My name is Eva, I am 20 years old and I come from Estonia. I arrived to Palermo in November 2018 for an EVS project called “Connection”. This project has been developed by Per Esempio Onlus and is focused on the reduction of early school leaving, the support for local and migrant families who don’t have access to public childcare services and the creation of laboratories for women to strengthen their parental and creative skills.
I decided to participate in this project for different reasons: to learn, to enhance my skills, to help and to experience. A big part of my decision on choosing this project was the location, Italy. I knew for a long time that the Italian culture, people and language are things that I really want to learn about. In addition to this, I wanted to find out more about myself. Before participating in this project, I was working as a waitress. It was a good job but I knew that I wouldn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I needed to figure out what direction to take when thinking about my future. I have a strong need to feel helpful, any way, shape or form. Just sitting around, while everyone else does the work, is not something I am easily capable of doing. This experience is teaching me about myself, how well I can work and live with people from foreign countries and prepare me for the future.
What I have achieved so far, while participating in this project, is how to live with people other than your family. Mutual respect and cooperation is very needed, if you live with volunteers who all have their different backgrounds, habits and goals. One of the greatest achievements in my eyes, is speaking and understanding Italian. I may not be fluent yet, but things like that take time. Something that I have to work on, but that has already increased a lot, is my courage and confidence to communicate with new people, especially when it comes to doing that in Italian. From a professional point of view, I am learning how to carry out different creativity-boosting activities for the children (e.g. “5 senses” laboratory in Il Giardino di Madre Teresa) as well as help teenagers with English in Santa Chiara, a place where students from different schools come to concentrate on their homework and receive help when needed.
I would strongly suggest people to participate in any volunteering project, the longer it lasts, the better. Living in another country and being helpful at the same time will expand your horizons, teach you about different cultures and people, help you figure out answers to questions you’ve been asking yourself along with contributing to the community.
If I only had to use three words to describe my experience in Palermo, they would be: different, enlightening, courageous.