Living „la dolce vita“
After I graduated from High School last summer I knew that I couldn´t stay home any longer. I was full of wanderlust and restlessness. I have already known about the European Soldidarity Corps and thought of it as a very extraordinary and amazing opportunity, but only two months before I left I decided that my destination should be Italy and I started to look for projects there. Very shorthanded I found a project in Calvene whose description fulfilled all my wishes and of which I thought that it would fit me perfectly.
So back in October I started a new life in a Community in this very small town in the countryside, where children with troubles in their families would come to every day after school and which was also a home to some kids, who would actually live there. It is a very idyllic and cozy place and just as I imagined it to be! I really was looking forward to these 10 months laying ahead of me, because I have always loved this country, the people living here, the Italian culture and of course the Italian food (unfortunately as a vegetarian I cannot try many of the typical Italian dishes, but I never have to worry about finding food without meat, because Italians also eat a lot of veggies).
I have to admit that the beginning was very difficult, but I had already expected it to be like this. Of course it is hard to start a new life in a country whose language you don’t speak and where there are very few people who speak English properly (, which I think of now very positively because then you really have to learn the language in order to communicate). Next to the language another obstacle was finding my place in the community, because I didn’t have any clear tasks and I it was hard to interact with the children who didn’t speak English, therefore I felt often out of place and not like I could be able to contribute anything to the project. I would say after two months I finally was able to establish a connection with the children, I could speak to them a little bit, they got used to me and I already started to build up closer relationships and sometimes felt like a big sister to them. I could joke and laugh with them and most of the time I played games with the kids. I still felt sometimes useless, but one educator I worked with assured me that my presence was already good to lighten the atmosphere and I had the feeling that I finally had found my place in the community.
Even Christmas abroad had been an amazing experience, because while most of the children celebrated in their families three of them stayed in the community and it felt like being a part of a very big family and I did not regret once that I stayed in Italy during that time. New Year’s evening I could even celebrate with two other European vounteers from this area and I spent a great time with them.
After the holidays I was really happy and almost felt at home in Calvene. In the middle of January these feelings changed very fast, because there were personal problems coming up at the surface that I had tried to ignore before. Thankfully I was offered a new placement by the coordinating organisation and received the opportunity to move and to start over again in a new city. Luckily there are so many people here who supported me and who arranged everything (I am very thankful for coordinating organisation that cares a lot about the volunteers). I was relieved that there were so many people here that helped me and I never had the feeling that I had to deal with anything on my own. Within a week my move was arranged and I started a new experience in the beautiful city of Bassano del Grappa. Here I am living in a Villa close to the city centre with another German volunteer. We get along really well and together we are exploring the city, eating a lot of Italian food and trying to find Italian friends. I have to admit that this change was a little difficult and it is hard to start all over again, but at least I improved a lot my Italian and it is easier to connect with the educators and children than it has been back in October.
Right now I cannot wait for spring and summer to come, because I hope that the situation with COVID will get better. I cannot wait to go out in the evenings for an aperitivo and having more opportunities to get in contact with Italians. Overall I am very happy that I got the chance to make this very special experience and I have never doubted once my decision to come here.
Katharina is part of a project coordinated by Progetto Zattera Blu Società Cooperativa Sociale Onlus, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and AGENZIA NAZIONALE PER I GIOVANI.