La Vita Romana

Ciao a tutti!

I’m Anastasia, 19 years old and am currently living la “vita romana” during my voluntary civil service in the beautiful city of Rome!
During my last year at high school in 2020, I applied at the “Evangelische Freiwilligendienste” (Protestant voluntary services) for a year abroad to make new experiences and gain insights on the life in another country. I was overly happy when I got the chance to volunteer in the Lutheran community in the heart of Italy’s capital.

My journey began September 1st 2020, when I hugged my parents for the last time at 3 am in the morning on the train that would travel to Munich. Basically sleeping all throughout the journey, I changed in Munich for Bologna and in Bologna for Rome, and was already amazed when I started hearing people talking rapidly in Italian while overlooking the picturesque Tuscan landscape from my window seat.
I had not yet built a sufficient vocabulary in Italian, but due to my knowledge of Spanish it seemed easy to understand at least what was written on the signs.
When I arrived at the central train station Termini (after having mistakingly got off the train a stop too early), I was greeted most warmly by the former volunteer Anton, who had to introduce me to my workplace. He showed me the parish and my new apartment (which is luckily situated right on top of the community’s office) while we were munching on some leftover “cacio e pepe” pizza, a Roman classic. At the moment, we have an Iranian refugee living with us, and we recently celebrated the age-old Persian New Year’s festival Noowroz with him.
From the first day on I felt kindly welcomed in the office, where I support the pastor and the secretary in the daily tasks like answering calls and emails, contacting our community’s members and preparing the Sunday services. It feels incredibly special to be part of a Lutheran community right in the center of the Roman Catholic Church. The Sunday services are mostly held in German, with a monthly afternoon service in Italian. The office work is also German-Italian combined, thus we almost feel at home with the German-speaking office members, while still learning Italian by answering professional emails.

The volunteer’s work place

A crucial part of being a volunteer here, as I previously mentioned, is the preparation of the Sunday services – for example being responsible for lighting the candles on the altar and switching on the microphone for the Gospel’s reader, noting the church’s visitors in case of having to track down a possible chain of infection (which we fortunately never had to do) and setting the table outdoors for a pleasant meet-up after the service.

Our church on Christmas Eve

It has now become a habit of mine to go to church and I thoroughly enjoy getting to know the many members of our community, reaching out to them and listening to their interesting stories of for example how they come to live in Italy. Especially at the start of the year, I adored the meet-ups in our church’s garden, where we would share delicious food, chat with the students from the Melanchthon center who are staying in Rome for almost a year as well and just enjoy the warm late summer nights. Every Wednesday, we also host a meet-up for the elderly women of our community, in which we have a cup of coffee alongside some tasty cookies and chat about anything. Sometimes, we have somebody from the community hosting the meet-up who would hold a presentation about some famous Roman families and their stories, or when we recently had an US-American theology student accommodated at our church, we talked about Lutheranism in the United States.

A meet-up in our community’s garden in September

Another wonderful aspect of the voluntary year at the community is the many events we have: for example, in December, the founder of the “1-to-1-concerts” asked our pastor for the opportunity to have his special concerts take place in our church. We, the volunteers, helped out at preparing the concerts, receiving the guests and also introducing each one of them to the exceptional concept – one musician would play in complete silence for only one guest, and based on what kind of connection the musician felt with the latter during a one-minute eye contact, he decides what pieces of music he plays. Additionally, there was no fee to pay and all donations went to churches that ran projects for the poor!

As we approached fall, we had to endure more restrictions, such as wearing a mask all the time, even outside. In November, a decree was introduced, separating the Italian regions into the colors red, orange and yellow, with specific curfew rules. Most of the time, Lazio, the region in which Rome is situated, stayed orange or yellow. We were fortunate, as the shops and restaurants stayed open and although we could not eat outside past 6 pm, we often went outside to share pizza, pasta and our favorite gelatos for lunch.

My roommate and I at the famous viewpoint “Pincio”

By the way, the reason why I have been referring to “us” as in “we” during this text is because of my fellow roommate, with whom I have been sharing not only the apartment since September, but also work and in general life here. I am glad to say that we get along very well and we often stroll through the city together enjoying gelato, watch series and movies in Italian for improved comprehension and love to bake while listening to music (a recommendation of ours is the “New Music Friday Italia” playlist on Spotify, where every Friday numerous popular songs, recently released, are listed. Most of them are in Italian). It has been a great joy, since due to the restrictions we often had to stay at home, and in compagnia it’s way more fun passing the zona rossa.

A definite highlight of the past months was the consegna delle corone dell’avvento (sale of so-called Advent wreaths, a wide-spread German tradition of lighting a candle each Sunday during the Advent time before Christmas)! Some 15 (wo)men got together and planned the production, managing and sale of the Advent wreaths. It was delightful to sit in the garden, crafting the wreaths with our hands and talking to whoever came to sit next to us. In total, we actually sold close to 200 Advent wreaths! It was a grand success. However, normally, the community would plan a huge bazar in the entire parish building with hundreds of people flocking in, having a slice of one of the dozens of cakes offered by volunteers, browsing through the giant basement – filled to the brim with books and toys – and deciding which one of the homemade jams and cookies to buy. I hope that this year, fingers crossed, it will be possible again!

The distribution of Christmas cookies and Advent wreaths

The Italian way of living is obviously very present here. I have noticed that on any occasion, many Italians style up and make a bella figura, especially on Friday and Saturday evening when young adults come together in bars. And speaking of that, I do have to say that it has influenced me in some way, because I have grown to like observing what latest trends people have been wearing and seeing avant-garde fashion pieces. In addition, since for the first time in my life I am fully independent and have to cook myself, I have grown to love preparing food and now understand why the Italian cuisine is just so renowned. Even the simplest plate of pasta can be so flavorful and delicious! We have integrated going to a local market on Mondays and selecting fresh produce directly from Italy into our weekly to-do’s. And digging a spoon into homemade Tiramisu is absolutely the best. Therefore, in a way, I have adopted some Italian customs.

