In the charming town of Orta Nova in South of Italy, something special happened during two months – from October 15th to December 13th. We took part in a volunteering project whose aim was to activate local youth and organize activities aimed at improving their knowledge of English and making new international acquaintances. What happened during that time was not just a series of actions, but a journey that had a lasting impact on everyone involved.
Our main goal was simple: to arouse the enthusiasm and commitment of young people from Orta Nova. We have planned a lot of interesting activities. We played games like Taboo that brought people together and made them laugh, breaking down language and cultural barriers.
Movie nights have become a gateway to debate on a given topic. It was great to see how movies can bring people together, no matter where they come from. The language of cinema truly knows no boundaries. We also organized a photography course, the aim of which was to create a project based on storytelling based on previously selected emotions. In this way, participants learned to create photographs that evoke emotions, create narratives through images and illustrate a given problem by creating a number of metaphors and direct associations. The camera has become a tool that allows not only to capture the beauty of everyday life, but also to touch upon the deeper problems and pains of the residents, and to show them that through photography they can also show their point of view, express dissatisfaction or touch on another topic that is important to them and the local community. The image has power, and with the involvement of young and aware people, it can be a tool for change.
Debates were another important part of our project. These discussions allowed everyone to share their ideas and opinions. Speaking English during these debates helped everyone improve their language skills. It was fantastic to make new friends, learn about the problems of our peers, and learn a dozen or so words in Italian. The effect of our project went beyond the planned activities.
During our stay we also had the opportunity to visit the youngest residents of Orta Nova. We came to the primary school to introduce ourselves, show where we came from, and sing and play a Polish folk song. It was a fantastic visit, full of emotions and smiles, which we will not forget for a long time.
What was the best thing about volunteering at Orta Nova?
[Ola] It’s hard to choose the best moment or experience, because all the events brought something new to my life. I really appreciated the visit to the lady, who showed us how to prepare real Italian pasta, and we could try our hand at preparing it. Teaching a photography course was also a very satisfying moment for me. It was an opportunity to share my passion and experience gained over the years while creating photographic projects. I am extremely pleased and surprised by so many great concepts and ideas. Thank you for the opportunity to implement this project and the real commitment of the participants. Apart from that, the best thing that could happen to me were sunny days in autumn, delicious coffee, pizza and pasta.
[Wiktoria] These two months in Orta Nova were amazing! For me the most memorable moments are related to Italian cuisine. First, We learned how to make Italian pasta from a sweet old lady. She showed us the ropes, mixing flour and eggs like a pro. It felt like stepping into an Italian grandma’s kitchen. Then, we dived into making panzerotti, these cool regional snacks. In a cozy kitchen filled with yummy smells, we folded dough and stuffed it with goodness. The sizzling in hot oil was like music. It wasn’t just cooking; it was a tasty journey into Italian culture. I am really glad that I could meet great people and make new international relationships. Good food, good laughs, good times. Orta Nova, you’re incredible!
We leave Orta Nova full of hope and charged with the positive energy we received from our Italian friends. We hope that the activities carried out will remain in the memories of young people for a long time and will openthem to this type of trip abroad. The volunteering trip to Italy was a great adventure, giving me the opportunity to share my passion, create creative activities that bring satisfaction and have a real impact on local youth. Because together we can do more! Even though the project has come to an end, its impact will continue, transcending time and space.