Salma, Hatoumata and Hasan joined ESC voluntarism project 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 her testimony and see photos of her experience in Ioannina!
The activity is supported by the European Commission and is under the European Solidarity Corps programme.
Hello young people, i must confess that I don't really know how to start this presentation. So let's start at the beginning!!! My name is Salma and I'm 21 years old. Like all the incredible people on this site, I also volunteered at the Youth Center of Epirus but for 2 months. Before I left I remember being so panicked and stressed that I had to contact my flatmate a week before to get all the details and a video of the flat.
However, all this stress was more about the fact that I didn't know "if I would be a good flatmate", "if at the facility I would be made to feel welcome", "is my English good enough for me to go there?", "Will they accept me?". All these questions vanished when I set foot in this city.
OK, when you say it like that it sounds so cliché! Buuuuut!! I swear I've never been more myself than in this country!!! The teenagers in the facility are so adorable and it's amazing how much they've taught me in the space of just 2 months... They were themselves, completely human and touched by their story and will have a special place in my heart!
Because despite all their experiences, their trials, they always knew how to smile at life, and that makes me beam with a thousand fires. I'll never thank them for having had them in my life. My flatmates, the ESN and the Erasmus students, the staff at the Youth Center of Epirus, the people I've met over the months, the places I've visited with them. I don't know if you realise how much it has shaped me and helped me grow and gain confidence in myself. All thanks to them. Because in reality, what I'm going to miss most is not so much the city but the people I've met throughout my experience. But all good things must come to an end.
Hello everybody. My name is Hatoumata, I am 22, and I am French. In September 2023, I started a gap year. I wanted to go overseas, get as many new experiences, and learn a lot about the world. That’s why I decided to go to a country that I have never been to, Greece, to challenge myself.
When I arrived in Ioannina, the first thing that surprised me was how welcoming people were. From the coordinators Giorgos and Marta, to the other volunteers and even people of the city, I thought everyone was so nice. I felt like I was home since the beginning of my 4-month volunteering. During it, I got the chance to organize events for young adults in the city of Ioannina. We had to manage the whole process: the first idea, the different activities during the event, and the posts on social media. We organized cultural events, for instance, creative writing events. I was surprised that so many people were interested and joined us for our events. It made me really happy. Hosting events was for sure my favorite thing to do because I could talk and connect with the locals. By choosing to be in the office team, I wanted to learn and interact with Greeks.
I also worked on my personal project, which was a huge part of my experience in Ioannina. I created my very first fashion piece. I have always been attracted to design and fashion, but I never got the chance to do anything about it. I thought that Ioannina could give me this chance for the first time, so I learned everything to make my project work. Crochet, sewing, designing clothes… Everything ! At the end of my volunteering, I made a presentation of my work in an art gallery! I was very proud of it.
As it was my first time going overseas for this long, I wanted to discover a lot in Greece; the culture, by going to museums, the language, by trying to learn how to read and speak Greek, and the cuisine, which was one of the best things of my experience! I liked going to the restaurant and trying authentic Greek food. I also travelled to many different places and could appreciate the beauty of Greece.
I did not think I would like this experience as much as I loved it. I am very happy that I got the chance to experience that, because I made lifelong memories in Greece.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.