Unforgettable volunteering experience during COVID19 pandemic Blog dei volontari

My volunteering project in Italy called „Take me in Europe“ took me to the south of Italy and showed me life in the city called Molfetta. Unfortunately, not at the best time...

My volunteering project in Italy called „Take me in Europe“ took me to the south of Italy and showed me life in the city called Molfetta. This city became my new home for 5 months. Molfetta is located on the Adriatic coast and is located approximately 35 km from Bari ( 30 minutes by train). 

In general, this project included circa 18 volunteers taking the roles of several volunteering positions at office, municipality, or at different schools. The majority of volunteers started in September. I came in February as a replacement for another volunteer and my project – assistance at the school took place in the nearby town of Bisceglie.

The aim of my school project was to give support during English classes at school for 10-13 years old students. I was attending this school together with another volunteer from Germany. We were preparing some interactive activities and assisting children with special needs who had adjusted study plans.

Usually, the classes started at 8.15 and finished at 13.15 including Italian classes for me and the other volunteer. I was surprised that between the lessons there is not always a break as I was used to having them in the Czech Republic. The Italian classes were informal and sometimes we even went outside and I was learning the vocabulary of the objects we saw during our walk.
On Tuesdays afternoons extra school activities for kids took place, for example, sewing bags or constructing miniature sailing boats.

Unfortunately, I did not spend a lot of time volunteering at school. I arrived in Italy in February 2020 - just a few weeks before the COVID19 pandemic situation paralyzed entire Italy. Firstly, there was quarantine only in the north and there were no cases in the south so I didn't believe it would affect us so much in Molfetta. But the situation was changing very fast. Schools got closed as a first place, everything else was working normally. We expected that in one week we will come back to the classes and many volunteers went also to their home countries to enjoy time with family etc. The COVID situation affected Italy and whole the world and everyone had to stay home. “Io resto a casa”/”I am staying at home” was a new motto to motivate people for self-distancing and home quarantine even before the lockdown was instructed by the government.

During the quarantine, I could not go out at all. It was emergency status and also I was not able to support school lessons because the online system for school was complicated in terms of accesses and probably it would not be anyway feasible since my Internet connection ( local SIM card) was poor.

From the beginning, I was convinced we can do more than just to stay home and do something for the others and to the community in this difficult time. For example, I joined the initiative „Spesa solidale“ with which we helped with delivering groceries/medicaments for people who should rather stay home, packing food boxes for people in need, initiated help with making masks for poor people and volunteers or cleaning beaches from the garbage. I believe that even with small actions we can make the difference.

I have learned more about myself, joined together with friends from different countries hackathon EUvsVirus where we created and prepared business ideas to support small entrepreneurs not only during COVID19 crisis - that experience helped me to improve not only entrepreneurial skill but since it was online also technical skills with digital tools or interpersonal. I explored new hobbies and creativity skills, learned the Italian language, tried new recipes, and finally, after the lockdown finished I got an opportunity to travel around Italy and learn more about Italian culture. 

Thanks to the Tandem project I connected with a truly inspiring person -  Giulia. Giulia was not only my tandem partner but soon my friend and we were in touch during quarantine, after but also now, she made me understand more about local culture, lifestyle, and traditions.

After all, I am glad that I joined the EVS project, even though the timing was not under the best conditions.