WHEN GREEN IS GOLD

One of the volunteers that took part in our European Solidarity Corps volunteering team “Green Gold” sent us an article, asking to remain anonymous…

The project took place in La Buona Terra farm, in Passignano sul Trasimeno, Italy, in November/December 2021, and it was funded by the European Commission through the European Solidarity Corps programme and the Italian Agency for Youth. The 16 volunteers, coming from Italy and other countries, supported the staff of Kora and La Buona Terra in farm activities, olive picking, common cooking, preparation of spaces for future groups.

This is their story, from a secret perspective…

Reader patience advised. What I am about to tell you will get messy really quick. Detangling the excess of information, overload of emotions and abundance vibrations will require you to hold on, go back, speed forward, re-read the same words, many times, for them to make sense together in the same sentence and for what could have driven me to place them here, right here, at this exact moment of the plot. You will have to practice some daydream while going through this montage and choice of combinations. I would suggest picturing in your mind my words, that how they came to me, eyes closed, transporting myself back in time and place, going back and forth between there and then, and now and here… In order to facilitate your appreciation, you could either dig into your own memories of such similar evocation or by creating a new matrix of my story. As you might already notice, words are pilling up. It’s a choice. I consciously do not use plain language or storytelling technics to fill in these ages. Probably counter intuitive at first glance but liberating with certainty. Once again, it’s a choice. This is who I am, using words vomit to share my soul. Communication is important but understanding is key. How do we reach this goal when each one of us is unique. What comes to my mind, how I feel will never fully reach you nor will you ever be able to fully comprehend me. But you can get a glimpse of it. Anyways, this piece is not entirely meant for it, nor is it a simple transcript of my experience. I do not think I would even ever be able to describe it to myself accurately anyways. It’s my own therapy, self-conducted with the purpose to process it and heal from it. But I salute your curiosity, your interest in my words, my experience, and your bravery to still be reading till this point and further.

If you may bear with me a little longer, now I shall go on with my tale. I will not name myself, those who might recognize me through some details of the story, I would like you to make abstract of whose soul is guiding you and dive into my yarn as if it was your own. Do not picture me, but instead tried to see it through my eyes and gain another perspective of our common history. For those who remain unaware, how blissful are you to travel through these lines with nothing but your power of imagination and recreate my words, shape them to make them your own.

Me, that is what brought me here.

I am the architect, engineer, and the mason of my own life. Despite withholding 3-in-1 role of the utmost importance; no one can live nor survive alone. We are the product of our environment, surroundings and their constant up-bringing either by following through with it or by going against it, with, of course, nuances along the way. Others are essential to who we are, to what we do and what we experience. And that otherhood is what did in fact lighted the spark of my journey. Before I go further, let me introduce you a little to my way of being [SPOILER ALERT– so you can jump ahead to the next paragraph if you would like]. When reading a story, I get so overwhelmingly excited that I would start with the first sentence and jump straight to the last sentence, re-read them a second time, and then take a moment to imagine what could be in-between. So here it comes, the last sentence of this story, I already know it, or at least this is now as I type it the last sentence that I will lead you to: This was my awakening. And now, I would invite you to take a minute and imagine what could it be that separate and bring together these two sentences. The opening and the ending of an instant.

Otherhood, human interaction, society, community, all these words, concepts can be defined in many ways, but they all collide in the idea of togetherness. Someone else is at the source of opening a new route in the crossroad I was at. They gave me another option, one that immediately spoke to me: “if anyone is interested, guys”, that was it. A link on a WhatsApp group chat accompanied by a casual message. It came at the perfect moment without realising it yet. It is on the back of my mind, as I am reflecting on what I would be doing next, and simultaneously focusing on enjoying the present moment, this place that has given me so much already, these people that a few weeks ago I did not know became family and friends, this place is my new home for the time being. But also, I do have a home I need to go back to, but something is missing. It’s not over yet. I am not done yet. I did not finish what I have started. It cannot just stop like that and leave, go back home, not use this experience, this growth, these feelings I have been going through. And there, it is right in front of me, as I am looking at others, struggling like me at the idea of ending. I see them. We talk. We process. We exchange. And here I am ready to decide, to take a step forward on one of these roads. Paying attention to my environment, to my surroundings, to who I am, to who I am becoming and who I want to be and do, I will take my chance on Kora’s project.

To avoid turning this into a book –extended version on demand, I do have more to tell-, I spare you some details and will jump back and forth to specific elements. I have paused myself in this telling to remember, relive, analyse, and processed mindfully, internally this adventure. Parts of it, most, will remain mine only. I have already a few times, take a moment to reflect on this experience and came to the conclusion that putting it down would enlighten me further.

