May was my last month in Thessaloniki, probably the most intense and beautiful of the four months I have spent in Greece.The city has changed completely since the Covid restrictions have been eased; everywhere is full of life and it feels like everything has awoken from a long sleep – like a spring on steroids! It’s been so nice to finally sit at a ταβέρνα with my friends and enjoy all the delicious food and wine that Greece can offer. In this sense, it’s been a very hedonistic month and I have also really enjoyed the little excursions I took around the region. Above all, I absolutely loved the Olympus national park – hiking on those beautiful mountains and in such lush nature gave me so much energy and it is what I needed after long months of lockdown.
It was also a very emotional month. On a personal level, coming to the end of my volunteering experience at the House of Arsis and at the shelter in Pylaia made me think of everything I have learned in these very full months. I was not prepared at all to feel so attached to the children and boys I worked with. It was incredibly hard saying goodbye. But most of all, I had not envisaged how much I received back from all of them. I feel so very thankful for all the love and gratefulness they expressed and I have learned so much from their resilience, kindness, and openness – I will never forget it. On my last day at the House of Arsis, I remember observing the little children preparing their dinner and helping each other – it moved me so much seeing them sitting at that long table all together like a real family: I think that sharing a meal, the space you live in, the toys you play with, and so on, is such an important lesson of solidarity and care, something anyone (especially who is more privileged) should experience and learn.
My last week at Pylaia was also amazing. I had so much fun during a field trip to a ranch, where we went horse riding. Some of the boys are just hilarious and we always have a lot of fun with David and Ginevra and our repertoire of inside jokes. During my last day, I went for a walk to the park in the neighborhood with David, Ginevra and three of my favorite students. We took pictures and when we had to say goodbye it was suuuper sad. I hope they will be able to realize their dreams and reach the countries they wish to move to, because they are such amazing and talented human beings and they deserve everything.
Last, but not least, saying goodbye to my friends was also very tough. I am so grateful I have met such amazing people, each and every one has something unique and unforgettable, that inspired and enriched me. I might have not learned much Greek (in fact, my Greek is really embarrassing), but I left Thessaloniki much richer than before and much more confident about what I want to do with my life and what I stand for.