Mi chiamo Efrem Mercer Miko, ho 24 anni e vengo da Maiorca, bellissima isola nel Mar Mediterraneo. Sono arrivato a Palermo il 15 marzo 2019 per un volontariato a lungo termine per l'associazione San Giovanni Apostolo. Da allora ho iniziato a scoprire Palermo, il loro stile di vita, cultura e lingua. Ero innamorato.
Ora ti spiegherò la mia esperienza di lavoro con i bambini palermitani.
Quando arrivi da qualche parte in cui non sei mai stato e non parli la loro lingua, all'inizio è sempre difficile affrontarla. Sei estraneo per i bambini e hanno bisogno di tempo per conoscerti e iniziare a giocare con te o parlare. Devi essere paziente, non correre mai per avere la soluzione in un secondo, dai solo tempo ai bambini.
Ma quando conosci la lingua e i bambini ti conoscono meglio, tutto è fantastico. Ho avuto un'esperienza straordinaria e meravigliosa lavorando con loro. Quando ti considerano parte della loro famiglia, è davvero bello.
Quello che stavo facendo nell'associazione è: prima i bambini arrivano dopo la scuola e poi iniziano a fare i compiti, poi fanno uno spuntino e iniziamo a organizzare alcune attività sportive e animazioni fino alla chiusura del centro. Questo è il programma in inverno.
In estate tutto è molto più divertente. Oltre alle attività sportive e all'animazione nel centro, andiamo in spiaggia, nel parco acquario, in piscina.
Nel prossimo video mostro tutta questa esperienza che ho avuto in breve.
We also used to organize our own public events, sometimes in collaboration with other Icelandic associations, such as clean-ups in various parts of the city and near the coast, documentary screenings and workshops about good practice to live a more sustainable life.
In every camp, we made also some excursions to show to our short term volunteers the wonders of Icelandic nature but also to make them touch with their hands the effects of the human activities on it, such as the glaciers that are melting because of the global warming and the plastic trash on the beaches.
During my 5 months in Iceland, I had a lot of camps all different because of the different people I met in each of them. Some groups were really active and positive, other were more calm and quiet but it was always really interesting to work and live with the people in the camps, where everyone comes from different countries and have totally different cultures. We always had fun and shared a lot about our lives, our countries and our typical foods during the long dinners.
The best about it was the variety and the understanding that meeting with different cultures bring in your life. But also feeling that my work was being useful and more people were learning about the importance of having a sustainable way of living, because our resources will not last forever and the planet is suffering the consequences of our actions.
However, during my time in Iceland I did not only led camps. Indeed I had also a lot of free time in between them. I really enjoyed this free time because I had the chance to go around on my own and with the other volunteers discovering people, places and the endless Icelandic landscapes.
Iceland is one of the wildest and more complex places in Europe. It is a land of continuous changes in time and in the space that inspired all type of travellers. The nature in Iceland is astonishing; between immense spaces, black beaches, geysers, glaciers, waterfalls, hot rivers, mountains, volcanoes with unrepeatable names and mystical northern lights it makes you feel like on another planet and you just want to discover his inscrutable soul.
This whole experience was very open minding. It was a great way to meet people, build connections, hear different stories, gain a new perspective and learn to appreciate things I used to take for granted. I got in return a lot more than the time and energy I invested in this volunteering experience. It was a fun new way to discover a beautiful little piece of world that made me a more active and involved person.
Hello, my name is Marita and in this blog post I will share my thoughts and emotions about greatest experience in this summer!
Everything started in the end of June, I send my application – motivation letter to my sending organization in Latvia (Radi Vidi Pats), they answered my email after some days saying that I should have interview with my hosting organization. At that time I was super busy, but I manage time for interview and I was not ready for it at all! At first I thought that it will be very long process for hosting organization to choose the right volunteer, but in the end of interview I ask question "am I already accepted in this project?" and they said, if I am alright with this project regulations, then YES! Wow, at that time I could not believe that...
