Francesca Calabrò

EVS Volunteer in Zespoół Szkół Integracyjnych

Photos provided by Francesca Calabrò and taken during her project.
Banner photo taken by Carmen Stoica during her EVS in Poland.

Francesca’s EVS playlist

It happened that I got the chance to experience the autumn in June…

I left Bologna on June 4th with 30 degrees, arrived to Wrocław under heavy rain and did a three hour train trip
to Domasków, in a train with the heating already on!!!! Domasków, the nearest station to Długopole Górne,
the place where I would live for the next six months.

But how does one spell Długopole Górne??!

A small village immersed in nature… I woke up the following day, drank my coffee in the garden and start
to think and contemplate: How much green! There was this strange atmosphere I could not and still can not describe: Is this the contact with the nature everyone is talking about? I jocked with my Italian friends that
I would be back in Italy as if I had lived six months in a spiritual retreat in India.

My project was mainly based on contact with children and pre-teenagers.
In summer I worked in two summer schools and the remaining months at school. The first few days I thought: “Why am I doing this? I‘m not good with children! How can I survive twenty or thirty children who only speak polish? “Well, I found the solution.
So, what do you have to carry with you to survive a lethal mix of children who do not speak English nor Italian? PATIENCE & LOVE. I really believe that they are the key to learn a foreign language, especially if the language in question is one of the most difficult to learn for an Italian.
During all that time I tried to communicate (and teach) in english, but in the end I was the one being taught polish by them.

So…what do you need to have in yourself to survive a volunteer experience abroad? PATIENCE & LOVE
and I have received so much!

In the past two months I have had the opportunity to volunteer in an orphanage in Klodzko. What can I say…
I graduated in psychology and I did internships and worked in different therapeutic communities in Italy,
but the emotional impact and the difficulty to create a bond in an orphanage are the double of difficulties.
After a month of ‘battle’ my greatest joy was to see the kids smile whenever they saw me arriving, when
the perception of ‘invasion’ had finally disappeared.

The best part of my EVS: the travels! I’ve been traveling longer in six months than in ten years!
I’m not talking about the usual travel vacation granted once a year. This is different: weekend backpack, cheap (enjoy polski bus) way of travelling.

The cities I visited are located on the borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and you have the opportunity to easily visit some of the most beautiful cities of the East. Also and thanks to the EVS trainings, I had the chance to visit beautiful Polish cities and meet new volunteers.

One of the most important gifts that EVS offers you is the chance to meet people from all over the world. I had lunch with people putting ketchup on pizza, people having breakfast immersed  in the smell
of fried eggs and bacon and, not to forget, the times
I cooked meatballs with chicken meat because volunteers from different religions could not eat pork or beef meat.

It was wonderful to live, in first person, this experience of respect between different cultures, which is often
so difficult. If I‘m sure of something is that in reality there are no differences, we are just people with different culinary tastes (although pizza unites all :)).

Gordon Allport formulated the hypothesis of the contact saying that proximity to a group, considered outgroup, allows us to eliminate discrimination and prejudice, because those arise from the lack of knowledge among members of different groups.

A dear friend of mine, volunteer here with me, one day wrote: “Do EVS, do not make war!” What message could be simpler and more direct?

To sum it all, how does EVS, or EVS in Poland, change you?

It will make you… STRONGER, INTUITIVE, CURIOUS AND …
LESS CHILLY! 🙂

You can also be an EVS Volunteer

Check out EFM projects and vacancies
Francesca Calabrò project in Zespoół Szkół Integracyjnych: 2016-1-PL01-KA105-025211 – „YOUTH and DIVERSITY – EVS OpenMind ZONE”
Erasmus+ Programme
Sending organization: Associazione Culturale Strauss – Arcistrauss