In La Buona Terra, there is no such a thing as routine. Yesterday has nothing of today. And today will not be tomorrow. Do not be mistaken! Things got to repeat, things need to be done daily, things can be spread over time. But what you do around them, who is surrounding you, how you approach the day is what will constantly change. Throughout the day, I never feel bored, never feel numb. And that’s how some of my most beautiful and precious memories lay in some of the most unappealing tasks. While cutting branches, LOTS of branches, – indeed many many olive trees… so many many branches…, – I get to know the people of Kora, throughout questions, jokes, off-the-shelf moments we got closer to each other. I did not know that learning how to use a machete will also open my mind to new visions and perspectives on life. Many of my life questioning got demystify. I realise that who were once, not so long ago, strangers are now people that are fully part of my life. Not only because we share the same space at the same time, not because we do the same thing… but because we are connecting each one of us, who we are, to others. Togetherness is transforming us as the days go by, at every single moment, every single word we share and exchange. We are not just passing by; we are living our lives. THIS IS REAL. This is us growing, learning, and expanding. I see it. This person in front of me, is not anymore, the same person I met a moment ago. Realising this, force me to look at myself and notice the changes I operated, slowly, unconsciously, or at least maybe not so actively sometimes. I adapted to my environment, to my surrounding. This place, these people, this project is participating in my growth, my personal development. AND I LIKE IT. I feel free to be who I am, without judgement, quite the opposite actually. I feel supported, I feel safe, I am comfortable. This is me. This is my life. I feel and I am empowered. Despite my many experiences volunteering, living in communities or finding myself in “out of regular life settings”, I have never experienced such an incredible feeling of self, fully (well, let’s not idealise it too much). I feel like I could now but also in the future as well as and I should be myself. READ THAT AGAIN. And as these words are being written, I realise that this is what it’s all about. Non-formal education projects, European Solidarity Corps, it’s about bringing oneself into their potential, bringing an opportunity to discover yourself and others, enhance your capacities and capabilities. I feel stronger than I was before. I am confident. I know myself better.

During the project, I was able to refocus on myself and let go. Be enveloped by nature, all around, brought me a lot of peace. I was able to disconnect and be present in the moment. Finding time for myself, to think, to be creative or simply to observe was refreshing. The diversity of nature and the presence of animals gave me lots of comfort. La Buona Terra is a beautiful place. Vast and yet at reach. You never know where and when you’ll me someone along the way. You can be by yourself and yet never feel lonely. There is space to find space and you’ll get all the space you need that’s what you are looking for. The opposite can also be. As said before, it all depends on how you want your moment, day, experience to be. I have experience some of the most beautiful sunsets up on an olive tree in the quietest evening. And I have some mornings experiences lovely laughter as the sun was rising with marvellous company, with my fellow volunteers or with the farm animals. I enjoyed cuddling and sharing these precious moments with every single one of them.

As this adventure was coming to an end, I was feeling numb, as if this could not be it. It was not really ending. Suddenly, people were leaving, the day was getting shorter… packing had started… and yet I could not put a finger on what was going on in my head, what was I feeling…

As my train was departing, it hit me. I was sad and nostalgic. I was here sitting alone in the train, yet having these conflicting feelings of excitement to go home, see my friends and sleep in my bed… I realised how much of an impact these six weeks had on me. What I had gain, what had been accomplished. I made new friends, I got to know myself more, better, I learned so many news things, have met so many incredible beings, I grew, I expanded in many ways. The love I received was tremendous, and I can only hope the love I gave was fulfilling to others.

I was happy to go home, sleep in my own room but also sad to leave the one I was occupying, the one we made our cocoon, our home, our heart. I was excited to eat “as I wish” but oh my… how could I ever again dare to cook Italian food at home by myself… how would I ever reproduced those flavours and perfection of our cooking team –still desperate to this day to have one last Kora meal-.

How could I say goodbye to this view, to these incredible four-legged companions…, to the smells and sounds of nature; but also, be so impatient to walk down the streets of my hometown again.

As the tears rolled down my cheeks, staring through the window of the fast-tracking train… I took a deep breath, slowly pulled down my eyelids… And pictured all of it, all at once in my mind letting it surround me to transcend my soul with the warmth and fill my heart with the love that these experience in Kora has been for me.

As I opened my eyes, dried out my cheeks, I realised I was no more the one I was in the train coming the other way. This was my awakening.

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