This january I went to visit some of the beautiful islands in Croatia and I made my thoughts rippling across the waves of the wondeful sea. I was born and I grew up near the sea, I cannot resist its charme.
Our friend Alenka asked me “What is the event or thing that changed your life?”. I didn’t hesitate and I said “coming in Croatia for the EVS”. And while I was lost in the waves, I realized that a different person was contemplating the sea one year before in Nizza.
One year ago I was on the French riviera, probably looking the horizon and dreaming about something, without stopping other deep reflections about my life (yes, I get easily lost in my thoughts). And probably I thought I had a good life: I have wonderful family and friends, I never had problems at school but I also had fun and friends (and books), I went to university and I accomplished my goal to finish the 3+2 years in time, without renouncing to my social life (except the days before the exams) and while working as a waitress during the weekends. After university I found a job in few weeks, I worked with dedition and I had a lot of satisfaction. I managed to continue to do private lessons and baby sitting sometimes, also if I had to renounce to some more sleep in saturday and sunday mornings. But after almost one year I continued to feel there was something missing: I wanted to change environment. I had the idea to go to Nizza with my friend who was going in Erasmus. So, I took my not so developed french skills, my adaptable spirit and I left Italy.
The impact was strong: I realized how being abroad could be frustrating. I couldn’t understand and speak properly. After few weeks I met a wonderful italian family that helped me a lot, I was the baby sitter for their daughter. I felt more motivated and I started to work in an italian restaurant that gave me the possibility to speak french and to be enough independent from my family. I started to go out more with the erasmus friends of my friend, I understood how cool is to be in an intercultural environment. But I was tired of a job I didn’t want for my life and, while searching for a job in Italy or abroad, I read about EVS.
It was an article of a girl who explained how EVS helped her and made her a successfull woman (she found a good job after it). I found it amazing: ok, I studied economics but I have the idea that in my life I don’t care about being rich or being a successfull manager: I want to have a job I like, to have the possibility to cultivate my hobbies, my friends and to travel. And EVS seemed the perfect combination.
It’s with this spirit that I met Outward Bound Croatia (OBC) on the web. There was a call for participants for 9 months in Croatia, the description told about marketing and promotion, but also activities in nature. I opened the webiste and it was love at the first sight. I remember exactly that I fullfilled the form and I said to my friend: “Imagine if I really could go there!! It would be so amazing…”
But, sincerely, I thought “how many possibilities I have they choose me?”: I didn’t have any experience in climbing, diving or in Erasmus+ programs. I was sure it was only a dream and when I came back to Italy I was so concentrate on sending CV and go to job interviews that my desire to go there stayed silently.
Two weeks before the project started I was in the metro in Rome, disconsolate for an interview for a job I didn’t like at all, when I received an email by Lana, the deputy director of OBC, who told me that I could be the Italian volunteer. I started smiling in the metro and I already knew from the first moment that I had to say YES.
The only concern I had was if I could be enough for them. I was afraid they could regret to had offered me this wonderful possibility. I am a very self-critical person so in my thought my english was horrible, my lack of experience in outdoors a guilt.
But you know what?! The splendor of OBC is in this: they took you by hand to go deeply in yourself, to push your boundaries and face the challange. They don’t interfere with your learning process, they don’t pull you. And this is the biggest present they gave me: I never felt “out of place” or “not enough”. The first program on Velebit mountain changed me in a way I cannot describe,I learned a lot without receiving any moral lessons, without criticism or disapproval. It made me understand how much I was conditionated by my own barriers and limits, how beautiful is to not care about showing your weaknesses (I cried in front all of them during rock climbing – rock crying), how fantastic is to trust other people as yourself (and, in my case, more than myself). And with this new spirit I afforded all the adventures after it.
The youth exchanges made me more confident in speaking english, talking in public, sharing experience. All the people I met teached me something new in a non formal way, from their cultures to their personal experiences, the ways they smile or how they interact with other people, but also from their passions and their open-mindedness.
The programs and the workshops with school students made me meet a lot of teenagers, who were amused by our experience and Erasmus + programs and showed me that it’s not true that the new generation wants only iphone and facebook. They want more, it’s simply that they don’t know the opportunities they can have! Some of them wrote me and I’m really glad to tell them more and see how much energy the have.
Working in the office in a international environment meant so much to me: I learned a lot of things related to NGO’s, Erasmsus+, management, non formal education, Croatia, Croatian language and much more.
They gave me great opportunities: writing projects, helping during the programs, being in the social media management team, create materials and shared my thoughts. In this last month I had also the wonderful opportunity to present OBC in the International Women’s Club in Zagreb and I found myself more self-confident and entrepreneurial I could imagine.
It’s for all these reasons that two months ago, when I started searching for a job, I wasn’t afraid. I knew it could be hard but Ehy, I climbed a mountain while crying, nothing can scare me (ok, maybe a big snake). And I’m sure that it’s for the same reasons (and some good luck) that I got a job for 3 years as a Marketing Assistant and I’m ready to start a new life in Como.
Finally, living and sharing all this with the other 3 volunteers gave me an unvaluable treasure. We are so close that the only thought I will leave them in few days makes me cry. I found in them brothers and sons (because I’m the oldest one, so I am the mom :)) and I will never be able to express in words – and it’s not a problem of english speaking – how much they meant to me.
I stole from one of my favourite book the idea that when you know new people they could be beautiful, pretty or ugly, but then, when you know them better, they become always more beautiful.
And this is what I think now about all the people who made me the happy, satisfied and lucky girl I’m now: to my eyes you are the most beautiful people in the world.
I can say that the experience in Outward Bound Croatia as a volunteer stretched my mind, encouraged me to be always active and cheerful and to accept every challenge with enthusiasm, but especially it helped me to find out who I am and what I want. The compass they gave me points in a direction, maybe it’s the wrong one or maybe not, maybe I will get lost, but I’m sure I will always find the way.