Since Vicolocorto Association became a sending association until today, we have sent more than 870 young people from all over Italy abroad for volunteering projects. We continue to invest energy and time to send young people abroad, especially in this delicate and difficult period, because volunteering projects have the power to totally change both people’s lives and their way of understanding life and seeing the world.
This is why we want to tell you about the experience of some of the volunteers who have left for volunteering projects abroad. Today we met virtually Chiara Ferramondo, born in the Marche region and European citizen by choice. Chiara left for France for a one-year volunteering project. Chiara is a seasoned traveller: she left for the first time in 2016 for an Erasmus in Brussels, where she then returned for a 3-month internship in an international relations office in 2018; during her Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations she left for another 10 months, this time in France, in Lyon; another internship brought her back to Brussels and by then it was clear that she would never stop. French has always been her passion and with Belgium and France in her heart she decided to leave for a European Solidarity Corps volunteer project at the end of August 2020.
The project took her to live for 12 months in Reims and work in the Centre Régional Information Jeunesse Grand-Est. During these months, Chiara’s main tasks were related to the management of volunteering projects coordinated by the Centre in both sending and hosting, the promotion of European opportunities in schools and the organisation of cultural and language activities aimed at the local community. Clearly, the activities were inevitably affected by the pandemic and winter lockdowns that France experienced between 2020 and 2021: many activities were converted into online activities and some of the richness of the human relationship that is typical of these projects was unfortunately lost. Nevertheless, Chiara has understood that this is exactly what she wants from her future: to work in an association and manage European projects and, in order not to waste time, she has also just started a course in project management and writing.
Complementary to the work dimension of the project, there is the social and personal growth dimension. In 12 months, Chiara has formed a new family in Reims, made up of locals and other European volunteers. Chiara told us, in fact, that her experience was formative from all points of view: she lived with three French people and worked in an international context and in close contact with the local community, things that allowed her to make a total immersion in the French language. In spite of the pandemic, she was able to experience local life such as grape harvests and wine tasting. At the same time, her language and cultural skills grew.
After all the projects abroad, Chiara strongly affirms that all the experiences she had were fundamental to her growth and to her becoming the adult she is today. Of course, it wasn’t and still isn’t easy: you often start out alone, taking a leap into the void. Everyone has fears and apprehensions, especially about integration, but these concerns should not hinder the experience! Chiara reminds us that there are always associations that support young people who decide to leave: first of all the sending and the hosting association, but also ESN, the Erasmus Student Network, which organises meetings and events that allow them to make many new friends.
To conclude with Chiara’s words “volunteering abroad is an experience you have to try, because otherwise you have no idea how many beautiful things you are missing!”.