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4 Maggio 2020

I’m Dario, 26 years old, from Sicily, Italy. Last year I had just finished my studies and I did not know exactly what to do with my life so I decided to go volunteering in Iceland. I wanted to experience Iceland for a long period and I thought that giving my help to an NGO was a great way to do it. Even better, the main topics of the project were something I really care about: environmental protection and intercultural understanding. My application to this Erasmus+ volunteering project was successful; SEEDS had chosen me and I went to Iceland!

I landed at Keflavik airport on the 14th of September and for the following 5 months, that are the best months if you like harsh winters and northern lights dancing in the sky, I would have lived in Iceland, meeting a huge number of people from every corner of the world and sharing my time with them.


When I arrived in Reykjavík, first I got to know my new home, a cosy house full of people with so many shoes at the entrance that I barely could reach the front door of the flat! With some efforts to remember the names of everyone, I started to know the other volunteers and talking with these really nice people I immediately felt very comfortable there. After the first week that I spent acclimating myself to the new place and having the first taste of Icelandic nature and landscapes around Reykjavík, my work started.
As a camp leader, my role in SEEDS was to lead camps where groups of short-term volunteers (usually between 5 and 10 people) from all around the world live and work together for two weeks learning and exchanging perspectives about environment and photography. In each camp, there was always at least two leaders: one photomarathon coordinator that was leading all the photography related activities, and one environmental messenger for the environmental part.

As I was responsible for the environmental part, I was organizing activities such as workshops, group discussions and practical work oriented to raise awareness, exchange perspectives and knowledge and to encourage active citizenship. These activities were usually related to waste reduction, recycling, food waste, eco-friendly lifestyles, critical consumption, organic gardening and similar topics.

During these camps, we had also the opportunity to participate and volunteer to some local events such as music, cultural and film festivals. One of my favourites has been the Iceland Airwaves where we had the chance to volunteer with our camp participants as photographers and to attend plenty of fantastic concerts of Icelandic and international bands.


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.