Let`s do it volunteers 2 – Johanna Reinvald – 11 Months Volunteering in Mussomeli, Sicily – Italy
My name is Johanna Reinvald and i am a volunteer from Estonia. I had the pleasure of working in Arcistrauss that is located in Italy, Sicily, Mussomeli. The project was 11 months “short” and with that time, i had many different activities that included participating in the life of Mussomeli, helping the organisation work smoothly and the people connected to it.
What did i actually do in Sicily?
Because my project was 11 months, then my activities were connected with everything my organisation was working on. My first months were about working with difabled people. I went to a facility that was creating everyday activities for them and i tried to help them with that, as much as possible. I made music circles and a crafting workshop. Mainly i just helped the everyday life there, go as smoothly as possible.
One of my main projects was also going to a children`s home. There i helped children with their everyday activities, like homework, cleaning the house, hygiene, eating. Also teaching them basic things: braiding hair, english language, juggling. And I tried to be a support for the workers there by making food,setting up tables, changing diapers, puttings children to sleep, cleaning the house ect.
My favorite part about my project was giving english lessons and creating a conversation club. I started going to different schools for different age groups and with different volunteers. At first, it seemed really scary to think about teaching a language that is not actually my mother tongue but it turned out really good. In schools, i gave support to the english teachers by preparing classes and also giving them. I helped children with their homework and went on field trips with the school. Working with youngsters gives me a lot of inspiration for making videos and pictures. Teachers that i was working with were all really nice and appreciated our work with them. i learned a lot about myself and of course about teaching.
English conversation clubs were always fun, because there we had totally free hands about what we can do. We really connected with all the kids, that we met almost everyday and they became a part of our family. They gave us italian lessons and we teached them english – “TANEM”. With them we looked over basic grammar, talked about our lives and point of views, watched videos and played games. It was all really fun and something to look forward to.
One of the most life changing experiences was definitely working in Arcipark with the whole household and some of our students. During 2 weeks, we went to Arcipark every day. We started our days picking up trash that was left there after we had left. For me, this was extremely disrespectful and showed the maximum level of ignorance. In the park, we also did a lot of dragging, stripping and painted the fences.
Thanks to this activity, i really started thinking and researching about the environment. It also gave me a lot of motivation and inspiration to keep on working on this problem, through my whole EVS.
We visited Arcipark many times after these weeks. We had workshops there about raising awareness about garbage and recycling. It really made me feel like we are bringing together a community for a mutual goal.
Was there anything else?
I found my interest in photography and video making in Sicily. Thanks to other volunteers and Arcistrauss, i had an opportunity to start testing it out. Arcistrauss proviced me with a camera and other volunteers gave me some good tips on how to start with my new hobie. They also gave me a lot of inspiration and let me take pictures of them.
My media projects were for social media – Instagram and youtube, where i made (not only me 😀 ) pictures and videos to introduce Arcistrauss, Arcihouse and Erasmus +. We also made videos about intercultural topics.
In september, i celebrated my birthday in a really different way – at an archeological summer camp named Kalat. This camp was in a city named Campobello, and we traveled there with 4 other volunteers from Arcistrauss. We expected to find more people but turned out that we were the only ones, so we got the full attention from the organizers. In this camp, we learned how to look for archeological “rocks”; how to classify differences between roman, greek, medieval and arabic rocks, which also told us a lot about Sicilian history. The organizers liked and trusted us, so they gave us an opportunity to contribute to the archaeological work. In this camp we were doing both office work and physical work on the fields. They also teached us how to cook sicilian food and gave insight information about sicilian lifestyle.
In october, Arcistrauss was invited to take part in an 4 day immigration lecture event – Sabir. It is a festival for raising awareness about problems around Mediterranean. We were staying in a small hotel, at night time and helped with preperation and organizing at day time. All of us had different jobs – giving out fliers, earphones, butting up posters, giving information, bringing food and water. I also got to make videos and practice my language skills (english,italian).
It was certainly the most memorable event with my organisation.
In the middle of my project, the whole volunteer group was invited to help prepare and take part in a Sunday lunch for kids. We made decorations, prepared and gave out food, played games and sang songs with the children, who are not so financially supported.
One of the coolest things we did in the house was our own cultural evening. After meeting 1000 people, who have never heard about Estonia and kept asking ,,Is Estonia in European Union?”, me and my estonian partner in crime – Jaanika, decided to prepare a cultural evening about Estonia. Where we, introduced our culture, food, land and people to Mussomeli youngsters, Arcistrauss members and fellow volunteers.
My thought and feelings about the whole experience
AMAZING!!! I think EVS is something that everybody should do. My household had people from different cultural backgrounds, age groups and personalities, this is what made it so much more interesting. I really feel so lucky about finding this opportunity to meet these people, who will be in my heart forever.
Hope to find myself on a new adventure soon!
This Project was financed by European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme