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ESC Volunteers – Il primo mese di Weronika


    Hello! My name is Weronika and since January 15 I have been staying in the Italian town, Orta Nova, as part of the European Solidarity Corps project. I spontaneously sent my application in November 2023. I was shocked when I received a response from Beyond Borders. After our video calls, I couldn’t wait for the day when I would meet all these wonderful people. And when that happened, I quickly came to the conclusion that I was going to have some of the best months of my life. These are my reflections from the first one. Maria, Carmine and Sebastiano, our wonderful coordinators and friends, showed us our new apartment. We still can’t get over how beautiful it is. We received a gift for a ‘good start’ and, exhausted from the journey, we hid in our rooms. We got in touch with Adam and Weronika very quickly.

    We are on the same wavelength. The next day, Maria and Sebastiano took us to our second home – the Beyond Borders office. There we met Rocco, who is also our coordinator and, like the rest, a friend. We learned about our responsibilities, heard a lot of advice about Italian travels, and above all, we all got to know each other better and better. Even a lousy introduction in such company is extraordinary and interesting. On the same day, we also met other volunteers who welcomed us with open arms. The next day we attempted ‘Mission Impossible’, a game that involved discovering the facts and, of course, the culture of Orta Nova. Fortunately, volunteers helped us all the time and with their help we managed to solve all the tasks. It turns out that Mission Impossible is not so impossible after all. Every day we met new friends.

    We had the opportunity to celebrate Chiara’s 20th birthday in one of our favorite places, Movida. We still can’t get used to the fact that everyone takes care of us and spoils us so much. Thanks to this, we had the opportunity to taste the sweetest tangerines in our lives, delicious tarallo (personally, I liked the version with onion the most), countless amounts of espresso and many others. Our first, important task was to prepare Talent show at school. This was an opportunity for Beyond Borders to reach a larger group of people. We created new leaflets, posters promoting the organization and Polish culture, and even a film that was worth the time spent on it. We had a great time during the preparations, you can imagine how a day in school turned out. It was wonderful! We expanded our circle of friends and organized an ‘English corner’, thanks to which people could dare and try themselves at speaking English. We watched others performances and a play in which our friend Michele acted. The talent show ended with a concert of Drip Dealers, talented musicians and DJ Tomasso. The obsession with their music grows every day here and even now, my thoughts are mixed with the words of their songs.

    The day at school was certainly a huge success! In addition to our duties in the office, we also volunteer in the Caritas kitchen, where in the morning we distribute hot meals and help with preparations, and in the evening we prepare ready-to-go packs of food for those in need. The kitchen is one of our favorite places. The atmosphere here is indescribable, you have to experience it for yourself. I’m trying to learn Italian just to talk to Maria and Brigida, the chefs, in person. Maybe one day I’ll say more than 3 words and I won’t have to use my hands to communicate. In the meantime, we started preparations for the Polish Intercultural Night. We prepared Polish snacks, including pierogi (polish dumplings), we came up with games and activities, we provided prizes for the winners and the day of the event came. This evening turned out to be a hit! Everyone had a wonderful time at the Melagodo Club (the home of all youngsters in Orta Nova). We expected a group of 20-30 people. To our surprise, over 60 people showed up. We met many new friends and spent time together exchanging our cultures. We were invited to a traditional Sunday dinner with our friend’s family and friends. We had the opportunity to taste Italian dishes and visit Stornara, a city full of beautiful murals created by artists from all over the world. We started our cooperation with the local organization Misericordia. Together with the volunteers, we were preparing for annual Carnival. In the meantime, an event for children related to road safety was also held. The Carnival itself was a success and everything went as planned. All the children were dressed as various characters and we had fun with them to the music in the center of Orta Nova.

    Then it was vacation time for the three of us. We wanted to use it as best as possible. First I went to Bari, then to Polignano and finally to the main destination of my trip, Lecce. I spent 3 days there, visiting the towns nearby and getting to know Lecce from the inside. Every day was filled with wonderful experiences. Coming back to Orta Nova was very hard, I got used to living in a bigger city, but at the end of the day our small town is a cozy home for us. We also took a trip to Trani, which we call ‘a diamond of South Italy’. Even rainy day couldn’t stop us from enjoing the breathtaking view. During the first month, I developed my skills in advertising and marketing in general. I dicovered the fact, that I enjoy contributing myself into social media life. Also I didn’t knew before that I have some skills in Canva making. My confidence is growing each day. I cannot believe how fast the time flies here. I’m glad it’s not time to return to Poland yet.
    I’m looking forward to the next few weeks here. Each one is better than the previous one. I try to live in this moment 100%!