La bella Italia - Volunteering in Northern Italy Blog dei volontari

20/04/2023 Mateusz Przybylski

Ciao a tutti! My name is Lena. I am 20 years old and I am from Germany. I have been in Italy for eight months now and I am working in a youth center. This youth center is located in the town of Pergine Valsugana (near Trento), where I also live. In my apartment I live together with a French volunteer who is also doing the same project as me.

Our working week looks like this: From Monday to Friday we work in the afternoon in the youth center and Thursday morning in the kindergarten. Each day at the youth center has a different theme. Monday is the creative day. On this day we do handicrafts with the young people. Tuesday has the motto movement. So on this day we go out with the young people to a park or a sports field and play soccer, basketball and table tennis or do weight training together. It depends on what the young people are in the mood for and what the park has to offer. Tutoring is offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The youth center also has a pool table, a ping-pong table and two table football tables, which the young people can use at any time during opening hours. What I particularly like about the work is the direct contact with the Italian young people. Since they visit the youth center voluntarily in their free time, there's an easy rapport between them, which makes it easy to get to know each other. In addition, you learn the Italian language relatively quickly, since you have to speak Italian. Of course, this was quite overwhelming at first, but as time went on, you got more and more used to the language, so that after a few weeks, simple conversations were no longer a problem at all.
I usually have weekends off and I spend this time mainly with other volunteers from Trentino. So we visit many different cities in Italy, go hiking together, go on vacation together or visit each other and cook or play games together. Since we volunteers have a bus ticket for the entire Trentino region, the commute is also not a problem.

Now to the topic of support during the year abroad in an ESK program. My experience can only confirm that this is excellent. On the one hand, there is the host organisation in your own country, which prepares you for the year abroad. Then there is an organisation in the host country, in my case this is InCo, which supports you on site, makes the seminars with you on site and brings you in contact with the other volunteers in the area. So I can still remember very clearly the moment when I was sitting on the train to Italy and received an email from my Italian organisation InCo with all the names of the other volunteers in Trentino and South Tyrol. So I had the names and contacts of the volunteers on site right from day one, which made it very easy to get to know each other. In addition, one also still has a contact person at the work place, who is available for questions and problems at work.
Finally, I would like to say that I can highly recommend a volunteer service abroad. Not only do you grow beyond yourself, but you also get to know yourself all over again, master challenges that seemed insurmountable for you and you move out of your comfort zone.