Vi har fått ett brev från Michela från Italien som är volontär på Centralen i Lomma. Det är en generös berättelse om hennes första tid i Sverige och hur det är att vara volontär via European Solidarity Corps. Tack för ditt brev Michela!
I am Michela from Italy and I will be volunteering until September 2021 in Centralen, one of the youth centers in the beautiful Lomma kommun. I am part of the European Solidarity Corps which is an initiative for people between 18 and 30 years old: European Commission funds volunteering projects all around the continent to benefit the wider community.
After graduating from university in March, I followed my desire to have a volunteering experience abroad. European Solidarity Corps offered me exactly what I was looking for: an established project which centers on learning new competences and meeting new life and work styles. My main goal was to focus on youth work. For some years I have been volunteering for an NGO that runs a youth center in my hometown. Our next goal is to set an agreement with our municipality to have the facility on our own and I was seeking a chance to observe an already well-established partnership.
I chose the “Youth 4 Youth” project in Lomma because it struck me as the perfect opportunity to pursue my goal. Needless to say, I was also so excited about the opportunity to live one – full – year in the beautiful country of Sweden!
I have started my experience in Lomma in the beginning of October after being selected in the summer. The first couple weeks of this experience have been tough. Everything was new, foreign and in Swedish! However, it quickly improved thanks to the welcoming environment in the youth center. The activities in Centralen have been challenging me on various aspects. First of all, the language barrier made it difficult to properly communicate, especially with the youngest visitors. Many of the 4th graders don’t feel comfortable with their English. But yet, they always tried their best to talk to me and, on my side, I am working really hard on my Swedish. We are working to meet in the middle, and that’s exactly what the ESC projects are all about, both the volunteers and the community who welcomes them are given the opportunity to continuously question themselves and widen their horizons.
In the middle of November, it was time for all the ESC volunteers in Sweden to gather and participate in the “on arrival” training course offered by the MUCF (Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society). Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, MUCF decided that it was safest to hold the training as digital meetings. Volunteers from all over the world gathered on Zoom and shared thoughts, experiences, feelings and impressions about their first weeks in Sweden. Even if we couldn’t meet in person, we made contact through digital means and we are still talking. After the training course week, I could resume my regular activities with youth in Centralen. It was first difficult for me to fit into the well-oiled working machine in Lomma’s youth centers. It took me quite a while to really understand the structure of this organization. As the time went by and with the help of the other youth workers, I was able to feel included and be part of the team.
I’m learning every day from this experience since I’m not used to a strong structured organization that deals with youth work. I’ve got the chance to observe my colleagues plan and offer activities to the youth. They have set up a project for mellanstadiet’s pupils that went on for the whole autumn term and we recently had the final event to give it a rewarding ending. This has enlightened me on the importance of long term projects and the importance of guiding the pupils to a settled goal. I am also putting a strong effort on improving my time management and team working skills.
Since everyone’s safety is the most important priority at the moment, many programmed activities at the youth center have been postponed. For the time being, I am planning some future projects. My aim is to bring awareness about European citizenship to the community and to engage the youth of the municipality through my activities. I’m sure I can bring my own personal share to Centralen, with my background in puppet theatre and languages and cultures teaching. I also found out through MUCF’s training course that two other volunteers are living in Malmö, also quite near to my accommodation. We have been meeting regularly since November and we are planning together some future activities to be held in the youth center.
And now, winter break is coming and I am looking forward to spending a very Swedish Christmas in Malmö. After winter holidays, spring term will start and I can’t wait to begin with the new activities!
ESC volunteer in the youth center Centralen, Lomma Municipality