Intercultural dialogue

The shortest and longest year of my life

Long term volunteering

Written by Ambra from Albania

July 2023

One year ago, I was presented with an exciting opportunity that somehow reshaped my opinions and provided me with great memories. 

At the time, I was taking a break from my studies and looking for something entirely new, meaningful, and outside of my comfort zone. I sought an experience that ticked all these boxes, and that’s when I stumbled upon the communication position at SCI International Secretariat.

In the blink of an eye, everything unfolded rapidly, transporting me from my cozy couch in sunny Tirana to a shared flat in the vibrant city of Antwerp.

Stepping into this role marked my first long-term volunteering, and truth be told, I cherished every moment of it. The shared office environment provided me with immense joy as I engaged in discussions with my international colleagues, exchanged opinions, and acquired many new skills. 

Throughout my time at IS, I learned valuable lessons about the importance of community, giving back, sustainability, and creating societal value. Every person I met gave me a life lesson and I will always be grateful for that!

Reflecting upon the past year, I still cannot believe the personal growth I have experienced. I discovered my own limits, developed a deep appreciation for humanity, and cultivated a strong desire to expand my horizons continuously. 

When I embarked on this journey one year ago, I could have never fathomed the magnitude of what I would achieve in such a short span of time. I actively participated in various training programs, connected with hundreds of inspiring individuals, embraced a new city as my own, forged cherished memories both at home and in the office, and acquired invaluable professional expertise. Each experience illuminated my path and broadened my perspectives.

One year ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I would create a second home far away from my roots, nestled in the heart of Antwerp. Whether it was the corner office, the window view from my room, or the warm embrace of a colleague, these elements formed the essence of my home away from home. It’s a place I hold dear to my heart, and I will forever carry its love with me. This newfound home where one day, I might come back…