia, Greece, Slovenia, France and Spain.

We support with our energy and ideas the shelters centres for undocumented migrants arriving on Sicilian shores. We launched a campaign #BeTheOne to encourage young migrants to participate in workshops to improve their skills while waiting for a residence permit. We work as a team preparing workshops at CESIE office. I’ve being involved in some of the local projects Arte Migrante Palermo, Meditarraneo Antirazzista, Buskers Festival, but there are many social initiatives in Palermo! It’s a very active city living a very important moment of transformation thanks to the young local people who are fighting for a better city

We deepened on the current situation of migration in Sicily, the political and human aspects. We also learned Italian language and the traditional Sicilian culture, the history of the region and its actual multicultural reality.

In my case, given my previous experience, I also support Erasmus + KA2 projects  and I learn every day about management thanks to the wonderful CESIE team and its trajectory in Erasmus + programmes and not only.

I realised that the EVS experience is connected with your deepest motivations and not everybody is prepared to go out of the comfort zone, facing other languages, habits, changing their life style and adapt to a new culture. In my case, I prepared myself for EVS during 6 years and I really feel I had the best EVS experience, even better than all those good things I expected.

I can say that the EVS has given me a lot in these 9 months in Palermo, but also in the last 6 years of my life and has defined me professionally and personally.

Paula Alonso Vazquez