Preparing German Christmas cookies

I cannot complete this text without going into depth about Rome: you have certainly heard of the great Roman Empire, and it is mind-blowing to ponder on how fascinatingly old Rome actually is. Through the centuries, not many buildings have been destroyed by wars, and the Italians are blessed with ancient remains such as the temple Pantheon, the Foro Romano and, famous all over the globe, the gigantic Colosseo. Even in the district Ludovisi where we live (the “dolce vita” street Via Veneto is just a 3 min walk away), we admire the artistic houses we casually pass by wherever we go.
The perfect get-away from the bustling metropolitan life is the Villa Borghese, only a stone’a throw away from our church. We have passed hours reading books and learning Italian while enjoying the sun in a quiet corner of the park.
And aside from the typical sightseeing places and monuments, we have also found some wonderful spots: the quiet Montesacro quartiere with its lovely park; the EUR part of the city, initiated by the dictator Mussolini, where one almost feels like in the US; the historical Via Appia Antica, a road already built by the Romans, which is ideal for bicycling. They are just three of the many spots one has to visit.
And besides that, there are just too many splendid fountains, cafés and tiny stores to even count.

View of the St. Peter’s Basilica and the river Tiber

On the other hand, some Saturday mornings, we would get up early to have breakfast at a local café and then head towards some interesting place outside of Rome that we heard of: for instance, we visited the sea-side city of Ostia, approximately an hour away by train from our parish, where we enjoyed long walks by the beach and the crisp and salty air. And recently, when a new decree was published stating that Lazio would become Zona Rossa again, we decided to have a day-long trip to Castel Gandolfo, an aesthetic town located on a hill overlooking the scenic Albano lake!

The Lago Albano at Castel Gandolfo

Grazie di cuore (thanks a lot) for reading my blog entry and I hope that I gave you an interesting insight into my life here!

A presto,


Bella Italia!

They always say: “Live your dream!”. But how one applies this quote into their actual life, is up to each and everyone to decide. My dream was to live in Italy for an extent of time and now I am living that dream.

Italy has always fascinated me in all its facets and every time I visited it on holidays with the family or on a school exchange, I felt like the country has taken a spell over me. With its beautiful scenery, its culture and its warm-hearted people I was absolutely sure that I have to go to Italy after my high school graduation. And now I’m here, in Bella Italia.

I decided to go to the northwest of Italy, to Turin. Even though it is not as sunny as Sicily in the south, there is something magical about this city. When I look out of the balcony, I see the magnificent panorama of the Alps although I’m living next to the city center. Before volunteering here, I did not know a lot about Turin, except that the football club Juventus Turin plays here. That is why I did not have any expectations of the city. Now in hindsight I’m even more enthusiastic about Turin due to all its beautiful and typically Italian places and architecture contrary to the view over the Alps.

However, I do not just enjoy the city I also really like my job. In contrast to many other volunteers in Italy, it is more split up into different small jobs and therefore very diverse. I work in the Waldensian Church of Turin (the Tempio Valdese) where I am part of two different groups. At the “Accoglienza Martedì” I distribute breakfast, consisting of a bag of bread, brioche, juice, water and tissues and a hot drink such as coffee or tea, with other volunteers of the church to people in need of help, like homeless people, every Tuesday morning.

This job is really interesting because you always meet new people, but you also see the same people every week. Through this activity I have realized how lucky I actually am to be able to spend a year abroad at all. I am very grateful for that! 

At the „Accoglienza Martedì“
At the „Bicchier D‘Acqua“

Secondly, I help another group of volunteers from the church, the “Bicchier D’Acqua” which is a group containing mostly elderly women who distribute clothing to those in need. At the moment, however, the work there only consists of sorting things and discussing how to organize the distribution of clothes in times of Covid. Although since I’ve been here, the distribution has unfortunately only taken place twice so far. 

This is partly on account of the group moving to another location at the beginning of December (which they were supposed to do a year ago, but then Corona arrived), and partly because most of the volunteers are part of the risk group and therefore they could not meet very often. This is a big problem, because the homeless need warm clothes right now during the winter. For me, as a very organized and structured German, it is sometimes difficult to keep calm in this group, because everything seems so unorganized. But that’s Italy.

Another part of my work in the church consists of the “Scuola Domenicale”, where people from the church explain the content of the Bible to children in an age-appropriate way during the service. They told me that the usual age range of the children is between 8 and 12 years, but currently the group mainly consists of younger children. Because of that, it is a little harder to get their full attention after all younger kids can’t concentrate for that long. That is why, in addition to telling the stories of the Bible, there is usually a creative session in which the children can do handicrafts or paint something.

Especially at the “Scuola Domenicale” the language of the children is interesting for me too, since it allows me to get to know a completely different level of Italian. Though I am turning this difficulty (of children’s Italian) into a personal challenge and I want to understand the children’s Italian fully at the end of the year.

In general, it is advantageous to be able to speak Italian well, especially during the activities of the church where you mostly work with older people, who usually don’t speak any other language. I have mainly noticed this because the people I work with have told me how happy they are this year to have a volunteer who already knows Italian, considering that in the past there have been repeated misunderstandings or incomprehension due to the language barrier. 

I get on very well here with my Italian, which I studied in German high school for five years. Nonetheless, I learn a few new words every day and that should always be the aim. In any case, my knowledge of the language made it easier for me to start my voluntary service and thus to enter into the Italian culture. A big advantage is that I only live with Italian college students in a large apartment for about 15 people, all of whom are very open and friendly. That is why I am forced to speak Italian all the time. 

Besides my job at the church, I also work at another institution, called YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). YWCA is “a social promotion association that promotes the emancipation of women and whose mission is gender equality” ( with three locations in Italy: Torre Pellice, Rome and headquartered here in Turin. For this, YWCA has projects like social housing. With this, YWCA accommodates families in economic-social difficulties and single or mistreated women of diverse cultures. Thus, the person can live alone or with their family. Additionally he/she is protected by the facility and can turn to the staff such as social assistants for any problems. The staff helps them, for example, with bureaucratic matters or other questions.

I am very happy to be working at YWCA. I spend two afternoons a week there and at the moment I mostly play with a sweet little girl from Senegal who is two and a half years old. As a result of me looking after her for an hour or an hour and a half, her mother can take some time for herself and, for instance, do some work for her Italian course or go shopping which can sometimes be difficult with a young child. 

I really enjoy this work because I love to play with children. It’s so nice to watch the girl start to talk, and it is always funny when she tries to repeat words after me. Afternoons like this always make me smile and that is exactly what wanted for my voluntary service. To be able to enjoy my work. 

Normally there are more children living in the houses of YWCA, but due to the pandemic no new people are being admitted right now, which means that there are only three children currently living here . I rarely play with the other two though, as they are often not there when I work. In addition, my work at YWCA also consists of one morning a week where I mainly help in the office or do things that the staff does not have time for. Above all, this workplace is very organized and structured, which makes everything very unproblematic and easy.

Nevertheless, I wish I worked more in the office because I really like it. The task I have enjoyed the most so far was when I decorated the Christmas tree in the large common room. For this task, I took a lot of time but I think that was acceptable since that is also part the Italian lifestyle: taking a lot of time for everything; whether it’s working or eating. As if to say: Enjoy every moment!

Overall, here in Turin a very nice place to work for volunteers as it is particularly impressive due to its diversity. Therefore, my placement is suitable for all those future volunteers who are searching for a diverse and non-monotonous job.

Quindi venite a Torino e godetevi la dolce vita! 

Bella Italia!

Spesso si sente dire: “Viva il tuo sogno!” Ma qualunque esso sia… ognuno deve decidere per se stesso. Il mio sogno era di vivere per un lungo periodo in Italia. Ora sto vivendo quel sogno.

L’Italia mi ha sempre affascinato con tutte le sue sfaccettature, sia durante le vacanze in famiglia che durante uno scambio scolastico. Il paese mi ha ammaliato con i suoi bei paesaggi, la sua cultura e la sua gente così affettuosa. Per me era chiaro: dovevo andare in Italia dopo la maturità. E ora eccomi qui, nella bella Italia.

Sono finita nel nord-ovest dell’Italia, a Torino. Anche se non è la parte d´Italia più soleggiata, come per esempio la Sicilia, questa città ha comunque qualcosa di particolare. Quando guardo dal balcone, posso vedere lo splendido panorama delle Alpi nonostante mi trovi proprio nel centro della città. Prima di questo servizio di volontariato non sapevo molto di Torino, tranne che qui gioca la Juventus; per questo non avevo aspettative dalla città. Dopo averci vissuto per quasi sei mesi, riesco ad apprezzare appieno la città, con i suo splendidi paesaggi, i suoi monumenti, la sua storia e le sue piazze. Proprio le sue piazze, hanno su di me un grande fascino, essendo uno degli elementi più tipici dell’Italia. 

Non mi piace solo la città, ma anche il mio lavoro. Infatti, a differenza di molti altri volontari in Italia che si occupano di un‘unica attività, io ho tanti impieghi diversi. Lavoro nella Chiesa Valdese di Torino (il Tempio Valdese). Lì faccio parte di due gruppi diversi. All’”Accoglienza Martedì”, insieme ad altri volontari, distribuisco la colazione a persone bisognose. Si tratta talvolta di senzatetto, a cui diamo una borsa al cui interno ci sono due panini, una brioche, succo di frutta, acqua, fazzoletti e una bevanda calda come caffè o tè.

Questo lavoro è davvero interessante perché incontro sempre nuove persone, ma riesco anche a riconoscere le facce di coloro che vengono abitualmente. Questa attività in particolare mi fa capire quanto sono fortunata ad avere quello che ho: un tetto sopra la testa, il cibo a tavola, una famiglia attorno a me che mi vuole bene e mi supporta a tal punto da farmi trascorrere un anno come questo all’estero.

Al mio lavoro dell‘“Accoglienza Martedì“
Al mio lavoro del “Bicchier D‘Acqua“

Inoltre, aiuto un altro gruppo di volontari della Chiesa, il “Bicchier D’Acqua”. Si tratta di un gruppo di signore che distribuisce vestiti ai bisognosi. Purtroppo, da quando sono qui, abbiamo potuto farlo solo due volte. I motivi sono due. Il primo è che i membri del gruppo sono anziani e quindi, essendo più a rischio di ammalarsi di Covid non è stato possibile incontrarsi. Il secondo è che la sede è stata spostata, invece che l’anno scorso, solo lo scorso dicembre (ed il Coronavirus non ha aiutato).

 Per questi motivi, infatti, il nostro lavoro consiste solo nello smistare le cose e nel discutere come organizzare la distribuzione dei vestiti seguendo le adeguate regole sanitarie. Questo è un grande problema perché, soprattutto ora che è inverno, la gente ha bisogno di vestiti caldi. Per me, da tedesca molto organizzata e strutturata, a volte è difficile non perdere la pazienza perché tutto sembra un po’ disorganizzato. Però questo è anche l’Italia.

Un’altra parte del mio lavoro nella Chiesa è la “Scuola Domenicale”, dove i bambini tra gli 8 e i 12 anni vengono introdotti al contenuto della Bibbia durante il culto. L’approccio utilizzato dipende dall’età dei bambini, anche se ora ad aderire a questa iniziativa, sono solo quelli più piccoli. Avendo ancora difficoltà a mantenere la concentrazione, una tecnica utilizzata è quella del bricolage o del disegno, da alternare ai racconti della Bibbia. Questo lavoro è per me una costante sfida. Il linguaggio dei bambini è così diverso da quello degli adulti, che i sembra di stare imparando una nuova lingua.

Il fatto che io sappia parlare bene l’italiano è un grande vantaggio in quanto nelle attività della chiesa sono coinvolte principalmente persone anziane, che dunque non conoscono molte lingue. I volontari con cui lavoro me l’hanno fatto notare soddisfatti, raccontandomi di numerose incomprensioni degli anni precedenti.

Ho studiato l’italiano per 5 anni a scuola, quindi appena arrivata in Italia e appena iniziato il lavoro di volontariato non ho avuto difficoltà linguistiche. Anche se le mie basi erano già buone, mi rendo conto di aver migliorato molto il mio italiano e di impararlo sempre meglio ogni giorno che passa. Un grande vantaggio è che mi ritrovo ad essere sempre “costretta” a parlare italiano siccome i miei coinquilini sono tutti italiani, ed essendo molto aperti e amichevoli, passiamo molto tempo assieme. 

Oltre alla chiesa, lavoro anche in un’altra struttura, la YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). Si tratta di «un’associazione di promozione sociale che opera nel favorire l’emancipazione femminile e la cui missione è il raggiungimento della parità di genere» ( con tre sedi in Italia: Torre Pellice, Roma e quella centrale qui a Torino. Di questo posto di lavoro apprezzo molto la buona struttura ed organizzazione tali da rendere il lavoro molto semplice.

La YWCA ha progetti come il SOCIAL HOUSING grazie al quale vengono ospitate famiglie in difficoltà economico-sociali e donne sole o maltrattate di diverse culture. In questo modo, gli ospiti di questa struttura sono protetti e possono rivolgersi ai collaboratori, tra cui gli assistenti sociali, per problemi di qualsiasi genere.

