Tom, Anais and Najdaha from France joined ESC voluntarism program in Ioannina, at our organisation, Youth Center of Epirus. The project was coordinated and supported by the organisations Pistes Solidaires and EurasiaNet, based in France.
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 and cultural heritage of the region of Epirus. Below, you can read some of their testimonies and see photos of their experience in Ioannina!
I had the chance to participate in a volunteer mission in Greece in the city of Ioannina for the association Youth Center of Epirus:
This mission was a challenge for me, because it allowed me to face my fear of traveling alone, to find myself in a place where I don't know anyone. I was very apprehensive about coming here, but what I was going to discover I had not imagined. The city of Ioannina is a wonderful and beautiful place, filled with mountains and extraordinary views but also with warm and welcoming people. For my volunteering mission I met great volunteers who for me will remain engraved in my memory. They helped me to integrate into the group and made me discover paradisiacal places. As soon as I arrived they were very patient with me and helped me to improve my English because I was too shy to speak. Today I can really make myself understood and I can express my needs without being afraid to make mistakes.
At the association, my work consists in leading non-formal activities with minor asylum seekers. I found this time very enriching because as a volunteer you think you are teaching them a lot of things but in reality you learn even more with them. It really changed me to see that with nothing you can bring them a lot of things. Thanks to that I grew humanly speaking, emotionally speaking but I also became more mature.
I recommend so much to people to be able to do something like that one day in their life, I can't thank enough the association Youth Center of Epirus to have allowed me to live that in my life. They have been a tremendous help. They never let us down and taught us so much about life.
I thanked them for trusting me, for supporting me during the realization of my content creation. I thank the best roommates in the world for being there for me, for allowing me to live the best experience of my life, I grew up thanks to you. And I was able to feel at home with you. Thank you for allowing me to share wonderful moments. Thank you to everyone in the office for making me laugh until I cried.
I had the chance to volunteer for a month in Ioannina with the organization Youth Center of Epirus. It was the best experience of my life!
Before leaving I was apprehensive about going abroad with someone I don't know and in a country that doesn't speak my language. Also, being very close to my family and friends in France, I was worried about leaving them. But this experience was extremely enriching for me.
I learned how to travel on my own and to improve my communication skills in English. When I arrived I didn't really speak English but with time and by trying you realize that you can do it. Then at the professional level, as a social worker, the actions that I carried out with the asylum seekers could be only enriching for my experience. I could discover this public and lead actions with them. The relationship with the young people is based on a mutual exchange and allows to learn about different cultures. The young people are exceptional and are very interested in everything we can offer. We had a great time together. I also had the chance to learn how to organize an event on the theme of culinary interculturality as part of the "content creation" and improve my video editing skills. I was able to do interviews and meet different people from the city. This event and these exchanges taught me a lot about intercultural differences and tolerance with others. I also had the chance to meet some amazing people in the office and at my favorite flatmates.This experience taught me to open up to everyone I met despite the language barrier. I was able to have meaningful conversations with many people. I would like to thank all the people I met for allowing me to have such a great volunteering experience. I will never forget this experience which was high on my list of experiences. Thank you for everything, I hope to see you all again soon!
At the beginning I had a lot of fears because I had never traveled or even taken a plane. Fears about working with young people, about the language barrier whether in the office or at the facility. But despite all that I couldn't hope for a better atmosphere in the office, with the young people or even the city in general.
In one month everything that has been accomplished is absolutely incredible. It's an absolutely unprecedented experience for me, whether it's the life in a shared apartment, with exceptional people, I could never forget all the people with whom I lived all these experiences or even all the encounters made thanks to the association. We are given total freedom to choose the activities to do and to set up with the young people in consultation with everyone.
Finally, it helped me a lot on my way of life and on what I want for my professional future.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.