My name is Marta. When I ask myself about the reason why I found myself coming from Poland to volunteer in Palermo I think it was some kind of calling from the inside to do something more than just routine student life, challenge myself and meet people. So here I am and still couldn’t believe that it has already happened.
In Palermo time flies differently. It has been 2 months since I arrived but it feels like I have been living here very meaningful part of my life. At first glance everything in this city seems similar to what you already know but after a while you realize that the truth is „everything is different”. Coming here from Poland I didn’t expect to be suprised as much, I have been in Italy before, I have volunteered also in my life but I feel like I have been living a different life here, and what’s more it started to be the life which I fell in love with.
My project was about co-leading international project organised by IG in cooperation with local partners Scalo 5 B focused on urban decoration and restoration local areas. I worked with 4 amazing volunteers from Spain, Italy and France. Our goal was to build the flower boxes to decorate Piazza Mediterraneo in Ballarò and also paint the theatre structure in hosting organisation.
But in reality we achieved even more. For over a week we have been spending whole days together working, eating, discovering Palermo and all of these days made as to become friends.
Thanks to people who create Scalo 5B we had an amazing boat trip on Lisca Bianca.
We had also trip to Cefalù nearby Palermo!
Moreover we met with local society from Azzizart association who takes care of periphery of Palermo. Together we did urban decoration activity in Romagnolo. We restored and painted old abandoned boat at the beach area to put the plants inside.
Working with the wood and painting was sometimes challenging experience but totally worth of excitement and happiness we could feel at the end of our work celebrating the final result of our project. We left little piece of us at Piazza Mediterraneo installing our boxes there and I hope this will be the way in which Palermo will remember us because what is sure we will remember Palermo…
In August I was also involved into supporting an international mobility with many young people from 5 different countries: Estonia, Belgium, Slovakia, Spain and Italy. We have been having workshops about many topics: tolerance, intercultural understansing, digital activism and how to use digital tools. We could explore other cultures through disscusions and tematic nights organised by each country about its culture.
What I realised is that even couple of months spent in different environment around new people, being dedicated to meaningful work can make a big impact on your life. To change yourself a little bit you don’t have to change your whole life, you can just rearrange your plans for a couple of months thanks to Erasmus volunteering. What still remains inside of me is the feeling of wonder how my volunteer work and people I met here have made me a happier person.
I’m Paulina, 20 years old student from Lithuania. I was taking part in a short-term volunteering in Isola delle Femmine village near Palermo. There I spent one month and I had two work camps in Natural Reserve of Isola delle Femmine.
Palms and huge cactuses in the streets, clear blue sea, hot sun and stunning mountains were the first signs that time here will be unforgettable. From the first days in Sicily I was amazed by its landscape. It was my first time in southern Europe, so this place was unique for me.
On work days we were going to the natural reserve. We had to prepare water bottles, then sail with motor boat to an island. There we were planting and watering plants. In the hottest summer months island looks really poor, so our work helps them to survive. Another thing is that island ground is full of rocks, that means it’s hard to make holes for plants and even for the plants it’s not easy to grow.
We had free time after work, so we tried to spend it usefully. We were going to the beach, hiking or exploring city of Palermo. To my mind, it’s worth to try Palermo nightlife, because it was fun at our time.
This volunteering was great for me, because I improved my English skills, I experienced multicultural group, met different people and expand my horizon.
And the most import thing to me was the feeling of freedom. By saying this, I mean how easy everything was going there, how people was relaxed and opened to make friends. That everyone enjoys the life, don’t worry too much and feel free to be themselves.
These fast-pasted days it’s common to forget those things. So, for all others that need this feeling, I wish to experience it while volunteering abroad.
Big thanks for the InformaGiovani staff and other volunteers that made my experience great and unforgettable!
By this project I improved my English skills. I lived with foreign volunteers, so I must to talk in English all the time. I notice that, now I am much more confident in expressing myself, making dialogues and talking in English. What is more, I broaden my vocabulary and improved my listening skills, so it's easier for me to understand others better and faster.
Grazie, Abarraka, Shukran, Dhan Yabada, Merci, Thank You, Gracias, Tesekkurler
I am Gizem, 27 years old Turkish woman who has been living in Belgium for the last 3 years. I did my BS in Psychology and specialized on research and migration during my MS degree in Belgium. Migration has become a real life fact as well as a field of profession to me throughout the years. This constituted my great interest to commit for the voluntary work in the project named “Empowerment through volunteering activities” at the Associazione I Girasoli, an organization carrying out protection projects with both asylum seeker families and minors (SPRAR). My activity days were mainly in Milena, but I also assisted to the Girasoli in Sutera. I was very warmly welcomed –as warm as Sicilian heat :) - by the members of the organization and the locals of both Milena and Sutera.
My volunteering activities were started in Sutera, a historical town settled on top of a hill in the moorland area of Sicily. I Girasoli organizes an event named “Welcoming Refugees” every year in this town and I helped them with decorating the town and making it ready for the guests. This is a 2-days-long event consisting of traditional meals from different cultures, short-movie screening, music and flow-art activities, as well as discussion sessions on the current issues of migration in Sicily and Italy. Even though I have a very limited understanding of Italian and miss the opportunity to fully understand the discussions, I am very happy to be part of this event. Importantly, this event led a very peaceful and fun environment which reinforced a positive interaction between refugees and locals, including me. This was a truly a different episode of the reality on migration in comparison to what I had seen about Italy in the mass-media (usually pointing out the negative issues) before coming to Sicily.
Milena, which is another small town close by Sutera, was the main destination for my volunteering. I spent my time with asylum seeker minors and, also, with few families residing in the town. There were 14 asylum seeker minor guys coming from Gambia, Somalia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt. We did an art workshop (creating a migration-route map), half-structured conversation tables (accompanied with West African style made green tea so that we were calling it “Green Tea Conversations”) and cinema nights. I also joined to the Italian courses in the centre, museum visit in Milena and several religious ceremonies such as Baptism and Eid Al-Adha.
The art activities, together with the time, led me to create a trustful relationship with the guys. We created a tolerant ground that we could share our opinions freely on sensitive topics such as religion, nationality and our past experiences. We talked about being religious or atheist, our migration journeys, cultural and legal barriers when you migrate, as well as our future goals. I must tell that my knowledge about the routes they took to reach Europe and what one experiences on the way has undoubtedly widened with their stories. I am more than ever sure that, with their words, “migration is not a crime”; it is a very humane response against man-made conflict or systematic inequalities around our globe. I, as a migrant in Belgium, stand more in solidarity with other migrants for safe and human migration after the lessons they taught me during our conversations.
I am very happy that I came to Sicily, to this beautiful island with warm and welcoming habitants. Since Sicily has been a nest for many different cultures throughout its history, it led me to take a journey through different cultures. I did not only learn about Sicily and Italy but also about the cultures of West Africa, Asia, Middle East and Europe. And most importantly, I am very grateful that I met the guys staying in the centre who challenged my horizon of reality and made my voluntary work such a wonderful and unforgettable experience! I am surely more hopeful and grounded and motivated to continue my way to be a part of a social change for a better world!
I nostri partner
Questo sito è realizzato con il supporto del Programma Erasmus+. Né la Commissione Europea né le sue Agenzie sono responsabili del contenuto, che rispecchia unicamente le opinioni degli autori. Responsabile Pietro Galluccio
L'attività di InformaGiovani è supportata dal Comune di Palermo, che ha concesso l'utilizzo di un bene confiscato alla mafia per il progetto di sportello