Sono molto felice di lavorare all’YWCA e mi occupo di passare il tempo con i bambini. Normalmente ce ne sono molti ma a causa della pandemia non vengono accolte nuove persone, e quindi ci sono solo tre bambini. Due di questi raramente sono in struttura mentre ci sono io, quindi gioco con una graziosa bambina senegalese di due anni e mezzo. Faccio in modo di prendermi cura di lei per un’ora o un’ora e mezza in modo tale che la mamma possa anche prendersi del tempo per sé, facendo i compiti per il corso di italiano o facendo la spesa. Questo lavoro mi piace molto perché amo giocare con i bambini piccoli. È così bello vedere la bambina che inizia a parlare, ed è anche divertente quando cerca di ripetere le mie parole (immaginatevi la scena in cui lei ha cercato di imitarmi mentre dicevo “Abracadabra”). Questo è il tipo di lavoro che mi appassiona maggiormente perché regala sempre un sorriso, è divertente e piacevole. 

Inoltre, il mio lavoro all’YWCA consiste anche nello svolgere lavoro di ufficio. Mi piace molto e mi piacerebbe durasse di più. Altre volte alleggerisco il lavoro degli atri collaboratori. Mi ricordo del giorno in cui sono stata incaricata di decorare l’albero di Natale nella grande sala comune. Ne ero così entusiasta che mi sono presa molto tempo per farlo. 

Dopo tutti questi mesi in questo paese posso dire di starmi abituando allo stile di vita degli italiani, o per lo meno di starci provando intensamente: vivo la vita con calma e serenità prendendomi un sacco di tempo per tutto, sia che si tratti di cibo, sia che si tratti di lavoro. Non so se è una cosa positiva, ma sto anche cercando di non arrivare più così puntuale a lavoro. Per me è difficile, quindi devo costringermi ogni giorno a camminare più lentamente. 

Trascorrere un anno all’estero vuol dire non solo imparare la lingua, ma anche assimilarne la cultura. Per questo, tornata in Germania, nessuno potrà incolparmi se arriverò in ritardo agli appuntamenti o se resterò a tavola per troppo tempo… o così spero.

In generale, Torino è un posto molto bello per lavorare come volontaria, perché la sua eterogeneità comporta una grande diversificazione nelle attività. In questo modo non c’è rischio che io mi annoi svolgendo un lavoro troppo monotono. 

Quindi, venite a Torino e godetevi la vita!

Where the sun is always shining.

A report of my experiences in Sicily.

Hello guys, I’m Johannes. I’m 18 years old and I’m currently doing my German civil service in Sicily.
I graduated high school in spring of 2020 and departed from Germany to Italy in the beginning of September 2020. First I visited a friend in Trento. After that I travelled south and arrived in Palermo where we had a seminar with young people which was organized by the Diaconia Valdese. During this seminar we learned a lot about the whole organization, the city of Palermo and we met many interesting people from different countries. (I already knew some of them from another seminar in Germany). We had a tight schedule but it was a really good time and we enjoyed ourselves very much. Especially due to the personal relationships formed with other volunteers during our seminar. My personal highlight was our city rally through Palermo. Sadly the seminar lasted only a few days. Nevertheless I was glad to finally arrive at my destination, Riesi. Riesi is a little city in the heart of Sicily. Our structure is called Servizio Cristiano and it is located slightly outside of town. It is a beautiful place in the countryside. Surrounded by olive groves you really want to sit outside all day and enjoy the sun.The Servizio Cristiano has existed for almost 60 years and is a structure, which looks out for the people of Riesi, especially for the children. It contains a kindergarden, an elementary school and a pre-kindergarden. The kids eat breakfast and lunch every day, which is always cooked with fresh, local and healthy ingredients by our kitchen staff.
Usually the Servizio offers a great range of cultural activities. Unfortunately, in 2020 it was almost impossible to organize events thanks to Covid. The therapy centre of the Servizio is offering the opportunity to go to therapy regardless of the financial situation of its clients. There is also a guesthouse where one can book a room and additionally there is the possibility to book for full board. Another important part is the organic agriculture. The Servizio produces mainly olive oil but there are still some almond trees, lemon trees, orange trees and some mandarin trees. In addition, vegetables are grown in order to serve the kitchen. One of the latest projects is the CivicoCivico, a house in the city of Riesi, which belonged to the mafia. After the confiscation the Servizio was entrusted with the usage of this premise. They have already renovated the first floor. The other three are yet to follow. The CivicoCivico is meant to be a free and safe space for children to learn and play in the afternoon. Two or three employees of the Servizio, who are available to talk to the children and help them to develop projects and realize their ideas, always open it.
In Riesi the possibilities for children, teenagers and young adults are limited. Thus the CivicoCivico is a great and necessary project in the heart of the city.

The volunteers usually work with the children or in the agriculture (where we help harvesting olives and grow vegetables) and kitchen. We also share a house called “la casa dei volontari”. This year me and four other volunteers live in la casa dei volontari.
I work in the kitchen and the elementary school. A part of my job is to distribute breakfast and lunch.
Another part is helping with the lessons of the first grade for some time in the afternoon where I assist the teacher with taking care of the children’s needs. I also help the Bus driver to assure that the kids remain calm on their way home and in case of an emergency I could react and help instantly. Other tasks are for example cleaning tables or washing the dishes or anything that needs to be done in terms of school or kitchen.
I really like my work and I am happy that I can do many different tasks every day. The work environment is great. From day one all employees of the Servizio are really friendly and welcoming.
A lot of our colleagues are young adults. We have a great time working and spending our free time with them.
I applied for this volunteer year in October 2019. Since then a lot has changed for sure. At the beginning, I was not even certain if I really liked the idea of leaving everything behind and going to a foreign country. During the application process, I had no idea how unprepared I actually was for the “real world”. I missed some deadlines and struggled completing the application. It was really a mess, but in the end I am incredibly happy that I did not give up after missing the first deadline on accident.