After little bit more then one month I was already in the plane for direct flight to Catania, Sicily! And then, went out of plane, get my luggage, found bus stop to go to Palermo….but wait even in airport Sicily took my breath away – my favorite plants cactuses were growing almost everywhere and some great view to very big mountain, what I later figured out was part of real volcano!
I still had time before bus arrive, so I went for walk to check around, I found cool café and I went in there and took the best street food that I have tasted ever – “aranchino” (from that moment I start to get addicted from aranchinos :D ).
From Catania to Palermo (nearest city where was my volunteering house) it was 3,5 h drive by bus, at first I directly fall asleep, but in the moment I wake up I thought that I am still sleeping! Breath taking away beautiful mountain views get my attention so much that I just could not go to sleep anymore! :)
When I arrived our group leader, Ibra took me from bus stop to big volunteering home. There I meet for the first time 2 other volunteers with who we worked together for all month. At that moment when I arrived they were making pasta and it was really nice to start know each other, honestly at first moment Paulina (volunteer from Lithuania) and Zaher (volunteer from Syria) looked adult and serious for me, but after some while "ice was broken" between us!
Latter we meet other volunteers Lucas (volunteer from Spain) and Romein (volunteer from France)! We start to have conversations very quickly and actually we all spoke in very similar level of English, communication in this volunteering camp was super easy and understandable.
WHAT WAS OUR WORK?
Our every working day (monday - friday) started at 9 o'clock. At that time we needed to deliver water bottles (what we fill with water in before day evening) and plants to port, where we insert them in organization boat.
Imagine everyday we went to work by boat! Wow...
When we arrived to island sometimes I got really quick swim with all clothes to have more refreshing working! Then we manually went to water plants and plant some new ones almost every day. Usually it was not very hard job, because we were doing it all together, but sometimes weather was too hot to be very active.
One thing that suppressed me was plastic trash on island (it was so a lot not from people who comes here and throw something, but because of wind and big waves, so at second working day I started to wear working shorts with the biggest pockets, so I could collect as many as possible garbage.
To work and back we were usually going by one boat, but for two times, I did not want to hurry up, so almost every day I leave island with second boat, in that time when we were waiting for the next boat we were exploring waters with other volunteers, started to call sea creatures as our sons or daughters! Also me and Paulina were collecting seashells and stones, after few days we had them so much so we started to make bracelets from them.
We had pretty lot of free days in first workcamp, because of bad weather, so we took most of it – went to nearest reserve “Capo Gallo” where we excellent spend time and get to know each other better, we also took small trip around Isola delle Femmine. At first two weeks we really enjoyed time near to beach, often after work we went swimming together, took ice cream and played game that we will always connect with these memories - UNO (it was interesting how we complicated rules every time when someone start to get bored!).
In first workcamp (first 2 August weeks) we did such a great team job, we cooked foods by groups and separate other household jobs at second workcamp it didn’t went so good. I think one of the main reasons for it was that we did not had so good communication between us, but you know there is not good or bad workcamp, both of them had good side and bad side.
For example in first workcamp we really had timetable for cooking, but in second workcamp we were more flexible to job separation and in that time when you have already live together with 6 different people in one flat it is just understandable to have time alone. I am really grateful for this, because in these weeks I had one of the best hike in my life, where I really start to feel world power!
Speaking about myself, emotions, what I did in free time, I can surely say that I was not bored at any time, and how can you be if every where you go you see something new?
As I write I had this super cool craft hobby for all this time when we worked in island and when I had the chance to collect beautiful rocks and shelves. Also this hobby remained me about my home, because at home I am doing similar crafts! One day at Palermo city I even found shop for crafts and from that moment I started to get really in to this crafts! At end of volunteering I gifted handmade bracelets to all my friends these were my souvenirs!
The hobby that took my breath away in Palermo was roller skating! At the moment I got to know that it is possible to take big luggage with me, there was no questions to take roller skates or not! Before I packed my luggage I get to know is there some skateparks or some roller skating team, so at the time when I arrived I already know that I will have some great events where to meet roller skate friends! So I took place in two roller skate events – first one was on my second volunteering week, funny is that I explored Palermo city for the first time on roller skates! The second event was night ride to nearest beachside and back to city, in the end we went for about 26km! Number at this time when I am writing still looks very big, important is also that I started to exercise roller skating just 2 months ago, at first it was very challenging for me, but the great company and swim at beachside went so well!
