Here you will read testimonial of volunteers and activists of BBA that participate in our projects. This section seeks to give them space to express their ideas experiences and feelings in regards to their participation and engagements in different activities, locally, nationally and internationally.
The ongoing project in Sarajevo about Volunteering Connecting Communities has been an amazing and productive experience. The energizers, group workshops that are not only divided by nationalities but even in random mixed groups promote intercultural exchange and give us the opportunity to explore different mindsets and points of view.
This particular type of activity is really beneficial to all of us because we are creating a very diverse chain of youth volunteers which are really passionate into implementing all these new teachings in their home towns. The project managers are willing to help us with any question that comes up along the way and their choice of destination was impeccable as well. We are having a really nice time because along with working during the workshop we are balancing it with trips like the one we took in Visoko, the tunnels that lead to the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun and in the city centre as well.
The group presentations were well planned out and everyone had a great knowledge about what they were talking about, this because of the fact that all of us had selected to make campaigns about problems that touched and affected our daily life.
This experience, the people that we got to meet, the places we visited and the amazing Bosnian food are things that only Erasmus+ experiences can offer.
It’s 23 of may and we are on a road trip to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a group of friends. It’s not a normal trip but it has a big purpose in it, which is a seminar “Volunteering connecting communities”.
We are having so much fun while exploring the nature from the windows of the car, don’t forgetting to mention the good music too, all of us singing, shouting and enjoy the moment. The trip started from Tirana, then we passed the border of Montenegro and after that the BiH one.
Finally we arrived! It’s 3 am in the morning and we aren’t tired yet anyway we slept so we could have been fresh in the morning. Now it’s the time that the Albanian group officially starts the ongoing project by presenting in the best way ourselves, the country and of course the organization Beyond Barriers that gave us this opportunity.
This project had participants from Serbia, North Macedonia, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina and us from Albania. We worked together, we cooperated with each other through different workshops, while we also hanged out a lot of nights together in the city center, at all kind of bars and cultural places We were curious to learn more about the city from the citizens themselves. We visited the tunnels and the Park of Magic in Sarajevo, we visited Visoko- a small city which welcomed us with its nature. This way we made some other new friends that for sure we will keep in contact.
You think this is the end, just working at workshops in the outdoor places, presenting and some nights out having fun but nope in this project we got to know each other better, we saw how a city is during the morning, lunch and dinner, we know now where the best food is being served, where are the cheapest shops to buy gifts and make a great deal for your pocket, we felt like the real citizens in their home and their country. We also learned what volunteers can do as the power of a community, how we can engage in volunteer work and what are the volunteering benefits.
I know that sometimes the word can’t describe the best of an experience but for those who got triggered just by this small description feel free to join in our organization so you can be the next one, who knows maybe next time we can be together also! 🙂
Lots of love, Kamila.
My name is Simone Cuccu, I’m from Cagliari and I’m a ESC Volunteer in Beyond Barriers since September 2020. The project that I’m implementing with my colleague Lorenzo is call ‘’Promotion of European Values in Albania’’ and my sending organisation is Studenti per la Città. Our project needed to start on March 2020 but, cause Covid-19, we must postpone it. Before the coronavirus situation I was very thrilled to start this project, because I was going in one of the most important NGO in the Balkan Region and I could have the opportunity to promote the European Values in which I believe. With the Covid-19 situation in Italy and in the rest of the World, I feared I wouldn’t have the opportunity to come in Tirana, because maybe the project would be canceled. Fortunately, in September I had the opportunity to start the project and I said yes without thinking for a moment. I choose to be a ESC volunteer in Albania because I want to give my contribution in the Albanian community, raising the awareness about the European Values and the opportunity for the Albanian young people that the European Union give them (Es: Erasmus+/European Solidarity Corps). During these six months of ESC I spent my days, mainly, in the office, since Covid-19 blocked a lot of activities in presence, forcing us to do them on Zoom. But this situation didn’t stop me to learn from the activities that we have done in these months, for example I had the opportunity to learn how to coach an organisation/municipality for the ESC Quality Label Accreditation or how to prepare the Outlines for a Youth Exchange. I have already work in an NGO in Cagliari, but now I feel more confident and, for sure, this experience here in Beyond Barriers will help me in my professional future.
Also, this ESC project in Albania, help me to grow as a person and to find my path. For me is the first time that I live without my family and this is an important step in my life, because I want to reach my indipendece and my happiness. This experience in an ESC project help me to go out from my confort zone, meet new people and discover a new country and its’ culture.Talking about the culture, my adaptation in the Albanian culture wasn’t very difficult, because I think there are a lot of common points with the Italian culture and also thanks to BBA’s help. Also I’m trying, with the help of our Supervisor, to learn Albanian language because I think is one of the first step to really fit in a new country and it helps to understand a lot about their culture. Started a ESC project was, for sure, one of the better choices that I have done in my life, I suggest everyone to do it because it is a perfect way to explore a new culture, challenge yourself and an amazing life changing experience that nobody can forget.
