Being an EVS volunteer puts you in a very special position: living and working in a country you know nothing or a little about, having to learn the language and the codes, having to meet a lot of people and memorize names, places, schedules, and a lot more. This can be confusing, a lot. But you’re not the only one in this situation, and one of the most comforting things for a volunteer is probably to meet another one. And sometimes you get to meet a lot of volunteers at the time.
During the third week of February 2019 Vicolocorto organised a training week for EVS volunteers who are part of a Strategic EVS project: 20 EVS volunteers arrived in Pesaro from the cities of Pescara, San Severino Marche, Cingoli and Marotta, and slept at the first floor of Hotel Elvezia. Whether they were Spanish, French, Portuguese, Slovak, German, Belgian or Polish, whether they were working for the Red Cross, their comune, Caritas or Movimentazioni, they all shared a common aspect in their job: all were strategic volunteers operating in areas that were affected by the 2016 earthquake. Therefore, Laura, Marzia and Daniele from Vicolocorto invited them to follow a training session throughout non-formal education courses and activities that would help them dealing with conflicts and emotions, whether it is their’s or someone else’s.
Vicolocorto also asked my three co-volunteers, Enric, Lydia, Sophia and I to help them during the week with the logistic organization as well with the pictures and the interviews. Therefore, shifts were established and when two of us would follow our usual schedule, the two others would go the hotel and meet the group of volunteers.
Lydia and I were the first ones to greet them when they arrived in the Monday afternoon of the 18th. Despite the fact that they were exhausted by the trip, they still had the energy to socialize and exchange, a beautiful thing to witness when foreigners interact. Lydia had the chance to speak Slovak face to face with another Slovak volunteer, a thing she hadn’t done in a while, and I also took the opportunity to speak with the few French / Belgian volunteers that had just arrived.
The course began the next day, on the 19th February in the morning and this time I was with the German volunteer Sophia. While the group was busy with energizers and activities, Sophia and I took pictures of almost every single movements in every angles possible. But most importantly we shot the first interviews and asked them deep and philosophical such as “how is your EVS experience so far”, “why did you choose to volunteer abroad” or “what is your favorite pizza” and so on.
The days passed, the shifts went on and I only came back on the Thursday, with Lydia, where they visited the Job Center and witnessed an intervention about job offers abroad, in European countries, but also on the Friday with Enric, the Spanish volunteer. The 20 volunteers were asked a simple but creative task: they had to make short movies of their choice about their EVS experience. They were divided in 4 groups and Enric and I were asked to follow two of them. The weather being nice and sunny, we followed the two groups going to the beach. Overall, it was a funny afternoon: the group I followed made a short-movie with a little bit of acting, Enric’s group made interactive interviews. The two other groups were also very creative as one made several short funny interviews, whereas the other one opted for a passionately narrated draw-my-life.
At the end of the week, my three co-workers and I felt funny and good. Even though some of us had the occasion to spend more time than the others with the 20 volunteers, we were in a different position than them, as we were on the organizing side. We had been able to interact with them but also to observe them making small groups, creating new ones as the day passed, trying to reach and know each other, and in the end spend a good week in a beautiful and sunny city, and learn more about themselves and the people surrounding them. On Sunday 24th of February, they all said goodbye and went home to their respective cities.