Volunteering koinè: keep on including natural expression – Jaanika Orav – 8 Months Volunteering in Mussomeli, Sicily – Italy
My name is Jaanika and I did my European Voluntary Service in Sicily for 8 months. I had the most wonderful opportunity to work in Mussomeli in an organisation called Arcistrauss. During my not-so-long eight months, I worked mainly with difabled (differently abled) people in my hosting organisation and with youngsters and adults in my coordinating organisation.
So… what did I do during my project?
My main project was in an association called Casa Famiglia Rosetta. Casa Rosetta is an organisation that works with people who have mental and physical disabilities, through drama methods and also using crafting and decorating ceramics as one of the tools. My main activity there was to decorate ceramics and after they could sell those for having profit for NGO. While working in this association I learned a lot about acceptance, being happy about small things, sharing small but full of love moments and enjoying life in the way that I have it. These people showed me love and life in a different ways.
After Casa Rosetta, I usually had English lessons with local people. My classes variated from having private lessons to having big group lessons. The students were from age 12-45. I used a lot non-formal education methods, for example watching movies, Tedx Talks, playing games, doing discussion activities ect. During these lessons I learned a lot about English, I structured it more in my head and I also learned how to use non-formal education methods as one of the tools in learning process.
During spring time volunteers started to clean up Arci park that Arcistrauss has. Our main goal there was to clean the park from trash and long grass so it could be used as a public area after. We also discussed how to involve local community so they could also benefit from having cleaner and beautiful town park. While cleaning this park, I realized how complicated it is to do something for the community without involving them in the process. This means that if I want to make an impact or change something in the community, I have to involve the members.
During my holiday times I found myself travelling around Sicily and out of it. I really love spending time in nature and discovering new places. With my fellow Estonian – Johanna, we travelled around Palermo, to Agrigento for camping, greek temples and Turkish wall and the biggest trip was to Budapest. During other times I went to Tarapani for the beautiful architecture and sea, to Catania for culture, to Syracusa for greek streets, to Taormina for wonderful views and the highlight of Sicily was climbing Etna. The fun side of it that I could do all of this with my pocket money, so it’s possible to do and go anywhere when you put your mind to it.
In my free time I re-found my passion for music and I started to practice more guitar that Arcistrauss gave us as a present for Christmas. It gave me a lot of pleasure and I could develop my creative side.
My feelings and thoughts about the experience
I loved every moment of it! There were a lot of educational experiences that expanded my way of thinking, gave it new perspectives and taught how to be more open minded. I think that every person should go through an experience like this, they would have chance to meet new people with different backgrounds, be in new cultural situations and see the everyday life of local people. This all gives us an opportunity to understand world better 🙂
My project has been over for quite some months already and now it’s time to move on. But how to do that or what to do next? I feel like it had a huge impact to my life, I met so many good people who showed me kindness, love and curiosity for life, I learned about their lifestyles, culture and values. They gave me a lot so I have a feeling that I should also pass my knowledge to others.
My plan is to keep on going to have different adventures for me to keep developing my mind and soul!
This Project was financed by European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme