Art and culture
European Solidarity Design was a most wonderful experience!
Long term volunteering
Written by Isanne ten Have from Netherlands
I left early in the morning to Schiphol. Here the nerves struck me and once I was on the plane this continued to persist. But then I thought of the reasons I had chosen for the project. I really wanted to learn in a different way then by the classical school setting, and it also seemed very cool to get to know another country, a different culture and a different language. When I arrived in Bucharest I was warmly welcomed by someone from the organization and we went by public transport to my flat. I was the first one to arrive. I had a “what I’m doing here” moment, but then a volunteer who had been there for a long time took me to another apartment with volunteers, which made me feel much better at ease. When my team also arrived, I finally started my project: “European Solidarity Design “, in short ESD.
I had several tasks: in a group of mostly 5 volunteers we worked in a hospital in clinical animation. In addition, we went with a group of volunteers to special schools to do some fun and useful activities with the children and we taught about the Netherlands to classes throughout the city. Usually the lesson had the theme ‘ Solidarity ‘. In addition, we also wanted to share what we did, so we kept an Instagram- and a Facebook account where we shared photos and videos of our activities. In between we worked on a campaign to collect money and we participated in a children’s festival. At the end of the project I started gardening with the children of a special kindergarten and in one hospital. I started this project because I noticed that in Romania relatively little has been done to consciously deal with nature and the environment.
Besides me, were in my team three girls from Austria, Spain and Portugal. A total of 20 volunteers worked at my organisation. They came mainly from Spain, France, Italy and Austria, but there was also someone from Greece, someone from Lithuania and there were two more people from Portugal. I was the only Dutch person. The contacts between the volunteers were good and I certainly made friendship for life, especially with my team. It’s incredible how fast you can get close when you work together and live and share everything.
I had contact with the locals mainly during my work and during daily things like shopping. I didn’t had thoroughly contact with locals, because I had such a big group around me of happy volunteers from different countries, that I actually didn’t feel an extreme need to go to find more people. However, I found it very interesting to integrate in the daily life of the people and frequently I was warmly welcomed, especially when they heard about the type of work I did.
In the months I spent in Romania there were too many special moments to mention in such a short notice. It is impossible to mention all of these, but one thing I won’t easily forget is the feeling of my last week there. My team and I and our two other roommates were of course rather emotional about the upcoming departure. We decided to really make the last period a special one. We went out together, we ate together and hugged each other when we sang emotional songs. When we showed our final video to all the other volunteers at our farewell party, they responded with joy and cheer. That last week and especially on that last evening I felt very connected with my team of roommates and fellow volunteers that I had spent the last few months with. This was a tremendously beautiful moment for me.
Summarized, it was an experience with every imaginable type of emotion. I am grateful for this experience and look back to a beautiful period in my life!