Colors and emotions of Sicilian spirit, my ESC experience

Friday 30 September 2022

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The decision to participate in an ESC volunteering came to me in a really short time. First, the thought of it appeared, then the words and the decision of doing it. So, the question was What and Where – even though I didn’t have an idea about the where.

Part of the answer I knew. I wanted to help, in any way possible, the people in a tricky socio-economic situation. Pretty soon, I found out about a short-term volunteering opportunity in Palermo, whose main activities were oriented toward what-part of the answer. I applied for it, excited to direct my time in a meaningful way.

I spent my days in Palermo volunteering at CESIE with different target groups, including kindergarten children, feeling their playfulness in the trees, near the turtles of the Garibaldi Garden. Smiles and silly faces were the ultimate expression of children’s interest, stronger than language differences.

I also carried out activities in the premises of a soup kitchen, where the homeless of Palermo can receive a freshly cooked meal, a shower and temporary shelter. Cooking and sharing my food always bring me joy so I was happy to be involved in a food preparation process. That place gave me the honor of chopping the biggest amounts of carrots and onions in my life, but knowing that they will help in filling empty stomachs of people in need compensated for every onion-caused tear.

Third activity was held in a schoolyard of Regina Margherita. We were volunteering in a language learning activity there, named “Tandem”. It can be described as a relaxed, interesting experience mainly based on talking with high schoolers who wanted to get better in their English (and Spanish). It was also an opportunity for us, volunteers, to pick up on Italian language.

Two months went by really fast. The hottest part of summer spent in Palermo gave me a unique experience of many different cultures in one place. Aesthetics of the city filled with different life stories, beautiful faces and colorful expressions of the cultures made an imprint on my soul. The imprint was deepened by interactions with target groups of volunteering activities and its texture was even richer thanks to the other beautiful volunteers with whom I shared my living area and volunteering hours.

To be honest, we shared much more than that. We shared a similar, yet diverse cultural background, with its happiness and worries. We shared excitement and uncertainty of the future. We shared walks and talks in the streets of Palermo, beautiful sounds of street musicians and jazz, swims and sand on the beaches, as well as the joy of desired summer rain.

This valuable experience was like Palermitan fireworks – bold, intense, loud and colorful. I grateful that I had an opportunity to impact positive changes and to BE there for the people of Palermo, for roommates and for myself.

Matea Buckal

Volontaria ESC – Mapping solidarity 2020

Youth Unit