Communication volunteer in the International Secretariat of SCI

Long term volunteering

Written by Yeliz from Hungary

September 2021

After graduating from university, I could still feel the competitive and fierce air among my peers. While I was happy to have closed one chapter of my life ready to stretch out my sore, tired muscles after long nights of cramming for the last examinations and typing away to finish the word count of my thesis, it seemed that the race was still on. In fact, it had just begun. Everybody was rushing for something. Whether it’s to land a job or a scholarship for the next level of education: Masters.
I felt like I’m in the middle of the busy crosswalk of Tokyo, the famous one in Shibuya that everyone knows. Just observing people speeding up to get to the other side before the lights switch back to red. I remember thinking, why the rush? Can’t I take my time, enjoy the scenery and see where the road takes me with every step?
So I did. I found an opportunity where I could travel to a place I’ve never been to, live on my own for a year but still not face the responsibilities of adulthood. I was working under a volunteer contract for an NGO I haven’t known before, despite its size and presence across the globe. Service Civil International.

I soon got to realise, many people take an ESC project as a chance to figure out their life, what they want to do, what they are good at, or what they need to improve on. Now looking back at the year I spent at the International Secretariat of SCI in Antwerp, unfortunately, I can’t say that I found the answers to all of the questions above (though I certainly know people who did). Still, I wouldn’t say my experience wasn’t fruitful, far from it. Under the context of the pandemic, my time in Belgium was one of personal development. Lots of acceptance and letting go. A trial of optimism and patience. This might sound pretty rough, but I actually believe I was pretty lucky especially in the people department. The fellow volunteers I met made my stay valuable in my eyes. Together with them even during the strictest lockdown, we found ways to enjoy our time. You see I am still very much far from figuring out what I want to do with my life. And slipping back to real life after this project is most definitely tough. But I am so glad I took a year to gain this experience and would never change it for anything else. Besides why look so much ahead in life when even one stumble can change the whole course of it in a direction you never thought you would take? What I mean is that I will stick with taking life step by step.

My step into SCI left its mark on me and now I will see where my next stride will take me on this stroll we call life.


This volunteering experience was possible thanks to the European Solidarity Corps programme of the European Union, and supported by the Belgian National Agency JINT.

Co-funded by the European Solidarity Corps of the European Union

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