Program, akce: Evropský sbor solidarity (ESC) — skupinová dobrovolná služba (30 dní)
Termín konání: 12. červen—12. červenec 2023
Místo konání: Bergolo, Itálie
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Hostitelská organizace: Associazione Vagamondo
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The story starts in April when I saw a post on Instagram about a Summer volunteering project in the Italian countryside (a small village called Bergolo ), I read the info pack and it painted beautiful imageries of summer camp projects that included different types of activities (tree house building, organization and management of public events in the village, cooking, summer school activities and weeding around the village ) and I decide to apply, To my surprise I received my approval letter after having a couple of interviews and I start packing for my one-month summer adventure.
this was my first volunteering experience in Europe and knowing that it was founded by the European solidarity corps my expectations were high, The first night was rough after a full day of traveling we were surprised that the camping area that is supposed to be our home for the entirety of the project isn’t equipped to handle strong weather, the next few days 6 volunteers out of 18 managed to get temperature appropriate sleeping bags and thicker mats that are more suitable for uneven surfaces, I wasn’t one of those volunteers but lucky for me my tent mate was which meant that am getting an extra matt and sleeping bag ( I slept like a baby after that).
It’s fair to say that my first week wasn’t the best start, we were informed on our first plenary meeting that we were no longer going to build tree houses or have summer school festive activities with Italian kids (two of the activities that I was excited about) instead we were going to have other tasks, I chose to be part of the kitchen team as my first task on this project and the least I can say about it is that it was challenging, having to cook for 18 people with different dietary habits and on a limited budget was not a walk on the park however after cooking the first two days we managed to get the hang of it, which set the paste for the next couple of days .and even gave me enough experience to guide and help the new kitchen teams each week on their first day (something I will always be proud of myself about).
On my second week, I joined the weeding team, making the stone trail leading to the theatre weed free.
It was a welcomed change, I enjoyed being outside in the field doing simple labor work despite the heat, it didn’t require any set of hard skills but seeing the work as it was close to finishing gave me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, I also joined the team responsible for organizing the concerts ( by organizing I mean setting chairs and presenting refreshments to the audience by the end of the evening ) it was a lovely experience that allowed me to attend two concerts held in the theatre and get accounted with the locals and hear their feedback about the work we are doing in Bergolo.
The last two weeks were the most fun, the task become more diverse with adding a media team responsible for creating a short movie about this project, and other tasks like making signs to put around the village and restoration of an abandoned fitness trail, we also had other fun activities in the schedule with different seminars that were organized by both long and short term volunteers, energizers every morning before work and secret a friend mail service that quickly took over our daily conversations.
Bergolo was a truly magical place where everyone felt welcomed. There was something incredibly serene about the village, lush green pastures, and peaceful stone trails to take you through the village; complete with colorful and creative artistic creations that are in every corner, the comfort of knowing that we are working to change this place for the better contributed to the harmony and the kinship of volunteers creating a space for acceptance and friendship to flourish. I learned an extraordinary amount during my time there, mostly from the people around me in my free time. I played cards, played table tennis, danced, watched the sunset; listening to impeccable music, or cycling around the nearby villages.
One thing that became clear to me during this experience is volunteering in a multicultural community requires plenty of work, adaption, lot of self-reflection, and patience but it is also allowed me to create memories and connections that I will cherish for a long time.
Volunteering Summer Fest 2 was a Team Volunteering project implemented in Bergolo, Italy from the 12th June till the 12th July 2023 by @Associazione Vagamondo. It was funded by the European Solidarity Corps programme through @Agenzia Nazionale Giovani. Get more info about volunteering abroad here: https://europa.eu/youth/