When I arrived in Palermo I really got the cultural shock of which everyone was speaking about when I prepared in Germany for my volunteering project abroad at Scuola Waldorf. I was thrown into a city where you always have to make sure to not be knocked over by a gesticulating and impatient car driver and where all people are more full of temperament and more expressive than in the northern side of Europe.
But I think this is the experience of every volunteer when you come in a city you never knew before and you will get used to it so fast, don’t worry!
My first impressions of Palermo were the huge beautiful mountains all around the city which create together with the really blue sea a very nice atmosphere.
What I find very interesting about the city and what I liked from the first minute I came here is its mix of so many cultures like the Greeks, the Normans, the Moors, the Romans and a lot more who all gave their influence to the city which is represented by all the buildings like palasts, churches and theaters (etc.).
In Palermo you can meet people from all over the world especially a lot of young students or volunteers and there are a lot of cultural or artistic festivals (especially in 2018 because Palermo was the culture capitol of Italy) like the Morgana Festival which is a festival for string puppets and where I watched the tragedie of Macbeth, it was brilliant. Besides that you can discover a lot of very nice street art in every small corner.
My project is in the Libera Scuola Waldorf (a school for children from class 1 to class 8) where I work together with a mentally challenged child and help out during the daily routins in the kitchen.
One really nice experience was to play the piano for a nativity play which was presented by the parents for the whole school. Together we practised with the music teacher and it was so much fun and interesting to make music and play together with the parents who were really enganged and acted with all their italian passion.
Sometimes the school has also some excursions combined with festivals like the day where we celebrated the beginning of the autumn. That day we went to a natural reserve in the higher mountains and had a picknick on a huge greenfield in the forest. After that I went hiking on top of one of the mountains around with my volunteer friends from where we had an amazing view.
So, in general I would really recommend to do a year like this to get a lot of new experiences and to get out of your comfort zone!
Naima Scheffer, Palermo