And November came
The beginning or November was the time when I truly realized that I was in a foreign place leaving everything behind and jumping in a new life. As you can imagine there was nothing easy in the beginning and I had my “cultural sock“ in the first few days.
Let me explain you what it means. It is that state of mind when you realize that your life changed radically and everything is more difficult to be done. For me it manifested as finding very hard to live in a place with more people around and to work in a totally different manner. I expressed from the first beginning my intention of working with people and when I found out that I would work with kids I was very happy, but I never knew how it would be. When I realized that I could not see the immediate results of my work and that there is a very strong language barrier, that my time is somehow not as productive as in the past and that I need to strive even to understand what the children are asking me, I felt very frustrate and disappointed. But what I also found out is that IT IS NORMAL. It is absolutely normal and the majority of the people goes through this phase in a new environment.
What I did? First of all, I had to relax. I started with setting my mind that I need time, after a discussion with the project coordinator. And the time was the answer. But not letting time just to pass, no, no. Taking time to think and to learn. I started learning Greek to solve the language barrier and this is for me a good motivation to keep studying it.
I started to feel useful by helping the children with the mathematics homework since the “language of numbers“ is the same anywhere and I started to go with the children to their activity, for example football, where I really enjoyed seeing their performance. I was surrounded by really nice people from Arsis and especially the social workers from the House of Arsis who helped me a lot to interact with the children. Together with Maria, one of the best social worker that ever meet, we were doing Christmas decorations with the children, like calendars for knowing when the Santa is coming.
The month ended in the most inspiring way, namely with a training course, the On arrival training course which, personally, I found very useful. The training course was a very good way to know that all the volunteers have similar difficulties, to discuss with the others about how we feel about our projects, to know others` situation and to try to reflect to our mission as volunteers. It was a perfect way to create a network. Also for me was a good way to reflect on my personal things that I have to improve in order to work better with the children and rediscover that this experience should be a great one.
Also as a good part of being a volunteer is the possibility of going a weekend trips with your flatmates and enjoying the wonderful landscapes of a new country. This is also a good way for a team building activity. We discovered in November the beautiful Meteora place, the impressive waterfall in Edesa and the hot springs in Pozar.
Resume of the month in terms of learning:
- Things that I had to improve in November: to be patient, to be more lenient with the others, to be more indulgent with myself too.
- Things that I learnt in November: to wait, to take time, to see the things from another perspective, to understand different points of view, to reflect, to keep my motivation in studying Greek (and I learnt the basic words in Greek).
- Things that I still have to improve after November passed: to put a good thought in front of every bad thing, to try to do not emphasize the negative thoughts and to keep the good attitude, to improve my Greek language, to improve my Spanish language.
ESC volunteer in Arsis (October 2019 – April 2020)