A typical lunch at school

To answer some of the stereotypes about Italy (especially the south): Yes, the food is really nice and we eat a lot of pasta and pizza. Yes, there are a lot of open-minded people, who do not hesitate to show their affection. Yes, the marketplaces are pretty and there are always people who enjoy the sun. Yes, the mafia still exists and yes, there is a lot of environmental pollution. However, as it is in any place in the world, these stereotypes only apply to an extent and often do not even come close to describe the actual lives of the people.
There are always new and surprising things to discover. In consequence, going abroad and living a life in a foreign country in the first place is about entering your destination without prejudices and being unbiased with the object of learning about the lives of the people and their culture as well as trying to be better at understanding the people’s perspective and their living-situation.
In Riesi it is quite simple to get to know people. In the city centre are some bars and many young adults who know former volunteers and are interested in getting to know you. We have made some friends, which to be honest clearly would have been a lot easier without Covid. During our first five months we have already learned a lot. We have left our homes and now we have started working. We have met many interesting people who showed us new perspectives. Not only because we did not know them before, also because of their different cultural backgrounds we exchange many interesting and sometimes new thoughts.For example: some of my newly made friends here in Riesi established an organization for almost ten years. They rented a house, renovated it and constructed a bar, a studio and many more things inside. They organised trips through Sicily, concerts or events. Although that association closed two years ago, there are still many people talking about the things they did. A friend of mine told me a lot about their association and what they were able to achieve. All in all I was really impressed by their general idea: If there are no possibilities in your hometown, try to create them.
That is a thought I want to bring home as soon as I return.

We also learning a lot about language since it is a very big deal for us here in Riesi. Not only because it is not our native language, but also because a lot of people do not speak Italian. They speak Sicilian or the even more special dialect of Riesi. Sometimes this can be quite confusing. Nonetheless, it is not only confusing, yet it also teaches you about the really interesting and sometimes mind-blowing heritage of dialect-words. But do not worry everyone tries to communicate with you. Thus in the beginning you are not going to learn Italian. First you are going to learn a mixture of different languages (mostly: sign, Italian, English, a little German). After some time one is then prepared to learn Italian.
Usually, people, who live in this city, also have a house and fields outside of Riesi. This is caused by the fact that we are located in the countryside thus there is plenty of space outside the towns. We are really enjoying the existence of these premises because going there for lunch together with some friends is a beautiful activity. You can do a barbecue, you can cook, you can play cards or you can play music as loud as you want. You can basically do whatever you want to do, because these are very isolated places without neighbours and if there are, you are separated by a big olive grove. On the flip side the flats in the city are often pretty cramped and close to each other, the streets are very narrow and your neighbours live closely to your doorstep.
The last part of the city I am going to talk about is driving a car in this town. The traffic is not like the traffic I used to know. I am from a small town in the countryside of Germany. Now I live again in the countryside in a rather small town. Still the traffic is nowhere near comparable due to not only different rules, but also, like I said earlier, caused by the narrow streets, the countless crossroads everywhere and the sharply bending roads. Added to that there is a system of one-way streets which initially seems confusing but you get used to it. Another interesting experience is getting to know typical Sicilian activities or things. For example, a roommate and I really adore playing cards and now some of our friends teach us typical Sicilian card games with typical Sicilian cards.

Last but not least I have to to tell you about one of the most important aspects of my life. The food. It is stunning. The fruits and vegetables taste like I have lived in hell my whole life and now arrived in heaven. A further change in my life regarding food is that I now eat pasta or pizza every day, usually pasta circa six times a week and pizza once every seven days. One could think that this is a rather bad change in my life. But it is not! You literally can eat pasta every day. Of course sometimes I miss the diverse potato dishes from Germany but pasta can taste so differently that at least until now I have never been bored of the food. Living in Germany I was barely going to church, that has changed lately. Before the Christmas holiday Lockdown we began to establish a rhythm of going to church and after church getting Aperitivo (alcoholic drinks with snacks) at a near bar together with friends. Sadly we could not continue this habit since the bars started closing again as a result of harder corona measures, but we cannot wait to pick it up again.
In general I cannot wait until the daily social life returns. At the same time we are really grateful for all the experiences we have made. I can recommend all of you to do a social service abroad. This decision is already one of the best ones I have ever made.
Thank you for reading through this mess. If you like to have a look at my blog or listen to my podcast.
Johannes, Riesi, 01.02.2021

Volunteering in Florence

When we decided to spend our voluntary service in Italy, many things crossed our minds. The culture, the language, the landscape…. And we young people in the middle of all. Even if we already went to Italy on our holidays when we were younger, we didn’t know everything about this beautiful country and its culture. How could this possibly work? Where would be our place in the Italian life? These are THE questions, everyone is thinking about before starting a volunteer year abroad. The good thing is? Once you’ve arrived wherever you’re going, it doesn’t matter any more. Like…at all. Everything will take its way, everything will be fine, you’ll survive. And even more! You’re going to be a part of something big. You might feel little and small at the beginning of it, but soon after starting your voluntary service, you won’t question your importance anymore and that’s one of the best feelings in the world.

We spent the first few days after our arrival in Florence on 10th September in a strict quarantine in our new flat. It was a very chilled time to get to know each other and because there wasn’t much else to do we spent our days with a lot of cooking and playing cards. But with our negative Covid19 test, we were finally allowed to go out, explore the city that will be our home for the next year and… of course, probably the most exciting part: to start our work at „Il Gignoro“, a retirement home across the street. As we already predicted, the first weeks were pretty intense. We overcame language difficulties with nervous giggles and a lot of gestures and even if we didn’t understand much in the very beginning, we started to say one sentence more each day and the extremely nice people that live and work in „Il Gignoro“ indicated that we could be very proud of ourselves, which we were. We always used to go to bed exhausted, hoping that one day we suddenly wouldn’t be tired after work anymore. Getting up early in the morning was pretty hard in the beginning but knowing that later we would bring so much joy to the elderly people that haven’t had a lot contact to other people outside the house due tot he Covid situation helped a lot and made us feel needed. Even if we experienced that famous „culture shock“, it wasn’t much of a shock, rather than just new ways of showing affection and gratitude. We herad the words „Ciao, Amore! Grazie, ti amo!“ a looooot! And it felt good! The prejudices of Italians always being noisy and chaotic turned out to be a (loud) friendly and open hearted way of approaching life instead that made us feel loved and welcome.

Our Workplace, “Il Gignoro”

Our work here is split in an early and a late shift and the work we do depends entirely on the ward we are placed in. There are the modules yellow, red, bia and blue that define different kinds of autonomy and diseases both mental and physical.

