6 questions for volunteers: the old-timers vs the newcomers

Multiple goodbyes and hellos can make volunteering a challenge. However, this challenge teaches us how to build deep interpersonal connections in a fast and high-quality way. Moreover, we discovered that curiosity is our fuel, thus we prepared a set of questions to ask some volunteers on their last day, as well as those, who just arrived. The moral of this story will rely on your own perspective. Well, just as everything else in life.

Name: Erick Ruales 

Nationality: Ecuadorian 

Age: 25

ESC: October 6th, 2020 – October 5th, 2021

Mission in life: Famous football tik-toker

  1. Could you please describe Italians and their culture in three words?

    Not punctual, easy-going, and… pasta, sempre! 
  2. What was the best part of your volunteering experience?

As I always say,  meeting new people and exploring unknown cultures is the most valuable part of my volunteering. In this way, I can discover different points of view, ideas, stories. Helping to organize and manage the youth exchange is surely one of the most interesting parts of my volunteering service. Generally, it takes me time to become close with someone, and I was surprised how easily people were building connections in just one week of the exchange. It was more than just work, it was a deeply emotional, valuable experience.   

  1. What do you value in life more than money?

    Quality time with my friends. We can simply go for a walk, but with them, I can be myself, with no fear to be judged. It’s not that easy to find “your” people, as the modern world is too fast just to spend time together. Also.. well, having money is important 🙂 No, but seriously, it’s also crucial for me to dedicate some time to be alone, to recover.
  2. What would you tell yourself a year ago on your first day of volunteering?

    “Erick, stop worrying about the things which are not that important in the end. Focus on your social and professional skills, not on all those personal issues, challenges in relationships… But well, last year was shitty anyway :)”
  3. How has COVID changed you?

    There was just one thing I truly wanted during and after the lockdowns – to be with my friends, to speak face-to-face, to see each other in real life. I started to value my family more, as some people lost their nearest and dearest, some were not even able to have a proper funeral. I realized how lucky I am, as my family was not affected by COVID. I remember the first time I went to the supermarket once the restrictions were eased, and I felt so… happy. Enjoying and taking care of small ordinary things, that’s what I’ve learned. I would never want to live it through again.
  4. Finally, what makes a Good Team?

    Well, for example, a good football team should consist of players who respect each other. It’s not about being friends, it’s about being respectful. In addition, I believe that empathy is significant, always.

Name: Ana Muguruza

Nationality: Spanish 

Age: 26

ESC: October 5th, 2020 – October 4th, 2021

Mission in life: Not to live in her mom’s house

1. Could you please describe Italians and their culture in three words?
Pizza, pasta…to be late. 

2. What was the best part of your volunteering experience?

The other volunteers, and generally people I met here. In the end, they created the memories I will keep forever. Due to COVID-19, we shared a lot of time watching movies, eating pizzas, supporting one another. We’ve made the best out of what we had. 

3. What do you value in life more than money?

Experiences, better good than bad ones! Money will come and go, but your memories and experiences will remain. I remember we once were drinking vodka on the balcony, and that was better than any fancy restaurant because we shared our tiny balcony with the people we liked.

4. What would you tell yourself a year ago on your first day of volunteering?
“Breathe. Don’t kill anyone:)”

5. How has COVID changed you?

I learned how to be alone and not to be lonely. Many people are unable to be by themselves even for a few days, but I am comfortable in my own company, and I am sure that is useful nowadays. 

6. Finally, what makes a Good Team?

A bunch of things. First, communication is vital, and the ability to cooperate. Let me highlight, the willingness and readiness of people to work together and hear each other, these are the essentials.

Oh, and one thing for the future volunteers: good luck, guys! Trust no one 🙂


Name: Sara Barreiro Baldaia

Nationality: Portuguese

Age: 22

ESC: October 15th, 2021 – December 14th, 2021

Mission in life: Be able to sleep less than 8 hours and still be productive.

