Through the year that passed I’m starting to realise only now how everything has changed and how I have changed. It was a year full of new knowledge of growing, speaking a new language educating myself and others. I could never imagine working with a huge group of people, taking care of each of them, supporting them and getting an enormous amount of support, hugs and kind words back.
I’ve been working in the centre for people with disabilities for the whole year.
Since I’ve entered the centre for the first time I saw those amazing drawings on the walls, from the ceiling till the ground. There were no free spots. Those were the people, educators and some of the students too full of colours, outlines, enormous smiles on their faces and ridiculously small feet, because there was not enough space for them because the smile, the face is much more important to represent and look at. I was wondering what kind of patience this student has and what kind of precepts.
One day during break I saw a man approaching me with a piece of paper in his hand and I understood everything right away. He drew me with a lilac pen, propeller on my head, huge smile and huge arm. He knew me so well already without even talking to me.
I decided to join a European Solidarity Corps (ESC) project because I wanted to challenge myself, learn new skills, and make a difference in the world. I could never imagine myself volunteering in a centre for adults with mental disabilities but life brought me here and I believed that my skills and experience are valuable, and I was eager to learn more every day.
My regular day at the centre was varied and always interesting. I would typically start the day by helping the residents to get ready for starting activities. After breakfast, we would participate in a variety of laboratories, such as art classes, music, and social skills workshops and wood working. I would also spend time with the residents individually, helping them with their daily tasks and providing companionship.
During my time at the centre, I learned a lot about myself and the world. I was always patient, but I learned to find a different approach to everybody but at the same time to be me.
One of the most important things I learned about myself is that I am capable of more than I thought possible. I had never worked with people with disabilities before, but I quickly adapted to the role and found that I enjoyed it very much.
I also learned a lot about the world during my time at the centre. I learned about the challenges that people with disabilities face, but I also learned about their resilience and strength. I was inspired by the way that the residents of the centre supported each other and created a positive and inclusive community. How do I deserve all this support I get from them?
Language? Well, I speak it almost perfectly because I wanted to and I had no choice at my workplace. But it is such a joy to learn a new language and get some help from people you are working with and the students and keep joking around all together.
I would highly recommend participating in an ESC project to anyone who is looking for a challenging and rewarding experience. ESC projects offer the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new friends, and make a difference in the world with a great support of people.
My biggest takeaways from my ESC experience are the importance of patience, compassion, and empathy in our daily life. From your workplace to your roommates. I also learned that the greatest joy in life is people. Finally, I learned that I am capable of more than I thought possible.
My ESC volunteering experience in Italy was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I learned a lot about myself and the world, and I made lifelong friends. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is looking or not for a challenge and an opportunity to make a difference.
This experience taught me that people with disabilities are capable of great love and affection. It also taught me that we should never underestimate the power of a smile.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have volunteered in La Finestra. It was a life-changing experience that I will never forget. And at the end, I moved to Italy and am still working with my dear people in the center.
Projekti toetab Euroopa Komisjon Euroopa Solidaarsuskorpuse programmist.