Volunteering projects is one of many ways to grow, explore, support local communities. European Solidarity Corps projects focuses on these things and helps to create projects and experiences for youth in EU and outside of it. Here is an experience from our volunteer Jānis, who right now resides in Italy: It can take me a lot to describe what I have experienced in my volunteering experience if I start from the beginning. But short story short, I did not expect half of the things, if not everything, happening during the past 6-months. I did not expect to live in a remote village, become a part-time photographer to end up learning that I do not want to be one. And above everything, I did not expect to lose my dreadlocks. I did not expect to do a lot of DIY work around the office and flat. I did not expect to create a video about the youth exchange that took place. I did not expect to cook food for participants who came for projects, and neither did they, I believe. If you have said I will understand what I want out of life, I would have taken you for a scoundrel or charlatan.
During the past 6-months, I have explored nearby villages, ate more pizzas than in my whole life and worked on helping the youth organisation with day to day things. I admit, often it felt like work, but that is a small part of what can be done in this playground as I like to describe it. Above everything I did, nowhere I have had the option to choose or change what I'm doing. Want to take photos? Here is the camera. Want to explore graphic design? Here is the website you can design. Wanted to try facilitating a workshop? Chose the day, theme and go for it. Speaking of which makes me more excited about the capabilities the ESC program can offer to young people. Instead of being scared of choosing the wrong things to do, I get to experiment and explore them. The kinds of things that are not comfortably done in everyday life when I am back at home.
There is more to it, but I will stop here to keep you less glued to your digital device. Which is one of the methodologies I get to explore - mindfulness within a digital environment. Pretty cool when you get to disconnect and be with nature, which here is abundance."