1. Could you please describe Italians and their culture in three words? 
Food, fashion, music. 

2. What do you think will be the best part of your volunteering experience?

When I saw this volunteer opportunity, I couldn’t help but be super excited to participate in it!
Eufemia’s mission and its projects have everything to do with me! I have always been super attached to environmental issues and in the last three years, I have developed a huge fascination for issues related to human rights in general. I think the best part of this opportunity is being able to work on projects related to everything I stand for! It’s a fantastic opportunity and I feel super grateful to be a part of it! I feel that it will bring me a lot of advantages for my whole life and unforgettable moments! It will make me feel super fulfilled to be able to work in areas that I defend so much!

3. What do you value in life more than money? 

It is undeniable that, in the world we live in, money is essential for us to have a decent and comfortable life. However, the greatest pleasures in life do not come from money. For me, much more valuable than money are the friendships and the moments we spend with those we love, inner peace, contact with nature and the peace we feel when doing it, a swim in the sea, the moments that I spend with my dog, help the other… and after all, these are all things that do not depend directly on the money! 

4. What would be one thing you would tell yourself a year ago? 

The past year was quite difficult for me and there were times when I felt there was no way out… But here I am, super happy because, despite everything, things ended up working out! So what I would say to myself would be, “Sara, calm down!  Bad times happen to make us grow and to teach ourselves that we are capable of overcoming them! So take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and believe that you are worth more than you think, believe that you are capable of overcoming this moment and that there are good things to come! Everything will be fine!

5. How has COVID changed you? 

COVID changed the world! And it changed each of us, in many different ways. If I already valued spending time with those I like and enjoying the moments, after covid this feeling got even bigger! I learned that sometimes taking a break from everything is good for us and makes us gain new perspectives (even if this break has a bad reason, as in the case of COVID). I also learned that despite how much we can plan something, there are always things that we don’t control, that completely change our course, but overcoming these adversities makes us grow! I also went through worse moments of anxiety and depression, but once again, I overcame that and now I see I learned a lot with that too. I think that in general, COVID shook up all of our lives, but today I value everything more and I know I have to do what I really like and enjoy every moment to the fullest!  Live the present intensely.

6. Finally, what makes a Good Team?

I think that a good team is formed with different people, with different ways of thinking, different perspectives and experiences of life, so that a greater diversity of ideas is possible, in order to have a richer and more diverse work. Of course, it is also essential that the members have team spirit, know how to listen to each other, and are willing to work together! Diversity is a success!


Name: Julien

Nationality: Prench

Age: 23

ESC: October 15th, 2021 – December 14th, 2021

Mission in life: being able to not lose my keys or bankcard



1. Could you please describe Italians and their culture in three words? 

I don’t know if I am able to answer this question cause I don’t know anything about Italian culture 😅
But according to my cliché, I would say this: gastronomy, art, automobile. 

2. What do you think will be the best part of your volunteering experience?

I think my volunteering will be fun, meanful and I hope i will be able to get soft skills. It will also be a lot of gathering with new people! 

3. What do you value in life more than money?

In life, I value friendship more than money. Living in a safe and comfortable environment thanks to people around me is something really important in my opinion. 

4. One thing you would tell yourself a year ago?

It is funny that I have to answer this question cause I can’t stop thinking about it for a year. I am obsessed with it because my life changed a lot in one year. But I think I wouldn’t say anything special to myself a year ago apart from “be honest and follow your instinct, you will manage even with a difficult situation.”

5. How has COVID changed you?

COVID has changed me as I have started thinking “short-term”, planning projects. Because everything is uncertain you have to be ready to change your plan at the last minute. Pandemic has changed me in that way: I am more adaptable.

6. Finally, what makes a Good Team?

In my opinion, a good team is a team with people from different cultures who lived several experiences. Supplementing is the key. And the perfect team is when your colleagues are your friends.

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