I am Ukrainian and I am ready for everything that could happen in life. At least I thought so, as I came from a society that survived probably everything bad that could have ever happened. But let’s be honest- I was naїve and it makes this experience even more valuable for me. First of all, changes are always difficult. The fun part begins once you accept it, so I decided to be emotionally defenseless and simply live this experience as much as possible. Hence, I can describe my first month in three lessons I’ve learned so far.
Lesson 1: The language matters, but in the end, your attitude is the essential component that defines everything.
Frankly, it was a big surprise, and communicating in English may be a challenge for Italians. Surely, that may be frustrating, but at the same time, it is a unique opportunity to be creative in finding common ground with your interlocutors. I was joining some parts of the huge “Food Pride” project, and the deepness of some conversations got me wondering. For instance, I was asked why I am here, what is food for me, why some people are unable to accept help, and some of them cannot live without helping others. Despite the adamant language barrier we had profound conversations. I was moved to tears how hard people try to make their thoughts clear to me and how attentively they perceived my answers even without understanding a word in English. In the end, the attitude defines everything.
Lesson 2: You always have to choose, but make sure to explore all the variants you have.
I got lucky to work in an organization with a huge diversity of projects. It makes me explore all of the areas, tasks, and colleagues, and I have to ask myself what I want to do at the moment. I feel like many things in life follow the same pattern: you are offered a great diversity of options, starting with the color of your jeans, and ending with the religion, gender identity, or political affiliation you want to follow. You always have to choose, and this volunteering experience teaches me to make choices aware.
Lesson 3: Nothing comes on its own.
They say that every skill, piece of knowledge, experience, and connection requires persistent efforts. Looks like the same works with exploring your city – you have to go outside and discover the streets, locals, history, every stone, hill, and smell in the air. Torino is an amazing city, and I had no chance to truly see it, to drink coffee at sunrise and have a beer at sunset. I cannot let myself become one of the locals who simply do not care about discovering the city. Similarly, you may share an apartment with people and have no clue who they truly are, what are their dreams, fears, and passions. Likewise, you may have no idea who your colleagues are outside of the working environment, what they have been through, what makes them nervous or delighted. Cause exploring the others means exploring yourself, doesn’t it?
My volunteering experience has just begun, and I am convinced that Italy prepared many lessons for me to be learnt. Stay tuned, I will keep you updated!