We start at eight in the morning and go up to the rooms of the guests. We help them get dressed and bring them downstairs to have breakfast (or as Italians say „colazione“ – one coffee and a cookie). There are nurses and so called „animatrice“ in our placement and our work is a mixture of both of them. We help the guests go to the bathroom, take a shower and feed them like the nurses but we also help with and organize the entertainment activities such as doing the crosswords, knitting, singing and listening to music (Andrea Bocelli – always!). We do a little bit of everything that is necessary and after our first weeks we changed the ward we work in so we would get a better overview and be able to choose later where we want to stay for the rest of the year.

It is certainly not an easy work and of course we struggled along the way. It can be hard to be confronted with death and sickness and with people who are suffering everyday and not really being able to change that. And it is definitely hard to get used to taking people to the bathroom, washing them, dealing with private and human parts that normally are nobody’s business. But you get used to it, you get better and someday you start to see all the good things we are able to do. Every hand we can hold is a success and every smile we can cause is a victory.

On some days what we do feels small and insignificant but when we speak with the guests and really have the time to listen to them we can see what a great deal it is for them that we are there. And that really is reason enough to stay.

But for the last weeks everything has been different. Since the 13th of November we have been a red zone so we could not go to work and even though we are orange now, we still cannot work inside the residence because it is too dangerous. We are helping by doing grocery shopping and visiting the elderly couple next to our flat because they feel lonely but it is a very difficult situation. We know that the guests we got to know within the last months are now lonelier than ever and it is hard not being able to help but these times are extraordinarily hard for everyone. It might be the strangest and hardest Christmas we have ever experienced but we decided to stay here.

2020 has been a very difficult year for new beginnings and many people had to cancel plans to spend a year abroad. But even with all the restrictions we have to deal with and all the things we can’t do, we experienced so much and made so many memories and learned valuable lessons that we would never want to miss! Even in 2020 a year abroad is an amazing experience and it will only get better.

The river Arno, 20 minutes away from our flat

Paula Friedel and Priska Bertram, Florence

Una vita a Luserna San Giovanni

„Ciao, come va?“ 

Right now I don’t know how often I already said this sentence in the last two months since I am here in Luserna San Giovanni, working in the „Asilo Valdese“, a home for elderly people. But with the rare Italian knowledge that I started with (I started to learn it for myself two months before I arrived), I enjoyed especially those little sentences that I could answer and the way to communicate from day to day a bit more. 

But where to start, when I have to write here a little blog entry? My work, my workplace, my adventures (therefore aren’t many, because of our friend Corona) and my surrounding. It is so much to tell you all about. 

So, as I already said I am living here in the little city of Luserna San Giovanni in the north-west of Italy, that is a part of the „Val Pellice“ (valley) and therefore completely surrounded by mountains. Thus, every time I look out of the window I see the mountains, right now as  it’s getting colder also covered with some snow. So, it is obvious that we often spend time outside, also because the apartment that I share with another voluntary isn’t that big, and just enjoy the nature. Luckily, we got for each one of us a bicycle, so even with those we can go and explore the beautiful landscape around us. 

Recently I also saw on a little bike trip kiwi and kaki trees, beneath lots of regular apple and pear trees and to be honest I haven’t seen those fruits before on a tree (Have you already seen some?) and I was kindly surprised.

Beneath that beautiful nature, Luserna San Giovanni isn’t that exciting for someone who comes from a big city (Leipzig), but you can find here everything you need and also there are some restaurants and bars. 

And, a big plus for the city, we have here a chocolate factory named „Caffarell“, which produces really good chocolate and where you can buy tons of chocolate and get almost lost into the shop.

The next big city for us is Torino, about 1.5 hours away, but good reachable with the train and the bus. There you can find everything what your heart wants and it is a gorgeous city with a lots of old buildings, churches and museums. So, we went there two times already, not only for the city, but also to visit other voluntaries. Those who live there let us stay at their place, which is by the way a recommendation to all of you reading this entry: visit the other voluntaries and explore their surroundings and cities/villages and you can sleep there for no money, which is a plus.

Now to the topic of work. I used to work in the physiotherapy with the elderly people, which starts to pick them up in their wheel chairs and accompany them from their rooms to the „palestra“, which is like the „gym“ for the old people. There they can do different exercises, like walking up a little stairway or bicycle (of course while sitting), but for the most of them it is just a blessing to get up from their wheelchair (over 50% of the elderlies are sitting in a wheelchair) and walk with the help of a rollator and us some steps. 

Sometimes, I also participate in the afternoon in a group for the elderlies, where we are doing some games with balls or rackets with them to keep them moving.

Despite this, I have to help daily with the “pranzo”, so getting the old people ready for lunch with putting on a bib, then giving them plates with food and of course, which isn’t the greatest joy, but what is really necessary, to clean the tables after eating. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the work with the elderlies, because right now during those weird times I wasn’t able to take some. Luckily my placement is so modern or at least they try their best to be, they have their own Facebook page and I was allowed to take some pictures from there. 

two elderly men, who are just the sweetest;
here in the garden of the “Asilo Valdese”

All in all, I completely enjoy to work in my placement and with the elderlies, all of them are so kind and heartwarming that it is really a pleasure to work with them. Even though it can be difficult sometimes, when they are grumpy or you have to motivate them to do a “workout”.  It’s also a blessing for them to have some young volunteers around them, because we are able to just take time to talk or to give them a hand, which the normal workers aren’t able to do often, because they are mostly in a hurry to get things done or to make the old people clean or sleep-ready. 

some elderlies at a concert in september

But I will not complain, the personnel here is so kind (at least the most ;)) and they really try to interact and communicate with us. Even if I am not able to answer in excellent or even just complete sentences.  I already even learned some words from the accent here (Piemontese) and every time I use those words, I make everyone so happy, especially the old people, even if it is just one word.  What I noticed here is that it doesn’t matter if you can speak a language fluently or if you just speak some words (I didn’t learn Italian at school and arrived with a rare knowledge), however when you are open and friendly to everybody they definitely return the happiness. Often you don’t know who they are and what their background is, but a smile is something that connects us through all of this. Especially the elderlies are the most joyful people; when you smile at them and when you laugh with them, even if you didn’t understand the reason why you are laughing.

Va bene, that is it already, I am done with my little blog entry.  Spero che ti è piaciuto e forse ti ha incuriosito. 

Allora (by the way, a word you can use almost every time): CIAO!

Creating Chances

When you start creating a new life, new friendships, new relationships and you think that this can’t get better, you will see yourself leaving everything behind and returning back to your old life. I know that this sounds terrible and for some people it’s a nightmare but this is EVS baby!