But what about this one month, what did I understand about myself?
There was one evening when I had great talk with my group leader and actually at that conversation I figured out my life goals.
First – CREATE, be creative that is how I put in shelves my thoughts, clear my mind.
Second – TRY, big inner voice, who all the time is saying to try different things. And I will listen to this voice till I will be died, because this is the only way how I can find that I really like (also what I really do not like :D )
Third - ENJOY, be with me, be my friend and never ever let anybody throw away my dreams, sometimes just do not care about other voices, just sing with my soul voice!
Forth – THANK YOU, always remember to say these words, because it is just magic key to open another great door!
I think these kind of projects are perfect just because I met so a lot new people, who did not know me at all, I really get that feeling I can be myself...
101 THANK TO EVERYONE THAT MADE THIS MAGIC HAPPEN!
Meeting my mates again!
Recently I was one my Europe trip and guess what... I met both of my one month volunteering friends! I visited Paulina at Kaunas (Lithuania) and Zaher at Miskolc (Hungary).
We are good friends also after project although we are so different and I hope it will stay like that!
See you soon ;)
THE LAST MONTH IN PALERMO
After 9 months, I finally felt more integrated at work. I improved my Italian (and of course my English), and then I could have personal conversations with my colleagues!
While the teachers finished their programs with children for the last month, I still took care of one disable child (12 years old) and I started to create strong links with her. We did some last projects together like creating a cover for her works, or doing some decoration (flowers with paper) for summer holidays.
At school, we did a last “festa” with lots of shows (like songs, dance or theatre) made by students from each class, for the beginning of the holidays, and at the same time, we also said goodbye to the 8th class which joined the high school. I felt a mix between happy and sad feelings for everyone. With Clara, the other volunteer we said goodbye to some children, and we just realised that it was, as well, the end of our adventure together...
It would have been a little bit frustrating to leave Palermo without proposing my own activities to children (I mean to a whole class), BUT HOPEFULLY there was the SUMMER CAMP which lasted 4 weeks! The topic of the summer camp were the 4 elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
The objectives of the activities were to make children more interested to the 4 elements by an informal way and to have fun with them (because we are on holidays!)
For the first week, we did: vegetal painting, clay and games. During the second week, we created a wooden boat and an insects’ hostel.
These activities allowed all of us to create cohesion among children and between us! It was a nice experience!
It is recommended to prepare in advance the colour for painting, a day before it’s enough! I looked up a recipe found on internet at ‘Les petits radis’(https://lespetitsradis.fr/blog/faire-sa-peinture-vegetale-avec-les-enfants-n144). I went to Ballarò market (which is a local market) to buy some vegetables for preparing the colours: spinach for green, onions for yellow/orange, red cabbages for red/purple/pink.
Some days earlier, we began to experience the colours with Clara and Henriette at school. We used two techniques: colours by filtering with warm water or by smashing (we also used both in some cases). We used lemon juice to get a different colour: like Red Cabbage + lemon = pink.
I explained the process of making colours to children and we did it together. After we started to paint...each day a new painting: Day 1: the sea; Day 2: the mountains; Day 3: the wood; Day 4: the desert.
We used the vegetal paint 2 days and add classic paintings later because it was smelling bad with the temperature.
Results: children were really interested to see the colours and how to make it. They realised that they can do it by themselves by a natural way (and cheap one).
WORKING THE CLAY
The activity was organised with Maestra Lydia and Benedicta. Clara and me helped children to create animal and on the last day we told the legend of Colapesce and made a creature half human half fish to illustrate it.
We proposed to play some games during the break time. I brought cans to do a “chamboule-tout” game and proposed games like basketball with wool balls and baskets from the school.
