How can you extend your volunteering project? Stay in Italy for the Universal Civil Service!

As I think many of you know by now, our blog often talks about the various experiences of European volunteers who are hosted here in the Marche region or who are doing a volunteering project abroad. We tell you, through their voices, about the months or even whole years they spend in Italy in the various associations that become true second families for a short or long period of time.

When the various projects come to an end, it is always difficult to leave, especially when very strong bonds of friendship have been formed over time. So one feels the need to be able to try to stay, to try to extend as much as possible. Precisely for this reason, volunteers often choose to take part in National Civil Service, prolonging their experience in the social field.

For those who do not know, the volunteering projects we are referring to in this article are the European Solidarity Corps: these are projects that can be short or long, starting from 1 up to 12 months; they allow young people between 18 and 30 years of age to gain experience within associations of different types all over Europe. The Universal Civil Service, on the other hand, is the voluntary choice to devote a few months of one’s life to the service of unarmed and non-violent defence of the homeland, education, peace among peoples and the promotion of the founding values of the Italian Republic, through actions for communities and the territory.

Some of the European volunteers have indeed chosen the Civil Service route in order to continue their experience in Italy, thus having the opportunity to continue their training and their mission in Italy.

Well, we have two exemplary cases to share with you: that of the Red Cross of Cingoli and that of the Red Cross of Marotta. The former, we can say, is a veteran with regard to the involvement of ESC volunteers in Civil Service. In fact, many volunteers have stayed at the Red Cross of Cingoli for Civil Service after their volunteering project. Among them are volunteers from Spain, Slovakia, Belgium, Portugal and France.

For the Red Cross of Marotta, however, this is the first time this has happened: Maria from Slovakia will be the first Civil Service volunteer after having been an ESC volunteer.

To better understand the motivations of the ESC 2021-2022 project volunteers to continue their Italian adventure, we interviewed them. They are Maria, who applied to stay in Marotta, then we have Ana and Phillip for Cingoli.

Let’s hear directly from their words, then.

G: Hi guys! Thanks for taking the time to talk. So, when did you decide to try to be part of the new Civil Service in Italy?

M: I decided almost immediately after I started my project, although I still tried to consider other options.

P: I decided to apply for the Civil Service after I was told that applications would be open. At first it was just a “just in case” solution, but now I am fully involved.

A: Well I had already finished my ESC project last summer, but I stayed on as a volunteer at the Red Cross. This year when I heard that they were going to open applications for Civil Service, in February, I decided to apply.

G: Regarding the activities, are they similar to those you did during your volunteer project?

M: The activities are more or less the same as during the project. During the latter, I met the other guys who were doing their civil service so I already have a clear idea of what to expect.

P: Many activities will be the same as during the ESC project, but there will be more responsibilities and more options.

A: I think the activities will remain more or less the same, but we will have more responsibilities. Many people within the Red Cross will rely on us. I did my ESC project when the Covid situation was at its worst and so, due to force majeure, I didn’t have many options. Now that everything is reopening again we will be able to do more activities again.

G: Did you have an interview? If so, can you briefly describe how it went and what it was about?

M: Yes, I had a simple interview. The questions were mainly about my experience in this field, my reasons and motivations for doing the civil service.

P: There was an interview for which I was even over-prepared, since the people who were going to ask me the questions were the same ones who know me from my ESC experience. In the end it was more a chat about my ideas about the future and how I imagine the Civil Service will be.

A: Yes, we had an interview, but it was more of a conversation because they already knew me. Even though I was very nervous anyway! They just asked me why I decided to stay and my plans for the future. They explained to me what they expect from us, and that we have the opportunity to start new projects and, at the same time, grow personally and professionally.

G: Why did you decide to stay and try to have this opportunity?

M: One of the biggest motivations was that I wanted to continue working in the Red Cross itself, as I already have good relations with my colleagues and the other volunteers. I also like the kind of work we do. And I really hope that it will give me more opportunities in this field in the future.

P: I like the work I am doing, and also the people I have the privilege to work with. After it was clear in my mind that I needed another year to figure out what to do with my life, instead of mindlessly diving into a random thing, applying for Civil Service was an immediate decision, as it is an option that can also offer me stability for a year.

A: Before the Civil Service applications opened, I had decided to look for a job in social services, my area of expertise. However, I had difficulty finding something and then the Civil Service opportunity presented itself and since I was happy here I decided to apply. I will be able to use this experience to create social projects and expand my knowledge.

G: Do you think this experience will be different from the ESC experience? If yes, why?

M: I hope so, because now my Italian has improved, I will be able to get involved in activities I couldn’t before, and also do different courses, which I’m looking forward to.

P: As I said before, the Civil Service could be compared to the ESC project, but with more responsibilities, so it will be different, but familiar at the same time.

A: Yes, it will be different because although some activities will remain the same, as I said before, we will have more responsibilities which will bring more challenges. For me, as a non-native Italian speaker, it will be more difficult and frustrating in some situations, but at the same time we are familiar with the volunteers and the work here. So in the end I think it will be a really great experience and I can’t wait to start it!



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