Centrul Național de Resurse pentru Voluntariat

My volunteering ESCapade – Elena Saucă’s testimonial

Almost three months have passed since I finished one of the most complex, and complete ESCapades so far, and as time goes by, the experience becomes more and more valuable. And that’s why I decided to put it into words- maybe it will inspire you to act where you are.

First of all, I think it’s worth remembering that my ESC Project took place in Warsaw – at the Robert Schuman Foundation where for eleven months I was involved as a volunteer of the European Solidarity Corps in activities through which together with other seventeen volunteers from eleven countries – I promoted the values of the European Union – both in the local community and at the headquarters of the Hosting Organization. We organized events on various topics, workshops through which we presented the culture of our home countries and we promoted volunteering and its benefits. And from this point of view, the experience was full of learning contexts.

Some moments from Elena’s volunteering experience

Then, as the whole adventure lasted almost a year, I had enough time to learn more about the culture, history and art of the hosting country and even to learn a bit of Polish– many times it happened to start my workshop about Romania with a brief introduction about me in Polish and so part of the language barriers disappeared and curiosity and active listening appeared. Also, many times after the workshops, the students were eager to show us the surroundings and share more about the local community. So, a simple journey for a forty-five minutes presentation became a great memory, and we (my colleague Hannes-from Austria and I, traveled together, until the outbreak of the Pandemic, in eight out of sixteen regions of Poland. More than six hundred students have been involved in our workshops) found out about places that as tourists we would never have discovered. One of the activities I will remember for a long time, happened in Wojkowice, at the beginning of March, just before the Pandemic. For three days we joined the students from the technical high school and carried out activities related to the environment, refugees, disability or LGBTQ +, and they hosted us in their families. It was one of those moments when we realized that as different as we are, as many things we have in common.

As I have mentioned the Pandemic so far, I think that although the whole reality and, obviously the project itself have been reshaped from the moment of lockdown, I learned many things from that whole period. The most important I would mention is that I rediscovered the power of the community- the local one, but especially the one at home.

As I said at the beginning of the article, I think this experience was complex and when I say that I think of all the contexts and the whole learning process created and supported throughout the volunteering placement by all those involved that make the entire project even more meaningful than the adventure itself already is. Learning and developing the necessary skills for young people (and working with them) is an important aspect of this kind of projects in the European Solidarity Corps and that is why, during this internship I received training and guidance on various topics.

What are the principles and values of E.S.C? How do we adapt more easily in the hosting country? What techniques and resources or skills should we use while working with young people? How do we organize an event? Or how do we facilitate and maximize the process of self-reflection so that we become more aware of our abilities? These are just some of the questions I asked myself during the project and I had the chance to find the answers step by step over the eleven months. Other questions related to professional and personal development were also tackled. In the end, if you ask me what do I take with me from the whole experience in Poland my answer is: clarity- for my professional and personal life, meaningful friendships, nice memories and a lot of personal discoveries which I wouldn’t have allowed in any other context.

Elena’s ESCapade in all its beauty and diversity

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