EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FOR

Magda came from Poland to join our “European Solidarity Voices” project in Norcia, Italy, in July-August 2021. She organised workshops for people with disabilities, helped in the logistics of events such as concerts and theatre shows, and brought her solidarity to the local community hit by the 2016 earthquake.

The project is funded by the European Commission through the European Solidarity Corps programme and the Italian Agency for Youth.

This is her story!

I’m Magda, 23 years old and I’m from Poland. I study resocialization pedagogy with pedagogic therapy. I graduated a couple of days before coming to Italy and now I just continue with my master degree. Before the project I was also working full time in a shop, so as you can imagine it wasn’t easy at all to connect it with my university. In my city I meet a lot of people who took part in projects here in Poland from a lot of different countries. I had some wonderful friendships with those people. A couple of them asked me: “Magda why don’t you take part in a project somewhere? You are young, it is an amazing experience!” Then I said all the time “I have my job, I have my flat which I have to pay for, I have my university. It’s impossible for me to do it.” Till the day when I meet my amazing friend from Greece – Mikhalis. He said “Girl! You can do whatever you want! You are young, strong, independent, you know English! Stop wasting yourself here in the shop!”. Yes. It was the day when I promised myself to do it. One year later when I was very close to finish my university this idea came back to me. I was so scared! I had to leave my job, it was a big risk… After a lot of conversations with my close friends and family I decided to do it. YOLO. I chose Italy, which I was in love with for a long time. I found an amazing project in Norcia whose topic was so close to my heart and also to my university faculty. I applied for this one and also second project with Kora, the one on the farm just in case (well I already left my job this time)!!! After my interview with the amazing Agnese I already knew for 98% that I will be accepted. So happy!!!!! I called all my friends and family to tell them about it. When I received an email saying “CONGRATULATIONS YOU ARE IN” I was first crying and then dancing in my room!!!

ANDIAMOOOO!!!!!!

When I first came on the farm after 20 hours of travelling the only dream was shower and sleep. It was a shock for me when I saw showers full of spiders which I’m so afraid of. I was the first volunteer who arrived. I felt alone and a little bit lost. I think it was the strongest “cultural shock” for me. I slept alone in a huge tent. I was actually crying and dreaming about my own bed. That night I really wanted to be back at home. Everything finished the next day when other volunteers came on the farm. I met my “Norcia group” and also the group who stayed on the farm. All bad emotions went away and we started to have a lot of fun!!! The week went very fast. We had a lot of games and activities which I loved. We got to know each other closer and it was very hard to say goodbye. In the same moment I was excited to go to Norcia, start working and see how it will be to do my dreamed project but I also didn’t really want to leave the farm and my wonderful friends.

When we came to Norcia we had a free weekend so we used it to know the city a little bit better. We walked on the streets of the city centre, we met some locals. We felt like a strangers what changed very fast. When I first went to the disability centre where I was working it was a hard experience. I worked with Markela – Greek girl who didn’t speak Italian at all just like me. Social workers who we were working with didn’t speak too much English too, so we tried to communicate using google translator and it worked!!! After a couple of days me and Markela learned some Italian words and day by day we were more able to work and talk with social workers and of course also with disability people. It was easier, everyday it was getting better. We did some workshops, we went to the swimming pool together, we went to another city to work in another disability centre together. We made very strong friendships with the people from the beautiful “Tutti i Colori del Mondo” centre. We were also crying so much saying goodbye to them at the end of the project just like them. They gave amazing gifts to us to never forget them and I swear I will never forget this in my life.

After finishing our job in the centre we started volunteering for Hempiness Music Festival. We painted the signs, prepared the bar and also cleaned the food truck. It lasts ¾ days and than the HMF started. We took part in this amazing event working on the bar, selling tickets and merchandise, caring about social distance etc. It was so emotional, two days of these amazing concerts. We had an opportunity to see a lot of wonderful Italian and not just Italian artists. The most emotional moment was the end of the last concert, when cousin of Emanuele (a young guy from Norcia who died in an accident, and to whom the festival is dedicated) played the guitar with the band the last song for Emanuele and after this song, Emanuele’s parents came on the scene and the mother was crying, she thanked everybody for coming and remembering her dead son, who is still alive in people’s hearts. We all cried with her together and we also realized that we finished our project…

After finishing our job in the centre we started volunteering for Hempiness Music Festival. We painted the signs, prepared the bar and also cleaned the food truck. It lasts ¾ days and than the HMF started. We took part in this amazing event working on the bar, selling tickets and merchandise, caring about social distance etc. It was so emotional, two days of these amazing concerts. We had an opportunity to see a lot of wonderful Italian and not just Italian artists. The most emotional moment was the end of the last concert, when cousin of Emanuele (a young guy from Norcia who died in an accident, and to whom the festival is dedicated) played the guitar with the band the last song for Emanuele and after this song, Emanuele’s parents came on the scene and the mother was crying, she thanked everybody for coming and remembering her dead son, who is still alive in people’s hearts. We all cried with her together and we also realized that we finished our project…

So why I decided to take part of this project? Because I really wanted to try how it is to work abroad especially with the people with mental disabilities. I wanted to try something new, to get undiscovered experience, to meet new people from different countries, make some friendships, because I wanted to see Italy, my lovely country, to meet my friends from there, to have unforgettable memories, to make my dream come true and the most important: to bring solidarity and to help people in need because this is something I really love to do in my daily life. If I handled to do this all? I think yes. I feel very satisfied with this project. I found everything I was looking for. I found experience, amazing friends, rest in my life, adventure and inspiration. I learned how to accept a lot of things which I didn’t agree with, how to be more open for people, how to become a bit more self- confident. I understood also that I’m important as a person and I can do a lot of good things in my life, that my life matters and it can bring a lot of goodness for other people if I just want it and yes, I want it. I also learned how to improvise a little bit. How to find other ways to communicate and make friends when you don’t really know the language. I opened myself and I understood very important thing: you don’t really have to know everything, you don’t have to be able to do everything, if you put all your heart in what you’re doing it’s enough and your intentions are pure it is enough to do things well. You don’t need perfect language to tell people “You can count on me, I’m here for you”. They can feel it without the words if you show them your heart. And this exactly I brought home. I brought memories, missing, happiness, beautiful friendships, a lot of photos, and all of them have their own story which I will have in my heart always and forever, and also the pain that it finished. 

If you don’t know if you should do this project, please, really maybe you even shouldn’t… BUT YOU JUST DO IT.

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