Long term volunteering
Written by Esther Hernández Díaz from Spain, Madrid
I was scared. All my life I dreamed of living in a European city but my family responsibilities, jobs, or studies did not leave me the chance to find this opportunity. Finally, it was here. I was selected to be a communication officer for a full year in an NGO headquartered in Antwerp, financed by a European Solidarity Corps (ESC) project. A long term volunteering opportunity that matches my professional profile and career aspirations.
The fears appeared suddenly when I was trying to sleep the night previous to my first day in the office. After that, I had a pleasant flight from Madrid to Brussel, I met my roommates at the cozy volunteers’ house and I had the chance to share a nice dinner together. But when I was alone at the bed I started to think that my language skills were not enough to develop my assigned tasks on this NGO, Service Civil Internacional (SCI). So I started my first week with my mind full of insecurities about my English.
I can only say that something magical happens when you meet the SCI family. Conversation after conversation, talk after talk, meeting after meeting, task after task, reading after reading… when I realized, I felt integrated. I became part of a huge international peace movement. I got to be a valued member of a diverse team, working together, motivated, and impregnated by good vibes.
Now, going through my memories, doing a balance, I can write that, of course, I improved my language skills a lot but it was not the most relevant to my life. Not. Definitely I experienced situations that developed my skills, I discovered realities that changed my mind, I met people that enlarged my heart and I found purposes that touched my soul.
ESC is an exchange experience where you give and receive a lot of energy, inspiration, ideas, ways to do… You influence others, as others influence you. For that, I invite you to find your project and propel your life with this international exchange. It is a positive experience with which we all win. For me, it meant self-knowledge, professional development, and social commitment. What will it mean to you? Do you dare to try it? 😉