Visiting Rome, Venice, Sardinia doesn’t sound like a nightmare at all, I would rather say paradise. Living one year in Turin and meeting people from different backgrounds was a treasure that I wouldn’t change with many things. Working in Il Passo Social Point and creating a family was a blessing that I always will hold in the shelf of best memories. Having the opportunity to be the first and the only volunteer from Kosovo for Diakonia Valdese Italy, I would call it a unique experience and something special that will open many doors to other Kosovo volunteers. Loosing and Finding myself in the ways that I never imagined that I would find was the cherry on top.  

During this whole one-year period I had time to reflect in many ways and reconstruct a lot of things in different dimensions. Seeing and meeting a lot of teenagers and youngsters from EU countries, I became more aware of the possibilities that they have and in other side this fact made me reflect even more about Kosovo teenagers & youngsters and the lack of opportunities that they have, despite being one of the most ambitious youth that I ever meet. So I started thinking how can I give the youth of my country more chances to express themself and their talent in Europe. Since EVS is not very famous in Kosovo, organizing information campaing’s for EVS around Kosovo was my first idea that came in my mind. So the youth of my country can get out there, give their best like I did and explore Europe without thinking about VISA. The first stop will be city of Mitrovica where thanks to the help of Youth Center Diakonia Kosova we will organize first informative campaing about EVS. So anyone from Kosovo who is reading this post is welcomed to join us in Mitrovica.

Meanwhile in the beginning of September I’ve got an offer from Giovani Nel Mondo Association to be Ambassador of Rome International Careers Festival 2020, which I accepted with all my pleasure. The Festival is composed of four main projects (Business Game, Press Game, United Nations Model, Careers Course) which participants can apply to, base on their academic background, professional aspirations or general interest.

The Festival has an area which is entirely open to the public: The International Careers Fair. The Fair is a large exhibition area open to both participants and the public alike. It will be divided into two different sections: the education/university area and the work/internship area. It favours the interaction between thousands of students, whether they are looking for study/training/internship/work opportunities, and industry experts. There are a limited number of places for all four projects. In order to participate, you must complete the application form and pass the selection process. The APPLICATION and REGISTRATION of aspiring participants must be completed and submitted by the 20th of December 2019. The Festival is a good way for youngsters to find many job opportunities, get in contact with many university’s and meet people from all around the World. I would suggest everyone who loves an international career to apply.

For more information about Festival click this link : Rome Careers Festival 2020

At the end of this whole experience I understood that in the road of embroidering your own wings, you can embroider and color hundred other wings, and give them to people who never had a pair.

Tell Me – Training for Youth Workers


Tell me Training is a project that took place in Villa Olanda from the 13th to the 16th of November 2018.

The countries involved were:

  1. Italy → CSD-Diaconia Valdese
  2. Kosovo → Diakonie Kosova
  3. Estonia → Pillistfer
  4. Portugal → Collippo
  5. Romania → Nevo Parudimos
  6. Turkey → Pi Youth Association
  7. Ukraine → Living Hope
  8. Spain → Nueva Vida

 The aim of the project was to create a new methodology that can be tested and used by each partner Country. The idea was taken from the reflection about Kosovo’s good practice.

During Easter time a Youth Exchange was organized and it was the occasion to test the new methodology.

The days during the training were fundamental to collect ideas and to brainstorm about the interreligious dialogue. It was an opportunity to exchange experiences and to inspirate each other by sharing methods used in each partner Country.

Tell me Youth Exchange took place in Villa Olanda from the 26th April to the 3rd May 2019. The Countries involved were:

  1. Italy → CSD-Diaconia Valdese
  2. Kosovo → Diakonie Kosova
  3. Estonia → Pillistfer
  4. Ukraine → Living Hope

The Youth Exchange involved young people (from 14 to 17 years old) coming from these four Countries. It was led and organized by four Youth Leaders that have participated to the previous training.

The aim of the Youth Exchange is to promote the interreligious dialogue and multiculturalism between youngsters using the new methodology that has been created during the first part of the project.


DAY ONE – 13/11/2018

After breakfast, the participants met in the common room to start the activities.

Laura, the responsible of the project, introduced herself and her role in the CSD (Commissione Sinodale per la Diaconia) and after she explained briefly the program of the training.

The ice breaking games were a way to start to know each other better and it was an opportunity to start to work together and to do a general brainstorming of some key words. Participants were split in three groups and each one of them had a word: Religion, Culture and Dialogue. Later on they shared the ideas and discussed all together.

Erika Tommasone, pastor of the Waldensian Church, presented the part of the waldensian history related to the training topic and everyone was free to ask her questions. The interest was focused on how Diaconia works nowadays.

The morning session finished with one last activity called Post your post-it: everyone had to write their fears, expectations and contribution to the training and stick it on a paper on the wall.

FotoTraining3.pngThe meeting was set after lunch and Miradin, the only participant from Kosovo, introduced the good practice of his organization. In Mitrovica they founded a Youth Centre to open the dialogue between people of different confessions. They offer a wide range of activities for youngsters: like films evening, karaoke night and intercultural feasts. He finished his speech by showing a video taken from a movie called: “The Messanger” and through a Skype call presented Agon, young member of Diakonia Kosova. This gave the inspiration to share the activities that each partner is doing in their sending organization and the group discovered new good practices that some of them will present later on in Tell me Youth Exchange.

A daily evaluation closed the first day, a general discussion summed up the most relevant ideas.


DAY TWO – 14/11/2018

The day started with the intervention of Luca Bossi, an expert about History and Sociology of Religion.

The workshop was focused on the role of religion in the contemporary society. He spoke about the relationship between politics, religion and private life. He put the highlight on how ghettos were created, on Waldensian History and on the most relevant religious aspects of the city of Turin.

The presentation ended with pictures of Mosques, Synagogues, Orthodox Catholics and Protestants churches in a specific neighborhood of Turin.

After a short break the group did a SWOT Analysis. The aim was to stress the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the kosovarian Good Practice. This exercise helped the group to analyse in an objective way also the activities that they are doing in their organizations.

The afternoon session started by reading the template of the Tell me Youth Exchange program and the following two hours were dedicated to point out the relevant activities proposed by the partners which could be possibly used there.

We collected opinions, practical activities and suggestions that on the last day would have been reconsidered, reexamined and eventually implemented.

