Potpourri & The Seventeenth Week in Sicily

It came and went by. I mean …week 17, which seemed to me short but busy with various activities. We initiated a new course, an English one this time, but in a more complex formula, we got through the elections that change the entire CESV leadership, and I also found the church of the Sri Lanka community, where I attended the service.

The closer we are to the end of the internship, the more we work, and this is how I got to initiate, together with Maria Angela, an intensive English conversation course in a form different from the classical pattern. In other words, a non-formal course designed to improve English communication skills in a European context, in order to promote intercultural education, volunteering and European mobility. Specifically, we combine communication in English with the required information about what volunteering means, its benefits, the volunteering European opportunities and other European mobility types based on my experience as Grundtvig Assistant.

The course is open to adult participants (it fits the Adult Education line) and the group that was formed is predominantly „student” but among them are representatives of CESV member associations experienced in international volunteer projects. We meet 3 times a week at the headquarters of CESV and in the most relaxed atmosphere we work with the concepts of „learning, sharing, citizenship, volunteering, mobility, motivation, mindset, etc.”, we offer examples from our own experiences and at the same time we practice communication in English, in terms which are being targeted in this European and intercultural context.

The course unfolds as expected and both Maria Angela and I are proud that after only two meetings the interest in the European issues discussed has significantly increased and the participants remain after the course to ask more questions. We hope the results will be the ones we desire, at least we can see that the course is heading in the right direction, but we can`t tell you this until the very end, when they themselves will express their views both on the course and on the method and „trainers”. Mind you, if they aren`t positive, I won`t let you know….

Concerning the elections that I attended on Saturday … what a stressful job! There was a lot of hard work and responsibility, a lot of paperwork to do, and long working hours, but in the end we had the satisfaction that we had done our job well and conscientiously. This was the most important of the three meetings that I attended while there, for the fact that the same day were elected the president, the vice president, the board of directors and other verification committees. In a word, the whole structure of the CESV. There were debates, deliberations and voting (and I hope I have used all the representative verbs), and that besides the preceding phase when we had to register the presence of all CESV member associations who took part (and there weren`t many, believe me, only about 150 or more!) and you had to pay special attention to papers, to guide the delegations and more than that, to make conversation. So there was no chance for us to get bored till night fell, I even ran to and fro the halls to take pictures, and my colleagues did the same in order to fulfill various administrative and organizational responsibilities. However, even if such moments are exhausting and demanding, we still found time to joke around and laugh, to make fun of it and to relax a little and take things easier. In fact, we all enjoyed it since it was the last…

Although I arrived home at around 5 p.m., my head was spinning so I decided to go for a walk. Moreover, in front of my building I saw a group of Sri Lanka children with their music teacher, playing traditional wooden instruments (some huge drums) and, since wherever there is something new going on I am also present, I went to find out more about the reason for their rehearsal. This is how, on the same day, I got at Sri Lanka Community Church, where there was a service held to welcome the new priest. I was the only white person there, which is why I stood at the entrance, discreetly, not to bother anyone, and not to attract too much attention while taking photos and listening to the service a little (this was just to gain some cultural experience, not that I understood something of their language). Anyway, it was interesting to see and hear something different, a little Eastern oasis trying to keep their traditions and identity in the Western “sea” that surrounds them, and me, here in Sicily.

My dear ones, the end of my internship is slowly approaching, I have two more weeks of training, followed by a two-three week holiday, before I return home. Don`t worry though, I’ll tell you everything, all the way, because every story has a beginning and an end. I also hope I`ll travel a little bit in undiscovered places in Sicily and then you`ll travel with me, to say goodbye to these lands blessed by God with a simple but unforgettable beauty.

Translated by prof. Irina Bicescu – Potpourri member