Writing a testimony about an experience is always difficult work. There are so many aspects about the time period spent abroad, and to summarise it in a short text is challenging, but in order to be at least helpful, I will pretend to write these words to a young person. A young person that is considering and evaluating whether or not to join an ESC project or any relevant European project.
New generations and young people can be said to hold the future of a united Europe on their shoulders. We represent the change of a more inclusive continent that is aware that the differences of countries are not divisive, rather a celebration and need that shapes us as people. Exploring, meeting people and sharing discussions are always a way to grow as individuals. Accepting the fact that there are different ways to see and experience life, we discover the rare gems that are hidden in the people we come across.
A movement in Europe, followed by politicians and people in power tend to take advantage of differences to divide and scare people, using these instincts to maintain their power. This movement is populism and it is dangerous. Furthermore, there is a Latin motto that populists are very aware of: “divide et impera” - “divide and conquer.
History proves the effectiveness of this motto through the division, rivalry and discord of peoples’ benefits as they are being dominated. This cannot bring positive results to the people and specially to younger generations. Having said that, young people need to share a culture of cohesion, anti fascism, anti racism and respect towards diversity by sharing and educating ourselves as much as possible.
If you are considering joining a European project, i can only tell you DO it!
This is what a European project like ESC does. It makes thousands of singularities possible. Although it's true that you will never exactly know what will happen there, but only someone that does, will eventually know. Only the ones that do something have the chance to learn, even by making mistakes. Don’t be afraid! And if you are, do so and face your fear. Living in a foreighn country for a period of time will only make you stronger, wiser and more aware of things. You will become mentally open, experiencing fun times. I am not selling you a product of partial truth therefore have in mind the difficult times as well. You might get homesick and will go through stages that don’t feel particularly well, but the people you’ll meet there will become your friends, and friends help each other.
To finish this testimony and to illustrate the ‘’bright side’’ of this experience, i want to share a specific outcome: a Facebook post i made at the end of my project and journey describing all the emotions i felt two days before my departure from the island that hosted me for over a year.
“I'll leave Cyprus soon, and would like to thank my sending organization “Associazione InCo” and my hosting organization “YEU Cyprus” for giving me this incredible opportunity: I really enjoyed this year abroad and I learned a lot from it. I strongly recommend young people to apply for a European Solidarity Corps project: when I applied (thanks to the advice of a very close friend of mine), I had almost reached the age limit, and I'll never regret it!
Of course, I never imagined ending this experience with a global pandemic, that's why I'll send here my greetings to all the people I'll not meet in person during these lasts days on the island. For sure I'll remember these exceptional times forever!
Indeed, with the occasion of this post, I would like to say "see you soon!" to all the people I met here, was a pleasure to spend time with you all: I will remember the work with all my colleagues in the project, the events, the workshops, the festivals, and the cultural parties! Of course, I'll remember all the nights spent in Hoi Polloi with them and with all the local and international community people I met: the talks, the chess and tavli games, the amazing lemonades (to start) and then the beers and the brandy sour, the music and the nice messy environment; and also the rooftop parties and the gatherings, the barbecues and the never-ending walks!
If you've been patient enough to read this post so far, you have to know that, if in the future you’ll pass in Italy, send a message: it will be a pleasure to try to organize an aperitif with a good glass of wine!
See you soon, then, and take care!”
If this wasn’t enough, i'll just say: Don’t spend all your life thinking about something. Think, of course but then DO. If you want to join an ESC project or another European project don’t overthink it. Make the decision and Do it.
For yourself, for your future.