Andrea in Bremen, Germany // Final Report


Hello, I’m Andrea and I come from Italy.
After 10 months my experience as an ESC Volunteer in Bremen, Germany, has come to an end.

I decided to take on this adventure due to a fierce need for a change in my life and I still remember how happy I was when I was accepted by NaturKultur e.V., the organisation I would have worked for. Its main goal is to provide international mobility opportunities, to share tolerance and diversity, and to help young people become more civically engaged.

My duties were mostly focused on helping out with the maintenance of KulturHaus (plus  its woods and its bikes): this is the venue used by NaturKultur for Youth Exchanges and it is located just outside the city of Bremen, where I lived.
I also had the freedom to come up with personal projects, not necessarily related with my main tasks, and this is how I founded a small but multi-cultural poetry club called Bremen Poetical, as one of my hobbies is poetry.
Other things included in the job were team-working, brainstorming sessions, weekly  team-meetings.

Throughout these 10 months (from July to May) I resided in a three-floor house (good old German style!) with other young people coming from all over Europe.
I can tell with no exaggeration that I had the most beautiful and unforgettable relationship with all my flatmates, who, thanks to their very diverse and lovable, kind and crazy personalities I can describe as nothing but as one of the best things that ever could have happened in my life.
At the moment of my departure I wished I had pockets big enough to carry them all with me in Italy. Unfortunately that was not the case, so I resolved myself to simply bring them in my heart.

After all this time, all of this appears pretty crazy to me, considering how loner and attached to my routines and old habits I am. I had to change almost everything, from the food I used to eat and the activities I involved myself in to the people I saw and the things I read, as well as the language and the virtuous struggle between budget and personal needs.

I’ve had not a lot of time to think since I’m back in Italy, due to the mind-boggling amount of things to catch up with and the biblical endeavour to find a new daily routine, not to mention my personal never-ending, wit-consuming struggle to find a clear and definitive purpose in life.
Therefore, I still don’t know if this experience has significantly affected my personality, my views, my future: time will tell. For now I just feel both lucky and glad.

Nonetheless, I’m going to mention a couple of things.

During this experience I learned that there is no clear path in life for happiness, that your plans are unlikely to produce the outcome you desire and that you have to learn how to deal with this, as hard as it may be.

I learned that to do some good old fashioned job with your own hands (such as building up things from scrap wood, or fixing bikes) is not only cooling for the mind but also self-rewarding. I wouldn’t do it for a living, though.

I learned that I love bikes, even if I’m no expert about them.

I learned that I love to spend quality time with myself as well as with people from other countries: nothing could possibly be more exciting, nor as nourishing for the mind. I learned that I love diversity and cultural differences.
(Love You, Volunteers of Bremen!!!)

I learned that I’m too old for a couple of things, and yet still young enough for another one or two (and who cares, anyway?).

I learned that my favourite words is “pato”. No, it’s not German.

I learned that I’m not suited for a lot of things, but, on the other hand, I don’t need to be good at everything, do I?

I learned that it is ok to be the way I am.

I learned that I still have a long way to go.

And I learned that the only two things that can make a difference are your own choices and the people you meet.

To sum up, I would like to thoroughly recommend an ESC experience to everyone who wants to see something more of the world, or needs a change, or wants to improve a skill or, actually, for whatever reason. It’s full of reasons in there.

Mark my words, though: beware of nostalgia.
It’s a considerable side effect.

Andrea Guarino
ESC Volunteer
NaturKultur e.V.

Andrea was hosted on the project “Make a change, be the change!”, coordinated by Bangherang Associazione di Promozione Sociale, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Agenzia Nazionale per i Giovani.