“From 20th January to 20th July last year, after having successfully passed a selection process for an EVS project, I stayed in Beaulieu, a small village located in the southern English county of Hampshire. So I want to give my own account of my experience at Countryside Education Trust (CET), a Non-Profit Organization established in 1975 and situated deep in the New Forest. It deals with environmental and cultural education, offering its users – mainly children, youngsters, adults and families – the opportunity to know and interactively experience the environmental and cultural background (history, art and traditions) of the territory.

The staff – made up of 16 full-time workers, 1 European volunteer and 127 local volunteers, alternating during the year – assists you in various activities done in the residential centre – where the farm and the garden are found – or at the cutting-edge Treehouse Study Centre, with its distinctive architectural structure and a wide availability of working tools. The CET also provides guided visits to museums and other interesting places in the village – whose origins go back to the 11th century –, such as its palaces and abbeys, or the famous National Motor Museum, etc.

Having drawn the attention of schools from all the central southern England is a great success for the CET, as such schools organize weeks of stay for their students.

This experience, in its several aspects, has made me think that some more investments in activities based on present resources – as it is in Beaulieu – are necessary where we live, and that this can lead to new employment and developmental opportunities.

I could say many other things about the incredible experience I lived, focusing on its value in terms of personal and cultural enrichment. I will never forget the people I met, the difficulties I encountered and overcome, the places I visited, the odours and colours. I will never forget what my flatmates told me every time I was in trouble: «Antonella, rise to the challenge!», giving me the courage I needed. I am very happy I listened to them, because only if you get involved and keep insisting, you can grow up and become stronger”.