I can still remember how I was looking outside my window on my way to Palermo and I know for a fact that I was feeling absolutely nothing. Maybe something: confusion; I was very confused about not feeling something. The most rational reason is that the global Pandemic probably taught me not to have huge expectations and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine this experience, the joy, the frustration, the changes here in Palermo anyways.
It is strange to write about your own experiences because you change with them. I remember the heat and the hype about the football cup when I arrived; how via Roma seemed like a highway I will never be able to cross. I especially remember the noise and how I couldn’t sleep at night. Now I am cold because like the rest of the city we don’t have heating and I like to be in the direct sun, nobody talks about football and, I expect any car to stop when I walk on the street. I am irritated when a place is silent until realize I am missing the traffic noise. I cannot explain the transition between these two states of myself, like a blurry night sky, and from time to time you find a memory in the light of one star.
Palermo taught me to stand up for myself and have confidence (not just when crossing the street) and once the heat of the summer was gone, I could feel the warmth coming from the people around me. The children at Ubuntu, my lovely flatmates, the other volunteers at the soup kitchen, and even the coffee place around the corner gave me a sense of being welcomed, of belonging.
In this space, I could grow, and having the stability of being a volunteer through the ESC gave me the possibility to explore for the first time in my life fully what I wanted. It was my first time living in a city and my first time taking care of my finances, it was in a way the first time I felt really free in my choices. For this, I am really grateful and eager to explore life even more. Although, Palermo also made me more aware of my privileges whether that was actively initiated like at the Harraga2 Training or by the daily connections that were made. I was confronted with realities as different as the people experiencing them.
Mapping Solidarity changed me, the change is too gradual to really be put into words, I tried to bring it closer to you but now I don’t find much more to say. If you are thinking about applying go for it! Stepping out of your comfort zone will usually result in growth, you might not notice it in the beginning when it’s too hot to think but I promise you once you look at it from a distance all you want to do is to give a big hug to the people that followed you along this path.
Un grande abbraccio,
Volunteer of European Solidarity Corps – ESC
Project: Mapping Solidarity