Andrea and Bahaa, from Italy and Jordan, joined a ESC voluntarism program in Ioannina, at our organisation, Youth Center of Epirus.
Their main activities were to help to run the youth center, offer daily activities to young adults (18 - 30 years old), plan and manage small scale events (discussion topics, workshops etc) and work on online content creation especially related to the people and culture of the city and region of Epirus. Below, you can read some of their testimonies and see photos of their experience in Ioannina!
When I walk in the morning from the house of the volunteers to the office, I feel like I belong to Ιωάννινα: One καλημέρα (good morning) to the pharmacist, one τι κάνεις; to the guy of the peritpero, an εσπρέσακι μονό σκέτο at the usual cafeteria. If I am hungry, I know the lady of the bakery will smile at me while giving me a τυρόπιτα (cheese pie). But I may also get a pita at Polykarpos, a crepe at Hippo Style, an ice cream at Nousias, feta with honey at Bukia’ Bukia’... The list is long.
Eating has been an important moment of sharing with other people in these months. Either eating outside or cooking at home, the other volunteers, the people of the YC EPIRUS and I would gather together to enjoy our time together.
I learned something from every person that I met here. Speaking Spanish, perrear, doing massages, bringing coffee in the bed, speaking Greek, how to plan trips the day before, CANTARE, finding strength in others and in myself. Not only.
Cleaning desperately the house, visiting the Χατζηκώστα hospital, going to the University to attach flyers, facing an unexpected and freezing low temperature all winter. Wait, have I written all these things in the Youthpass?
If I think about it, I realize that I’ve lived a lot of different experiences in this city, in Greece. But at the same time, I feel like it’s been so quick, and I still have so many things to do (if you are reading this, go to Perama cave and don’t postpone it forever).
Everybody has been very kind, patient, and open to me. I am leaving with a huge sense of gratitude, because I’ve felt very loved.
Before I came here, I was a bit nervous because this is my first time volunteering overseas. That's why I chose a two-month program. Looking back, I really wish I had chosen a longer duration.
At first, I wasn't sure if I could write this story because I'm not a very good writer. But once I started thinking about all the amazing things I experienced and accomplished, it became easier. Still, I feel a bit sad knowing that this journey is coming to an end.
Living in Ioannina for two months has been a very meaningful time in my life.
I want to start by saying how much I admire the office and the amazing team I had the pleasure of working with. We had a great time going out for coffee, enjoying delicious pastries, organizing events, managing social media, and having interesting and fun conversations. It brought me so much joy.
The office staff was incredibly kind and supportive. Whenever I needed help, they were always there for me and did everything they could. I am really grateful to everyone in the office for making this experience so wonderful, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to work with them.
Living with the other volunteers in our shared apartment was also amazing. I couldn't have asked for better companions. We all loved trying out different foods, so we often went to restaurants and ice cream shops together. We also cooked various dishes, although I must admit I wasn't the best chef.
We planned and went on trips together, explored beautiful mountains, sang along to our favorite songs, visited churches and temples, and enjoyed the peaceful beaches. These experiences brought us closer together. They were the kind of friends you could just sit with on a street corner and feel comforted by their presence.
I will definitely miss the hours we spent together, talking about our different backgrounds, and cultures, and having deep conversations in our kitchen.
I also want to express my admiration for this wonderful city. At first, I wasn't familiar with living in a small place like this, but as time went on, I grew to love it. I enjoyed relaxed walks by the lake and the castle, meeting locals who shared fascinating stories, and creating a daily routine in this charming city.
Everyone I met during my time here made me feel so welcome and loved. I am incredibly grateful for this experience.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.