From the outside to my home – Elena Saucă’s testimonial

What kind of attitudes help you to keep up with what you have to do and how did your activity change during this period?” – that’s what Corina from Pro Vobis asked me at the end of March. I decided to share the answer with you, dear reader.

If you are here by chance, welcome, and keep on reading until the end to see where you got! If you are not sure what you want to do next year and international volunteering sounds appealing to you, you are in the right place, because you are just reading an article about an experience like this. Don’t skip any line, as you could miss the best part. And, last but not least, if you happen to be part of the short family called E.S.C.. and you are looking for strategies to call motivation back during this time, you’d better know that I may understand and even help you, so keep reading.

Elena exploring Poland at the beginning of her volunteering experience

It has been six months since I took all my smiles, wishes, ideas and promises towards me, with me, brought them to Warsaw and have them bloom here, along with the beautiful team of European Solidarity Corps volunteers, at the Robert Schuman Foundation. And if I am already hosted, mentored and supported by a lot of wonderful people for half a year already, why not do an exercise of introspection and let you know how this experience has been so far for me and how do I want it to be up until the end of the eleven months mobility?

During this time, I think that each one of us has many challenges to manage and I think that an honest and thorough answer to questions such as those of Corina helps us engage in beneficial actions, both to us and to those around us, in order to smoothly pass this period.
The first answer that came to my mind instantly was: I do not know, I stay home and all the activities I was doing were transferred online. If I look at the situation from the perspective of what I have to do, I cannot say that I have felt a major shift between office work and home work.

As part of those who work at the headquarters, most of my tasks – writing blogs or reports, creating materials for the Foundation’s Facebook page, promoting volunteering or European Union values – can also be accomplished from a distance. And then, what has actually changed with this instant reorganization of our reality? The workspace. If transferring tasks from close range to distance is not a challenge for me, changing the environment is something that has impacted me.
No matter how strange it sounds, I don’t like working from home. And this is not a pandemic whim, I always liked to keep the distance between work and home. What happens in one place, stays there, it is that something I took with me from the Corporation, and which seems useful to me, and I still try to keep it. So what do I do, in this period when there is no space for claims in the sphere of „I do not like, I do not do”?

Although it was complicated in the first week, I tried to make myself a work schedule to follow. While being at home, I work from 9.30 to 16.30 and have my breakfast before, the work day can still start with an English tea. Lunch is still between 13.00 and 14.00 and although it was more complicated at first, all my hobbies are still happening after 17.00.
What was difficult? Or what is still difficult when working or volunteering in the living space (although, from the beginning of the mobility, I treated this experience with the same involvement, the same consistency and the same determination, with which I would treat my dream job)? To find the discipline to finish what I started and not to turn any sound into a disturbing factor. And that’s still a constant challenge. But if I were to think about attitudes, since I stay home, I meet more and more with myself and I have come to understand that I also need moments of laziness, boredom, non-productivity, in order to function and to just simply let all the things be.

Beyond my discipline during this period, for me (as I said at the beginning of mobility), this internship is a kind of sabbatical year that I allowed myself to have and yes, with Coronavirus it became even more atypical. It seems to me, however, that as the months go by, both people and events in my life are becoming smoother, clearer and more beautiful. And when I say „are becoming”, don’t get scared, behind my reflexive way of speaking, there is no intention to personify excessively or to spare me from efforts, there is a kind of calm, quiet, natural, something similar to „I do not want to force things to happen ” that I have chosen – since the second week I have moved here – to live this adventure with. And this attitude is very useful to me, even now. In what way? In several ways actually. It made me realize that I cannot see in others something that does not exist in me, that what I do out of love and passion, with the phone on the airplane mode after 17.00, is an immeasurable source of energy that I need in order to function and helps me keep my own order, it helps me not to easily get anxious about numbers, names or disasters and to invest my resources in actions that are beneficial to others.

If I kept mentioning the others, during this period I was once again shown the power of community and solidarity – in the most complex sense I could ever give it.
The team I am a member of consists of eighteen volunteers, from twelve countries. Solidarity for us is the way we need to work to make the project happen, however, I have never been more aware as I am now, of how big its impact is. And it’s an important comprehension.

All this together motivates me, inspires me and so does the amalgam of positive actions that I see happening around me, in the community, because of this solidarity.
I want to keep this way of moving things, maybe as part of the collective resilience (why not?) also after we have passed this period. It seems to me that this could be part of the antidote and normality, and for the rest of my mobility, I want the triad attitudes-actions-aptitudes, to remain as one of my references in action.

Maybe it’s about me and my values that I have never been more aware of as I am now, or maybe it’s still about the protective bubble I am in (although we are just as exposed to the virus as anyone else), I don’t know; but I know that the power of „together” deserves to be taken with up until the end of the challenge we are going through now – that’s what I am wishing for the rest of my stay here- this and a little spontaneity.

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(a small part of) Krakow through Elena’s eyes