Hello everyone, my name is Lorenzo, I am 27 years old and I am a proud Sardinia’s son. I don’t know how many of You know where is Sardinia. I can tell you that is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and the most beautiful in the world, and if you are curious, you can check it on Instagram! You will find thousands of pictures of unspoiled landscapes, beautiful seaside, breath-taking sunsets, pictures of fancy clubs and disco and so on. The best life ever, right? But I want to tell you a secret, Sardinia is a golden cage. We have, for instance, one of the most polluted areas in all Europe, one of the highest levels of early school leaving and one of the highest rates of youth migrations in Italy. Trust me, is not easy to live 365 days/ per year in Sardinia and especially in a small village like mine. But I don’t want to bother you with my lovely island.
I want to tell you a little bit more about me and how I arrive here in Albania. Let’s start from many many years ago, in 2012, when I finished high school, I decided to take my first step “abroad”. I took the decision to leave my small hometown to study at the university. I needed to explore myself and to acquire knowledge to face life. That choice was one of the best ever, you know why? Because not only taught me how to stay far from my family but opened world wide’s doors. Is not rhetoric!!! You don’t believe me? So, listen to me, it’s like a domino effect…since that first step, I didn’t stop yet. First of all, I had the possibility to study new things that I never thought before could happen, I had the possibility to meet new people with new ways of thinking and points of view, I could study in another country with a different culture and language and work even in an Embassy with diplomats and politicians all around. Has everything gone well so far? Actually not! In these years I faced many difficulties, the last one, for instance, was the writing of my master thesis…I was stuck!! I was feeling empty, with no ideas and motivations, but the main reason was that I didn’t want to leave the university lifestyle and enter into the adult’s world.
I needed fresh ideas and motivations and I decided to try a new experience to change my life again. Then what I did? I applied for the European Solidarity Corps. Was January when I’ve been selected to implement the project “Promotion of the European Values in Albania”. Meanwhile, the pandemic happened, and I have been able to finish my thesis and to graduate. Such a great coincidence, the pandemic and my graduation! I couldn’t even celebrate with my friends between lockdowns and social distancing but anyway, the important thing was that I managed to arrive in Tirana in September, which was the only thing that I wanted.
I remember well that the days before the departure I was strongly motivated to face the new adventure. A new start, a new step towards the world, as the one towards university had been. But the day of the flight, a lot of questions and perplexity came to my mind. I am doing the right choice? What if I won’t feel well in the new country? And the COVID-19? I was anxious and insecure, but it was too late! Then my first day at work came, I can’t explain how but the anxious faded immediately away and I was ready for the journey.
Since that day, many things happened and many things I have learned. Since the first weeks, I had the impression that here I would feel very well. Of course, this first impression needed time to be confirmed but now I can tell you that live in Albania is not that different to live in Sardinia, we have common values and similar cultural uses. During these months I had the opportunity, for the first time in many years to have a new type of “adventures” and experiences, I even participated in a TV show, incredible! I can tell you that the days as a volunteer are pretty good, I start the day with the “sing” of my neighbour’s rooster, yeah I know its not the best wake up ever but I am used now, then quick breakfast and long shower and I am ready to go in the office. I like to work behind the desk, I could say that it’s my comfort zone! However, during these months, I also understood how important is to be “courageous” and take part in activities that are outside the usual schemes. It is precisely on these occasions that I have been able to challenge myself and grow both from the personal and professional level. I’ve learned for instance how to speak in public, it’s something that is not easy to do if you are a shy person like me! Guess how I could do it? I’ve learned by doing mistakes! Is not for granted in these times that people give you the possibility to “learn by doing ” and this programme is a very good way to learn with this method. It’s also a good way to meet new people and to make new friends and visit new places and cities. I was really impressed by the beauty of this country, the seaside but also the mountains are very wonderful! And the people…very friendly and ready to help you if you are in difficulty. I really love how in my neighbourhood old people and youngster gather together, it gives me an amazing feeling of peace and happiness, it’s something that is not possible see in most of the Italian cities and I am sure I will miss this atmosphere.
Now that I am writing to you, I am almost at the end of my experience and I can tell you that ESC is changing my life. Volunteering with Beyond Barriers has given me the opportunity to work with young people and persons with fewer opportunities and to learn something that is not immediately visible. Something that maybe you already know but I discovered only now. Be happy with what you have, and you will be the most powerful person in this world!