A year at the Red Cross of Cingoli: the experience of Markel Soler

Today we have the opportunity to tell another story connected to the European Solidarity Corps. Our interlocutor today is Markel Soler, Catalan, who is finishing his volunteering project of almost a year at the Red Cross of Cingoli. Let’s find out together through his words how his experience was!

G: Hi Markel! It is really nice to have you here for this interview. It might be strange for you that I am the one asking you those questions, since I will still be for a bit your mentor and Italian teacher. Anyway, thanks for accepting to tell us your experience at the Red Cross of Cingoli. I think we can start then. 

M: Thanks Giulia. It is my pleasure to talk about my journey. 

G: How did you know about this opportunity of volunteering abroad? 

M: Before coming here I had the idea of taking a year off studying. I was quite fed up with the conventional educational system and decided to try different things. My first thought was volunteering, but I had little to no experience on the subject. In my town there is an information center for youth, they put me in contact with my sending organization which in turn talked to me about the ESC projects.

G: Were you able to find out new sides of you? 

M: Definitely yes, I would classify this experience as a turning point in my life. It has changed and shaped many of my beliefs and ideas (for the better I should add). I feel confident in saying that I am, through and through, a different person than at the start of this project.

G: How did you fit in Italy? Was it hard to be included in the local community of a little town? 

M: In terms of culture, my home and Italy are not that different, I did feel included and did not find many troubles fitting in with the rest. Of course I had to learn a new language, which delayed the immersion with the new community, but all in all, it went well. 

G: What do you think you brought to the Red Cross of Cingoli?  

M: Apart from another set of hands to help, I like to think of myself as a friendly, energetic and joyful person, and I hope that some of that positive energy has had somewhat of an impact on other people!

G: What advice would you give to people that want to do this experience? 

M: My advice is maybe tainted by the amazing experience that I got to live here, because I know that not every project or community is as enjoyable and kind as the one I got to live in, so take this with a grain of salt, but I would tell those people to just go for it, there are many experiences you are not living and amazing people you’re not meeting to leave an opportunity like this to pass.

G: Do you think this opportunity has made you grow on a personal level? 

M: Positively yes. As I said before, this experience has changed me in many positive ways. 

G: Do you feel part of the Red Cross after almost a year? Did you like the activities there? 

M: Yes,of course, I think anyone being here as long as I’ve been in such a welcoming community would feel as being part of the Red Cross. Although I wouldn’t say that the main goal of the activities is to be enjoyable (I am not just having fun, there’s work to be done) and that the pandemic situation slowed things quite a bit in terms of activities that could be done, I did enjoy my time serving for the Red Cross 

G: If you will describe with a word your European Volunteering experience what it will be? 

M: Transforming

G: Did you have any difficulties while enjoying  your period there?  

M: It has been my first time staying away from home for so long, so as much as I don’t want to admit it, it has been difficult being far from my friends and family, specially when they were going through tough moments and I couldn’t be there for them

G: To conclude, why should everybody try this volunteering experience? 

M: I would say that not everyone should do a volunteering experience if they are not invested in the perspective of selflessly helping others. I do think though, that anyone who meets those requirements should by all means embark on this kind of life-changing adventure! Nothing can compare to meeting new cultures and new people.


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