Alphonse and Halit from Belgium and Turkey joined a short term ESC voluntarism program in Ioannina, at our organisation, Youth Center of Epirus. Their main activities were to implement recreational and non-formal educational activities for asylum seeker children and teenagers, and to work on digital content creation on asylum seeker integration related themes. Below, you can read their testimonies and see photos of their experience in Ioannina!
I arrived in Ioannina after a long day of travel. As soon as I arrived I was integrated into the volunteer team but also in the office where George and Marta made me feel at home and also safe.
The city of Ioannina is a lovely city, not big enough to get lost in but there is always something happening there. I personally enjoyed the concerts.
Being from Belgium, I felt here directly on vacation with the culture shock. Greece is a great country especially for food and landscapes. I stayed in Ioannina for less than 2 months so I didn't have time to get bored. For example, I was on the island of Ioannina, cycled around the lake and we went with Georges to the beach with the other volunteers.
The atmosphere was quite nice and calm between the volunteers and I had the chance to learn a lot with them about their cultures and their life experiences. It was quite enriching for me as a young adult to meet different people at all levels. I think this experience is also enriching because it brings together young volunteers from different countries.
I loved my job which consisted on the one hand in organizing cultural and sporting activities and supervising circus activities. Indeed, an American NGO came one month to teach circus to young refugees. We helped them to supervise the activities and even the simple fact of discovering the circus was a unique experience. On the other hand, I also had a personal project which was the co-organization of a photography exhibition. I took photos of the young people for a few days and before my departure, we printed our photos with Chiara, another volunteer, and put them on the street. It was a great opportunity for me to show the work done for over a month. I found my job very interesting and the fact of spending a few hours a day talking and sharing moments with young refugees was something very nice, very enriching and I must say that I also learned a lot with them. I also liked the fact of being able to communicate in French (my language) with some refugees and sometimes to do French-English translations when it was necessary.
I will never forget the people I met here and the many nights out in the bars of Ioannina.
Efcharistó pára pára polý
When I decided to join the European Solidarity Corps `program I was a very anxious person, maybe scared and I didn't know what to expect but I was very excited.
From the first day I stepped into Ioannina, I realized that there was no point in being scared and worried because the wonderful people here were cooperating with each other to help me with everything, so to speak.
Spending time with the teenagers at the facility, listening to their life stories and being able to help them even in a small way made me feel so good. Most of the time I helped the kids by translating between English-Kurdish-Turkish, which was an incredible experience for me. I was honored to introduce my culture, Kurdish, to the people here for my personal project.
Participating in activities with the teenagers and being able to coordinate them when needed made me realize how beautiful it is to be and work as a team.
I am sure I will remember the great conversations and wonderful memories with my friends for the rest of my life. The happiness of meeting so many people from different cultures through this program is indescribable. There are even some wonderful people among them that I call my family. If I were to talk about these people I call my family, I would have to write pages and pages of articles and I am sure that nothing negative will happen on any of these pages.
And I believe that one day I will meet these beautiful friends again, maybe here, maybe somewhere else, but definitely one day.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.