Potpourri & First Week in Sicily

It’s been already a week since I am in Messina as a Grundtvig Assistant. I don’t even know when time has passed. Since I arrived, I’ve been a busy bee, taking care of all I need to do, be it accommodation, Italian phone card, internet, shopping, registration to the public institutions, activities in the new “work” place, work at home, cooking, etc.

Anyway, the to-do list goes checked in another rhythm than the one we are used in Romania. People work… each at their own pace. One would say they don’t even work, but once the results show up, so the professionalism does; I am speaking here mainly about CESV, Centro Servizi per il Volontariato (Service Centre for Volunteering), the organization that I started to work with since 4th of March, and that will last for 5 months and a half.

CESV is an association that promotes volunteering in Messina province, providing assistance to other volunteering organizations, meaning that it sustains their activities and projects, offering counseling, and facilitating the collaboration with other organizations, NGOs, or third sector institutions. Currently, there are about 209 volunteering associations in Messina province, that are CESV members, and which function under the same regulations, benefiting from CESV services. It took me a little while to understand how they associate, but it all started to make sense now.

On the first day of “work”, my mentor, Maria Angela Filocamo (shortly Mari), presented me the office and introduced me to my new colleagues: Marco, our office colleague; Marco the Second, our journalist; Francesca, Silvia, Tania, Gean Luca, Antonia, Maria-Lucia, Rosario- the director, and Antonio- the president. Obviously, I knew almost all of them since 2011, when I went to their Grundtvig workshop. Now they have a new, very modern head office, equipped with everything one would need.

As I mentioned above, since the first day I’ve been a busy bee. I attended a staff meeting, which takes places weekly or every two weeks, where we discussed already planned projects and  the main focus was on the ordinary and extraordinary assembly of the associations- CESV members, on the March 9th, where there were voted the changes brought to the status and functioning regulations of the organizations.

During the week, we started working for the CESV newsletter and website, gathering resources and volunteering opportunities, as well as about the year of the European citizen. We are also seriously involved in creating a Guide for Grundtvig Assistants in Messina-Sicily-Italy, containing useful information about all aspects and issues we met, as well as advices and recommendations, which, hopefully, we will be able to post with the help of the Romanian and Italian National Agencies, on their official websites.

Moreover, as you can see, and as I’ve promised, I try to keep updated the journal that I started before I left Romania, called Follow me in Sicily, where I present my activities, following the same idea: to help other interested in becoming Grundtvig Assistants.

This week, I also met two old friends with whom I really wanted to collaborate as long as I am here. One of them is Salvatore, president of the AUSER Association, who addresses creative and recreational activities to the seniors. The other one is Dorina, a Romanian living for many years in Messina, who is president of the Totius Mundi una Domus Association, who creates European educational projects, collaborating with Romania, and trying as well to support the Romanian community in Messina.

Although at first it is a bit hard to adapt, to get how the things work, everything starts to shape nicely. I meet people, I get new ideas, I get to go outside Messina as well for activities, I eat cookies in the office in the evening of 8th of March, I laugh, I work.

I try as much as I can to visit around the city, the port, the strait of Messina, and the other shore- Reggio Calabria, which looks wonderful both by day and night. Sometimes I can’t believe I am here; after I breathe the air around the sea, and see so many ferryboats, the lighthouse on Capo Peloro, and many other beautiful things, I start to smile, and say that all these are worth the effort, the courage, and strength to go for this experience, which tests your limits.

I started to learn some Italian from my colleagues, with whom I speak in English, French, Italian, or any other language we know; and, they learn from me Romanian, English, and French, and our discussions are really mixed. Sometimes, a sentence goes with words from different languages and the communication becomes funny.

What I like the most about them is that… they don’t rush, they don’t get angry. And they respect each other, in the sense that, the program starts at 8:30 – 9:00 until 12:30, followed by a nice lunch break, where everybody goes to eat with their families, this being until 15:30. Then we get back to our work until 18:30. Mari’s program and mine is not so typical though. We work two days per week, from 8:30 until 18:30 – 19:00, and we have the lunch break at work because we don’t live so close to our home; and, for the rest of the week, from 8:30 until 15:00, or field activities.

My usual work schedule is 7 hours per day, and two free days per month, but if I work more in a day, it’s a must to be free to get a rest during the following day! Anyway, we don’t really mind this all the time, because I go to work for other organizations as well, and so it is considered as working for CESV, since these organizations are CESV members.

Overall, I like it! I like what I do and the atmosphere, which really pays off the effort, because I don’t come back home tired and stressed. Check out some photos from Messina, the office, and from the 9th of March meeting, which I hope you will like, and make you read more from my next journal posts Potpourri – Follow me in Sicily. Ciao! Ci vediamo!

Translated by Oana Zlatovici – Potpourri member studying in Sweden