Potpourri & Second Week in Sicily

The second week started as usual with a staff meeting, where we discussed the activities of the current month and the months ahead. Although the meetings for changing the status and functioning rules of the CESV member organizations ended recently, there are going to be two other meetings, one to discuss the financial balance, and another where a new president, vice president and committee director will be elected. These will take place in April and June. Everything is relative and dependent on other activities already scheduled.

I would like to point out the fact that I have a very busy and important schedule, now that there are the three meetings, where I get the chance to participate. In terms of experience, it is a great chance to see how the administrative activities are going on, analyzing the similarities and differences, and how we can apply it as well.

The other topics focused on the activities that we will have with youth, seniors and volunteering organizations, mainly promoting volunteering in European volunteering programs (Grundtvig Assistants and European Volunteering Service), on environment, violence against the women, road safety, alcohol abuse, and so on. The activities will take place in schools and organizations in Messina, as well as in other cities such as Milazzo, Patti, or Palermo. The staff meeting typically last for an hour, it is very objective, with no wasted time, where everyone knows what to do.

CESV members have well defined duties, and do not entangle with each other. For example, two members are dealing with the activities outside of Messina, meaning in the cities within the Province of Messina; others deal with the logistics, financials, and IT – newsletter, photos, CESV website, and more other people deal with financing projects and grants.

My duties depend mostly on what Mari Angela has to do:

  1. AREA Europe – including all the activities taking place in Europe
  • Grundtvig projects (Senior Volunteering Projects – volunteering project for Grundtvig seniors, Grundtvig assistants, Grundtvig learning partnerships), Youth in Action, European Volunteering Service.

– We help Grundtvig assistants from various countries, who want to come in Italy to participate within CESV or the member organizations; or, those who want to participate as assistants in other European countries, working in volunteering projects for seniors, meaning that we help them to draft the project and implement it. We also work on YIA accreditation for the European Volunteering Service, as a sending and coordinating organization.

  • We select, write, organize and publish in the CESV newsletter and website, articles, news, information on new opportunities to volunteering, training, financing, etc., these being available for CESV organizations and volunteers.
  • We advice and support the CESV member organizations in the European projects.
  1. Volunteer promoting activities, which is the main mission ofCESV (in schools, with youth, unemployed, or disadvantaged people)
  2. Training and educational activities: I teach Romanian language to my colleagues and others willing to participate, and English language to those who want to become volunteers in the programme calledBacheca del volontariato
  3. When needed, I help with the organizing and administrative issues, such as the elective meetings, financial balance or the status modifications, as well as in other activities that we organize or participate.

These are just a few of them, and we are still in the beginning. The ideas will come as we progress…

This week I also managed to meet Salvatore (Salvo), the member of AUSER organization in Messina – an association for seniors. Our meeting focused on the activities taking place in his organization, and tried to find out some common activity, that we might as well transform in a collaboration. The discussion was held in the office of the AUSER organization, where I also got to meet part of the people that Salvatore helps and works with. Thus, I found that AUSER has around 100-200 senior members, who participate in a defined activities schedule. They meet several time a week to socialize, to cook, to relax and to get informed on random topics, when Salvo invities specialists. A special service that caught my attention was Filo D’Argento (The Silver Thread). This is the telephone that the seniors can call to find more information about the activities or to simply talk to someone when they feel alone.To get more of the atmosphere, I also answered the phone to a senior. Surprinsingly, I did a really good job in speaking Italian! At least that’s what I think, since the lady understood me.

Otherwise, I began taking care of the Grundtvig assistants who want to come to CESV, as well as those who want to go abroad. We prepare them for the whole process, we advise them and we MENTOR them, meaning that we are in charge from the beginning to the end. This week I also started translating the CESV brochure, and to write the materials that I will publish in the newsletter and on the CESV website.

As about my free time, apart from the CESV activities, I must say I tasted many Sicilian  specialities, and I even cooked together with my friends some Sicilian and Calabrian dishes, learning from them the secrets of the Mediteranean gastronomy, which is absolutely delicious! Often, followed by the shining sun, I take walks around the city and the port, where the sights are really beautiful, and where I get to catch some Italian and Sicilian dialect, making new friends and getting friendly with the supermarket staff; I want to get to feel and live the way they do, in order to understand them better.

In fact, this is what the assistantship is all about! It’s not only about learning how to work in another environment, or to compare the professional activity, but it’s also about understanding the life, with bad and good, with complete experiences that will make you tolerant, versatile, wiser, fexible, adaptable, and professional. As Edith Piaf’s famous song says, ″Rien, rien, je ne regrete rien!” I am truly happy to be here, and this is a chance that I believe many of you should take!

Translation made by Oana Zlatovici – Potpourri member studying in Sweden

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