Rita, Tancredi and Agnese from Italy were volunteers at Youth Center of Epirus for around 3 months. Their project was called "Youthquake" and it was coordinated by Italian organisation ARCS. Main tasks of Rita and Tancredi included educational and recreational work with asylum seeker children at Agia Eleni accommodation facility, office work on website development, international communication and youth project planning. The tasks of Agnese were to prepare and lead non formal educational activities for unaccompanied asylum seeker minors at Agios Athanasios accommodation facility, as well as to work on online content creation for organisation's website. Their project was supported by the European Commission and is under the European Solidarity Corps programme.
Before leaving I packed my luggage with layers of will to share, excitement to meet new interesting people, I mixed it with some winter clothes, an Italian flag, an umbrella (very important in Ioannina!) and I was ready to move out of my comfort zone for my ESC project!
I arrived to Ioannina last October determined to work as a volunteer for refugees and migrants. What I experienced has been much more than this.
I felt immediately welcomed by the staff of the Youth Center of Epirus and by my roommates. Fitting in Ioannina wasn’t difficult at all. It was also my first experience in Greece and I couldn’t ask for a better place! I was blown away by the hospitality of this country and Epirus is a must visit place!
The pandemic emergency heavely influenced the schedule of our activities with the Youngsters Refugees. However we were still able to move through the region to work which was a great accomplishment! My strongest memories are connected to Agios Athanasios, I learnt a lot about Migrants and I became more aware about a phenomenon that I used to watch and study from a distance. I will cherish those moments in company of the Kids forever. As usually happens, you think to give and to teach and you end up receiving and learning much more than you could ever expect.
Three months in Ioannina flew really fast, it's hard to believe how much I did, I celebrated my birthday with not one but with two delicious cakes, I crossed bridges, I met fantastic people, I joint the Ioannina hiking club, I sailed on a lake to reach an island, I discovered amazing Afghani tunes, I learnt how to order a “Freddo Cappuccino” like a local (well, almost!), I worked in a team to shoot and edit stop-motion videos, I mastered the mystic art of origami, I drunk mountain tea on an actual mountain day, I ate a record amount of Pita Gyros and the list could go on for days!
Most importantly, after this experience, I am motivated to work harder and engage for Migrants rights, especially for Unaccompanied Teenagers. I will try the best that I can to raise public attention on this urgent and no longer ignorable situation.
I’m very grateful for the memories and the friends I made along the way, I hope to be back very soon!
I’m Rita, I come from Italy and I did my ESC for two months. During my time in Ioannina, I was given the opportunity to choose how to divide my volunteering time depending on my objectives and preference. So I went to the Agia Eleni accommodation facility 2-3 times a week, to prepare and do non-formal education activities with the kids, from arts and crafts to dancing and outdoor games. This helped me bond with them, better know their interests and personalities and have fun with them along the way! While it may have seemed hard at first, the children always welcome every new volunteer with such a friendly attitude and a happy smile, ready to show what they like or would like to do on the day. It was also amazing to see how easy it is for them to switch from their mother tongue, to Greek, to English in just a second, making it easy to both learn and teach new words in different languages for all of us.
For the rest of my volunteering time, 2-3 times a week, I also went to the office in the heart of Ioannina, to work with Dora, Teo and Angelos on Erasmus+ project proposals and possible collaboration projects with other NGOs, allowing me to improve core office functions and admin skills.
Being a volunteer at the Youth Center of Epirus has also given me the chance to meet amazing people from all over the world, from my fellow international and local colleagues to the children at the asylum seekers’ facility and the local people who welcomed me and Tancredi from day one.
Though our experience in Ioannina was cut short due to Covid-19, I am still very thankful for the time I had in Greece, the beautiful places I visited, the incredible food but most of all the great people who made this experience so unforgettable!
For me to write something about my experience in Ioannina is difficult, the coronavirus and the forced interruption have left a void in my stomach that I cannot describe.
The experience started very well, I met many beautiful and interesting people and working in the Agia Eleni accommodation facility was an experience that however I will always carry inside. Ioannina is the perfect town to experience youth volunteering, mixing the university world with that of international volunteers and Greek citizens.
I believe that ESC is an experience that must be tried on one's own skin, telling it is not easy, better living it!
“This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Youth Center of Epirus and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.”