4 Months | European Solidarity Corps
First of all, I didn’t think about going to Cyprus, it happened by chance, I took this opportunity
and I will tell you why. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, it’s a childhood dream. Of course, I traveled a lot in Europe
mainly, but it was always for holidays and with French people. This time I dreamed of a real immersion, no hotel holidays!
Then, in early September 2019, I received an email indicating that a Cypriot NGO was looking for a volunteer for a project from September to December: a volunteer on tour. I jumped at the opportunity! I’ve never been to Cyprus, I don’t speak a single Greek word, but why not? After all, it will be an opportunity for perfect immersion, to help an NGO and people, to improve my English, to learn a new culture… and then: to open up a little more to other people – because I am shy and don’t dare to embark on adventure projects. And that’s why, I’m going to show you few examples of projects that I’ve made with PlanBe, Plan it be it NGO.
– Work in the village + preparation of the wine festival, Arsos-
Together with another volunteer, for two weeks, we helped the village of Arsos, in the Troodos Mountain Range, helping the mayor of the village restore several parts of the village. The first restoration work was the benches of the village square. It was very hot, but the village pope always took care of us by bringing us coffee, but Cypriot coffee. I had a bit of a problem at first with climate change, because mid September is already very cold in my region, in France. But the varied activities have allowed me to become more familiar with the local culture.
The second activity was to restore the various gates of the village church. So I learned to sand, smooth and varnish wood: activities that were then unknown to me until now. Then the village organized the traditional wine festival which to it every year after the harvest at the end of September. We were therefore asked to build up cork worms that we had to paint in memory in the village.
– Youth Festival, Nicosia (28 September 2019) –
Together with the entire PlanBe team, we held a booth at the Up To Youth Festival in Acropolis Park as part of
the promotion of European mobility. We therefore advised interested persons as well as make a recycling workshop with plastic where we made wallets and handbags. The event concerns youth directly, and they are its protagonists, since
its aim is to showcase youth as one of the most vibrant and hope-bearing groups of society.
– On arrival training – Nicosia –
The arrival seminar of the National Agency aims to train us in European volunteering and to give us the necessary keys to its smooth running. We have the first day was welcomed at the hotel by the coaches and were able to meet the various volunteers; we were 11 volunteers from 5 different nationalities (Italians, Spanish, Greeks, Belgian and French). We learned the different forms of education. It was very interesting because in addition to formal education (school, university, etc.) there is non-formal education (such as the European Solidarity Corps) and informal education (the one we learn in everyday life). We were housed at the hotel Europa Plaza which is very comfortable. Every day we had excellent meals. As we were free in the evening, we were able to discover the nightlife of Nicosia and its famous «Ledra street». It was really great to find ourselves between different nationalities, we were able to exchange on our culture and learn a
few words in other languages. But the funniest was the discoveries of music with the organizers who made us discover traditional Greek music!
– Outdoor Folk Art Museum – Derynia –
Together with Éliza and another volunteer, we went to a café in the village of Derynia to make a new recycling workshop. It was co-organised by the European Office in Cyprus. We were again in charge of presenting the possibilities of exchanges of young people, volunteering or internships abroad while participating in a fun activity.
– Mushroom Festival of Spilia village –
The mayor of the village asked the NGO Plan Be, in order for volunteers to come and participate in the preparation of the mushroom festival. Indeed, every year, the small mountain village of Spilia, located in the heart of the Troodos massif,
organizes a major mushroom festival in the fall. So we came 5 volunteers on the first day and 3 the second to help with the preparation. So on the first day, we cleaned up garbage and weeds and then made space for the different facilities.
Then, on the second day, we set up the tables and put up the festival posters. They invited us to eat in the restaurant of the village where we ate traditional dishes and the famous mushroom.
– Presentation – Pascal School –
At the request of the school management we went to a private high school to present the opportunities that the variety of Erasmus+ programmes can offer them. We were responsible for raising awareness among a class of pupils between 13 and 14 daring to go abroad. While it was not always easy to capture their attention, we tried to make games as well as “nonformal” activities not to annoy them. Some students were particularly attentive and came after us to ask for additional information – especially for youth exchanges – the only possibility of possible international trade from the age of 16.
– Painting – Theater
-I helped a few days, other volunteers who worked on a decoration work for Christmas in an establishment specialized in helping people in difficulty.We were in charge of painting 8 wooden paintings, which would be used for the presentation of the Christmas exhibition. It was very pleasant, because we were able to do a little more artistic work and more relaxing than the physical work we had done before. The staff of the establishment were very warm, and always attentive to our needs or requests. This climate of well-being has allowed us to do a great team work, although my drawing and
painting skills are a bit basic
– Erasmus Day – University of Nicosia –
As for the presentation at Pascal High School, at the request of the management of the University of Nicosia, we held a stand to present the opportunities that the variety of Erasmus + program can offer to students this time. So we held a presentation booth, and with Éliza and another volunteer we inform students interested in international opportunities. And after a few public presentations, I felt more comfortable talking in public, especially since they were students like me, with the same desires but also the same questions.
I returned to France in mid-December, coming back stronger than at the beginning of the project. I have overcome many fears: the unknown, the language barrier, living in a roommate… But one thing is certain: this project was an extraordinary experience. It’s totally different from what I could imagine, but that’s what made me stronger: not planning, go with the flow, and just “living instead of planning”.