H20 Mediterranean Diet – Ketly Ilvest and Käti Saar– 2 months volunteering in Greece
Name of the project: H20 Mediterranean Diet
Date: 05.07.2023 – 02.09.2023
City/Country: Arnea, Greece
Hosting organization: United Societies of Balkans
I am Ketly from Saaremaa, Estonia and I had the greatest opportunity to participate in an ESC volunteering project of H2O Mediterranean diet in a small village of Arnea.
Arnea is a very vivid town located about 70km from Thessaloniki. It is the most traditional town of Halkidiki, and has been designated by the Ministry of Culture as a “Historic Site”. It is built to a semicircular plan at the foot of Mount Holomontas, at an altitude of 600m, in a lush landscape with forests and flowing waters.
We were a team of internationals from all over Europe and Greece. Living together with 8 other people was hard but fun, especially cooking.
In the project we painted ball fields, fences and benches, organized tournaments and movie nights, worked on a cookbook and videos.
Our favorite activities were the movie nights where we could socialize with the local children.
In our free time we had fun on the beaches and ate the town’s delicious food. We also had the opportunity to enjoy the local festival and for that we learned some traditional dances and songs.
I am more than happy to have gotten this amazing chance to experience volunteering in such a way that will always be memorable. I will forever recommend all of you to take part in this kind of project, no matter if it is 2 months or a year.
From July to September, for almost two months, I took part of a group volunteering project in Greece which was mainly focused on Mediterranean food culture as well as on sports. In the international team we had paticipants from France, Latvia, Germany, Ukraine and Estonia, plus around 10 Greek volunteers from nearbly areas.
All the volunteers were splitted into four groups: one organized movie nights, one planned sports events, one made a cookbook of dishes from the six countries we had participants from and later a video about few Greek dishes, and one team made posters for the events. Additionally, we spent many days painting (for example benches and fences), made a presentation about Mediterranean food culture and helped with some bigger events that took place in our village Arnea.
The work we did was nothing too difficult, but really allowed us to settle in and get to know the place and it’s people. As Arnea is a relatively small village (around 2000 inhabitants), everyone knew we were there for a voluntary project. In general, Greeks are truly welcoming and sociable. It is lovely to see people smiling on the streets and greeting almost everyone, including us, foreigners.
My favourite part of the experience is people, which comes as a surprise to me, because I have always been more on the introverted side. Those past two months spent sharing a household with eight more people and a room with two other volunteers challenged me with a lack of privacy and constant company. Although it wasn’t enjoyable all the time, I adjusted with the situation and learnt to see bigger value in human relations. Together we had adventures I would never have on my own, and I’m thankful for this.
This Project was financed by European Commission’s European Solidarity Corps Programme.