In December 2021, I left for France, bound for Bordeaux, for a short-term volunteer experience in the European Solidarity Corps.
In my suitcase, a great desire to discover cultures and realities different from my own and the desire to get involved in solidarity activities in another country.
I was welcomed by the members from the Maison des Bateleurs in Montendre, a small village in the south-west of France. Five long-term volunteers from other European countries, a French coordinator were present on my arrival in a very welcoming atmosphere.
This less-touristy area of France is rich in tradition and culture, and the rhythm of life runs in harmony with that of nature. International and French volunteers live at the Maison and local people are also involved in the association on a daily basis. It is the exchange of experiences and skills that sustains the group, which works together without social, cultural and intergenerational barriers. We live together and do activities together.
The seasonal cycles of vegetable cultivation are respected, the resources of the garden are used for food, and the house where we live is kept in working order, with restoration work if necessary. The project in which we are involved is aimed at stimulating new dynamics of sharing in rural areas, respecting the environment and human beings, with the awareness that this is a great value. My experience here is very rewarding, the daily routine creates bonds with the other boys and girls, sometimes you have to put yourself to the test to overcome moments of insecurity, but there is always someone to ask for advice. Life together goes by fast, there are so many activities we are involved in during the day and we never stop.
The time scheduled for my volunteering experience has now ended, but to my great pleasure the project leader proposed me to continue the experience as a long-term volunteer and I accepted it immediately. I will stay at Maison des Batelurs until the end of September 2022. In the coming months, other boys and girls from all over the world will join us. Sharing spaces makes it possible to make immediate friends and daily life shows the strength and beauty of differences.
In these months I have learned a lot about permaculture, and I still have a lot to learn. I have had the opportunity to travel to France and make friendships that will grow in the future and will certainly continue after this project is completed. I have been able to immerse myself in the fascinating reality of a part of France that I did not know, to discover its culture, traditions and way of life.
I had a great opportunity, that of seeing the changes that this experience is producing on others and especially on me.
Volunteer of European Solidarity Corps – ESC
Project: Mapping Solidarity