Being a volunteer.
Cyprus was not what I expected, nor what was planned, it was not what I should have done but I did it.
I made the journey of life that everyone expects a person to do: I was good at school, I passed my exams, I enrolled in a university that would give me a future job, I got good grades and I graduated. but inside I felt that something was missing. something new, something that was not the way your study choices lead you to go, and Cyprus seemed like a great choice: the island of Venus, rich in history, influences, the last European state with a divided city and above all … full of cats, I couldn’t give up.
I packed my suitcase with everything I needed, and also something useless. Then I opened another bag, and put my insecurities in it. I wasn’t sure whether to take it with me but in the end, I decided to take it, because if there was a suitable place to open a bag like that it was right away from home.
I didn’t start with the utmost enthusiasm, I have to be honest. I had no idea what I was going through, and that scared me. The first few days were strange, full of anxieties and doubts. But why did I come here? What did I think I could find? Why is nothing new happening, nothing beautiful?
The house far from the city, with no friends, new work, made me feel confused and alone. But Cyprus has come to my aid, because it has its own rules, starting with time. You have no choice, you have to learn to wait. You can’t run, you can’t expect to have everything right away, you can just wait and enjoy all that comes. So I stopped, I started breathing again (maybe years later) and I waited.
Little by little this experience entered my heart: my colleagues, my roommates, all those who ended up on my way took on a role, some became indispensable friends, eyes with which to confront and in which to seek comfort; I never imagined I could exchange so much with people I had known for so little time.
Moreover, Cyprus is beautiful. Nicosia is a mix of extreme modernity and memories, immersed in street art and wooden rooms that make you feel at home. The cities on the sea take your breath away, the villages in the mountains are beautiful.
But the best thing about Cyprus is the people. They are helpful and full of love. Even if you don’t speak their language, you are worthy of their love. With these people the words become relative, they express so much in a single gesture. But what? What is more than words? What is expressed more? Love.
They have so much love inside, but also a lot of pain. Yes, Cyprus is a wounded country, deeply wounded, and so are young and old. You walk in the street and you feel the pain, a wound that still burns in everyone’s hearts. People would rather not talk about the occupation, because it hurts, but they have to do it, just because it hurts, and everyone has to know, everyone must know what it feels like to lose what was unthinkable to lose, a piece of heart and soul. I’m afraid I can’t understand this feeling in full, but I heard it, I saw it.
I have seen pupils vibrate every time and create a steady gaze, for a moment, just a moment, that speaks more than all the voices put together. That’s why in Cyprus you have to learn to go beyond words.
That’s why I say that Cyprus is magical. It leads you to introspection, to reflection, you have no choice but to immerse us in it. In this experience, I learned a lot: from the practical point of view thanks to the working part but above all to the personal level. You don’t know what it is until you go there. You think you are going to get to know something new and in fact, you find yourself in a new home in a new city but dealing with yourself, only with him. With whom have you avoided for years, that person you occasionally saw, in passing, in a mirror, but you looked away, as fast as you could, who knows maybe out of fear.
And now it reappears, more and more often, less and less hidden. In everyday activities, in your behaviors, in your reactions, you discover, you discover you have many nuances within you, both beautiful and ugly. But it shouldn’t scare you, that’s just another part of you, and you can only welcome it.
It’s always you, but more colorful and full of energy. And sometimes you don’t know how to handle it, this energy, but sometimes you feel that you really need it and then you leave, you leave for a new adventure, take that reflection you were so afraid of and go, go …
Making a volunteer experience doesn’t change you, it just makes you more yourself.