I am not sure what I did expect from my ESC (European Solidarity Corps) project in Palermo, but it definitely exceeded all possible expectations. My experience started with a warmly welcome by my mentor, who helped me getting around during the first days. I did not need much time to feel at ease in the city; maybe it was a love at first sight thing. Palermo is an incredibly beautiful city and has a lot to offer. It is very lively and personal, as you get to know a lot of people very fast. The contact with the other volunteers has been great and it has been nice to be able to share the experience with others.
I worked in a centre, there they provide different services for migrants and refugees. For me, coming from the north of Europe, it was very special to experience the situation with migrants in the Mediterranean area up close. Centro Astalli is an amazing organisation and the people who work there (all volunteers) literally dedicate their lives to help these persons. The work they do is extremely important and for a lot of people they are the only point of reference in society. During my 9 months of working experience at the center, I got to meet the most beautiful people and I learned so many things.
Moreover, I also participated in a linguistic tandem at a high school in Palermo. The idea behind this is a mutual language exchange, where both parties learn from each other. The tandem was held in Italian and English. I really enjoyed this project, I enjoyed talking to the students. Besides, I also participated in a film making project called “REC – Reflect Experiment Capture Experimental Filmmaking to Prevent Violence and Empower Disadvantaged Young People”, where we focused on expressing certain complex concepts (forms of violence) in a creative way, in order to be easily understandable for everyone. I particularly enjoyed participating in this project, because I learned many things within a field I knew relatively little about. It was cool to experience how to use a form of art to draw the attention to certain problems in today’s society. Altogether, I am happy that volunteers get the opportunity to participate in different projects. This results in many different experiences and one learns from each and everyone of those.
To summarize, I can say that my experience corresponds exactly with what I was looking for and what I hoped to find. I practiced the Italian language, I experienced social work with migrants and I got to know amazing people from all over the world. Palermo will always have a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to go back.
Thank you CESIE and everyone who contributed to making my experience unforgettable.
Tosca Van Hoorde
European Solidarity Corps volunteer – Project: Mapping Solidarity