Vicolocorto

The great value of intercultural exchange: the volunteering project at Le Rondini

In Senigallia, on the coast of the Marche region, there is a community centre for children and teenagers run by the Associazione Le Rondini Onlus. The centre organises activities for minors of all nationalities with the aim of helping them overcome possible situations of school discomfort, supporting them in their growth and integration into society. The centre acts as a support in situations of economic or social hardship for families, promoting listening areas for psychological support.

Another objective of the centre is to promote and raise awareness in the area of sharing and of cultural integration, to fight social marginalisation and bring out the personal attitudes of the individual without social conditioning.

Moreover, the centre is committed to developing forms of prevention and fighting exclusion, racism, xenophobia, intolerance, discomfort, marginalisation and loneliness. 

The association also promotes training and information activities for the families of the minors, with particular reference to women, who are often excluded from the integration process and from relations with the local territory.

Associazione Le Rondini has been hosting European volunteers from the European Solidarity Corps programme for some time and we interviewed the girls who are now hosted: Sara and Sandra from Spain, Maud from France and Jule from Germany.

Tell us about your project, what are the activities you normally do?

The activities of our project take place mainly in the afternoons, as we organise recreational activities after school for children and young people. In the first part of the afternoon, both children and young people do their homework. We mainly support them with their French, English and Spanish homework, as these are our mother tongues or languages that we speak very well. After the homework, we help prepare a snack for everyone. 

The second half of the afternoon is dedicated to creative, sporting and cultural activities of various kinds: we often go outside, to the square or the park, or we stay inside if the weather is bad. Some days we organise workshops, such as making garlands and kites, and a few days ago we made Easter bunnies out of toilet paper and other waste materials. If we can’t play outside, football for example, we also do a lot of other games inside: dancing, reading stories, playing board games, watching films… it also depends a lot on what the children want to do, it’s always different!

What do you think is the added value of the presence of European volunteers in a centre like the one managed by Le Rondini?

The children and young people who come to the centre all have different languages and cultures and often do not speak Italian very well. This sometimes represents a problem for them at school and at integration level. Our presence is important because we also have different languages, we come from different cultures and we learn Italian here with them: they see us as a support and know that we can understand them. Also, we can share our experiences and language knowledge with them, making ourselves useful in their homework, for example. Not only do they find support in us, but we can also learn a lot from them: spending time together allows us to get to know the world around us better, their cultures and their stories, and teaches us to see things and events from different points of view.

What do you think you learned from this project?

We definitely learned to be much more patient and to listen more to the people around us. Also, this project definitely allowed us to gain experience and get to know different cultures and languages from all over the world.

We learned that you can start with small things to change the world. With only 4 hours a day, you don’t even realise how much you can help both the children and the association. It is very satisfying to see how they are progressing thanks to us.

What, instead, do you think you have given?

We have given different insights, certainly different perspectives and cultures, energy, support, education and motivation. 

Why do you think it is important to take part in this kind of projects? 

It is important to take part in this kind of project because giving your time to help those in need, doing a solidarity project, ensuring access to education, are things that contribute to creating a better future. These projects create new knowledge and teach us to be grateful. They are not only important for the people you help, in fact, but also for ourselves and for our future: they open doors for us, make us know ourselves better, learn new languages and, above all, get us out of our comfort zone.

Virginia

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