Johanne, was an ELIX volunteer for the project “Volunteering is in our Nature vol.2019” under the the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) program with the funding of the Erasmus+ and the support of Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation (I.NE.DI.VI.M).
“In March 2019, I arrived in Athens wanting to move things a bit in my life. I did not have any expectation but I was hoping for a change and novelty.
I had had experiences abroad before, as well as volunteering experiences, and the thought of a new adventure abroad in the form of a European Voluntary Service sounded very attractive to me. I wanted to be part of a project that made sense for me and, I have to admit, I did quite some research before finding ELIX.
What I first liked was the openness and thoughtfulness of people while they were explaining me their project. A project that was focusing on non-formal education and placed in an international context. Everything seemed to match perfectly with what I was looking for, so I jumped in. And I wasn’t disappointed.
From the beginning I knew what my missions would be. I was in charge of placing volunteers in the international workcamps organised by ELIX. The workcamps were taking place during the summer, so from March to June I was placing the volunteers and helping with the preparation of the workcamps. It was mainly administrative work but I had many autonomy and flexibility, so I also had the opportunity to take part in other projects of ELIX.
I spent time in the P^2 Multispace, a safe space with activities for youngsters, part of the Learning for Integration Project, organising the space and some activities. And while I was there, I got to spend some time with young people studying in ELIX’s learning centres, where Migrant and Refugee children and their parents get to study mostly Greek and English. Some of them knew already about the workcamps but, thanks to special founding for youngsters with fewer opportunities, they could also take part in the projects happening in Greece. Thus, I was in charge of selecting the ones who were motivated to join, through different meetings, discussing about their expectations, their fears, and also with the minors’ parents. This was a great experience to see them grow and evolve during the whole process and finish the project with new knowledges, new friends and a better level in English.
I also had the opportunity to help organise and take part in international trainings, with participants from all over the world and Europe, like the Peace Action Week focusing on the rights of Migrants and Refugees, where I learnt a lot and met great people. Besides that, I got to engage in the organisation of different events, like board games nights in the P^2 Multispace, the Volunteers’s Day, etc.
On a personal level, I made great friends among the volunteers and people in ELIX, and they were a major support for the challenging times. Because of course there were some challenging moments, even if it’s not the majority of them. But spraining an ankle happens so easily… And during all my experiences of the Greek Health Care system, I felt very lucky to have met those people and to feel so supported. So, even if it threatened my project a bit, as I was not able to move for weeks, I realised I was surrounded by fantastic people.
Overall, it was a significant eye-opening and learning experience for me, as I learnt a lot about non-formal education, human rights, developing projects, but also a lot about myself and my own abilities. Voluntary Service is a time where you get to know more about yourself, when you discover who you are, what makes you be alive and who you want to be in life, so if you take advantage of it you can really find yourself, but you have to want it and open up yourself to it.”|
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