THE WOODEN BOAT “la zattera”
For the second week, we decided, Maestro Eduardo, Clara and me, to build a boat with natural materials.
After collecting some wood, we cut wooden logs to make the boat and, after, the mast. Later, we cut and paint a piece of tissue of the sailing and helped children to make decorations for their own boats.
Results: Children were really happy. It was a good activity for the summer (they will try it at the beach!)
I collected cans and natural materials from villa Trabia (a public garden in Palermo)
The last 5th of December, in honour of the International Volunteer Day, we, Lidia and Leticia, ESC volunteers in InformaGiovani, had the pleasure to do a presentation about European Solidarity Corps and the opportunities which this offers to youngsters.
It took place in the Liceo Artistico Catalano in Palermo, several groups of adolescence attended the meetings. We had a puzzle game, a presentation about differences and similarities between volunteering and working... Students became very motivated, asking a lot of questions, they were interested in our experience, as well.
We informed young people about the volunteering opportunity of ESC which is a great chance for them to develop their skills in different areas in non-formal education.
Volunteering is an option to develop yourself as a person and to grow up in many ways.
If you are between 17- 30 years old and you would like to live an experience abroad, follow this link to join ESC and find further information about volunteering: https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisations_en
Still nowadays, sometimes there is stereotype about Sicily in the foreigners. They link the image of Sicily and Palermo to Mafia. Even when volunteer comes to Palermo s/he is told by her/his friends, family that it’s dangerous there, don’t go out at night, etc... But after spending one or more months, talking with local young people, knowing the work done by local NGOs, it’s possible to discover how local people, starting from their daily life, react against Mafia.
This video is made by Sergio, Spanish volunteer in Palermo, who wanted to highlight a different picture of Palermo, pointing out at the youth and local involvement in spreading culture of legality. So, he decided to record different anti-mafia marches which he joined during his volunteering and to introduce these with a personal symbolic drawing about the topic. This short film includes videos and photos of marches in memory of Peppino Impastato (9th May), Giovanni Falcone (23rd May), and Paolo Borsellino (7th July).
The video was made in the frame of "EVS for Building Bridges of Culture" project funded by the Erasmus+ programme.
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!
My name is Mohammad Zaher Akkad, I am from Syria and I have been living in Hungary for two years. I earned an MSc degree in mechanical engineering two months ago and I am going to start a PhD program in logistics this September 2019.
In August, I wanted to use my time in doing something good and refine my skills, therefore, I was looking for a volunteering opportunity related to environment and nature that I could develop my communication skills within it next to expand my networking in a new place. I was so glad to be accepted in this short-term project in Isola delle Femmine in Italy since it fulfils exactly what I wanted, spending one month in a teamwork project related to environment in an island in one of the best areas in Italy during August when everyone dreams about going to Italy. I was extremely excited about starting my adventure there.
Our work was in a small island called Isola delle Femmine located in front of a small town with the same name so near to Palermo.
The main service was planting plants and watering them daily next to other different tasks.
Even it does not sound as a hard work, it was requiring big physical efforts because we needed to move the water and plants to the island daily in order to start working.
However, we worked mainly as six members team so our collaboration and enthusiasm made everything easier and enjoyable.
In addition to our main work in the island, we were counting on ourselves in our daily life tasks in the house where we live. It was quite interesting to arrange our tasks in buying what we need, cooking, cleaning or even planning what to do in our free time.
We hiked beautiful places.
We ate delicious traditional food.
We enjoyed the beach with gelato.
I loved how every day we were becoming more near of each other, involved in our work and tasks and without realising when, it was our home, which we live in as a family. The location was great in the middle of the town. Moreover, it was amazing minutes for me when we use the boat to go to and from the island every day.
I met many people from whom I learned many things. I improved my knowledge about the sea, the plants and how to take care of them. Moreover, I learnt a lot about organising, managing and leading the group work.
I am so glad to join this project and I am proud that I was a part of this great activity in Isola delle Femmine to take care of the nature there and do something positive regarding the environment, which is everyone’s duty.
Mohammad Zaher Akkad
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