FotoTraining6In the second part of the afternoon the group went to visit the

Waldesian Culture Centre in Torre Pellice. The guide talked about Waldensian history and presented the cultural and religious identity of this protestant minority.



DAY THREE – 14/11/2018

The group spent the whole day in Turin. The first activity was at Il Passo Social Point, community centre of CO in the multiethnic neighborhood of Barriera di Milano.

There the participants met two members of FGEI (Federation of youngsters of Evangelical Church), who explained their role in the association and their projects with young people.

Later, two EVS volunteers working at Il Passo talked about the centre, what they do there and when it was born.

FotoTraining8After few hours of free time, the group met again in Porta Nuova, where a guide of Migrantour was waiting to show them the multiethnic aspects of San Salvario, another neighborhood in Turin. The stops were a Mosque, a Synagogue, the Waldensian church and a Catholic church. The participants had the chance just to go inside the Mosque and the Catholic oratory and to interact with an imam and a priest, who explained the principles of their religions and were opened to answer questions and solve doubts. The Imam talked briefly about the five fundamentals of Islam and he let the group see the Mosque while some muslims were praying.

The catholic priest welcomed the group in the oratory and presented a russian girl who was becoming a nun and a kurdish boy, who arrived in the city the previous day. The day ended with an happy hour back in Villa Olanda.


DAY FOUR – 15/11/2018


The final day started with a general evaluation of the training.

Each participant gave a feedback and voted which activities could be suitable to be done during the youth exchange. The group agreed that for the youth exchange:

  1. It’s necessary to have a general introduction about religions, but more interactive and less frontal
  2. The Migrantour was interesting, but it would be better to visit all the religious building inside (also the Synagogue and the Waldensian Church)
  3. It’s important to give to the young people a background before the tour by showing them what we are going to visit (i.e. the pictures of the religious buildings they are going to see; a Bible, a Torah, a Coran…; la Ghieisa d’la tana, celebrate together rituals of different religions.)
  4. It would be better not to be repetitive (i.e. the Waldensian history was repeated in different occasions..)
  5. It could be relevant for the youngsters to meet the migrants living in the oratory and to participate to some of their activities (i.e. going to il parco del Valentino)


The work on the new methodology ended with many suggestions, that can be summed up in these categories:


  • Team building:
    • One Step Forward: each participant receive a paper with a different role (i.e. “You are 20 years old, syrian refugee, for six months in Romania” or “You are 26 years old, daughter of a famous politician in your country”). Each of them should feel, think and walk like the character. Later display them in a line and start to ask them questions about social, economical and political aspects and see after what happened. Reflect all together on the characters and how they felt in their role. Aim: reflect about stereotypes and prejudice.
    • Spaghetti tower: split the participants into five groups. Each of them will have the same tools (i.e. scissor, tape, 10 spaghetti..). They have to build in 30min. the highest and most resistant tower. At the end towers will be presented and tested and the group that had the highest and the most resistant tower wins. Aim: team building and promote cooperation and creativity
    • Guess who?: give the participants 20 photos of people from different religions. Make them guessed which religion they belong and after that tell them for real their religion. What happened? Aim: Reflection  about stereotypes and prejudice .


  • Ice breaker:
    • Name game: split the group into two and put a blanket or a sheet in between. Now just two persons of each group should sit in front of the sheet. Let the wall fall down and they have to say as fast as they can the name of the other sitting in front of him/her. Who wins take also the other participant to his/her side.
    • Portraits: do two lines with the chairs and let participants sit one in front of the other. One line start and they have to start a portrait of the persons sitting in front. They will have 10sec. to do that and after, they have to leave the paper on their chair and skip one chair on the right and continue the portrait the the previous person started. The draftsman should change every 10sec. and at the end present is/her work. After, the other line can do the same and start doing portraits.
    • Don’t talk to me: without talking, participant should put in order according to their names/date of birth (day, month, year)/size of shoes.


  • Energizers:
    • Rain: participants are in a circle and one stays in the middle. Everytime that the person in the middle start to do something, the one in front of him should repeat it. The gestures are: rub hands, fingers’ snap, hit legs, jump and then come back to the beginning. Each gesture can be repeated or done with different intensity.
    • Tornado: In a lecture moment, suddenly someone says “TORNADO” and everyone should get up and change the seats. the last one who does it, should ask a question about the topic spoken.


Song: Young people could work all together and invent a song using the key words of the Youth Exchange. It could be a great opportunity to work together, fight stereotypes, and to remember for a long time what they have learned.
They could also make a video and use the song as their hymn (Youtube, radio).
Aim: create something together that they can bring back to their countries.



  • Simple and classic theater play (about religion)
  • Stop and play: split the participants into groups. each group decide a little play to act where there is a negative situation (i.e. a gay wants to get in in a club but the bodyguard at the entrance tells him that he cannot go inside because he is gay”). Later the situations will be presented and the public can stop the play and switch one character with itself to solve the problem.
  • Shadow play/shadow puppetry: flat articulated cut-out figures (shadow puppets) which are held between a source of light and a translucent screen.


General activities:

  • Famous quotes: finding out and sticking on a wall famous quotes belonging to different religions on a wall.
    Aim: help everyone to focus on the important principles of every religion and learn their similarities and differences
  • Principles: After Migrantour youngsters could find out the principles and key words of every religion
    Aim: Young people have to pay attention and to think about what they have learned.
  • Secret Friend: On the first day, each participant will receive a paper where there is the name of another participant. During the whole youth exchange the secret friends should do nice things the other person (i.e. always open the door for him/her, tell compliments, give him/her a gift…) Aim: get to know each other better, take care of somebody else.
  • Trust exercise: one person has to fall in the arms of another one, in this way they can see that they can trust each other in a practical and visual way, and at the same time they have fun!
    Aim: I understand I can say whatever I think or feel without being judged.
  • Flower of identity: everyone has to draw a flower and put himself/herself in the center. Every petal is an aspect of their life, the more the petals are near the center the more important the aspect is for them.
    Aim: how near/far religion, culture, family(…) are to me?
  • Social Tree: each group has to write a story and by drawing a tree they have to point out the problems in the story (writing them next to the roots) and the possible solutions (writing them near the leaves).
    Aim: visual way to find a solution and to cooperate, the story can be about religion.

Suggestions: make them understand on which purpose the activities are done and ask them how they felt by doing them. Be sure that all the activities are dynamic, through debates, discussion, games…


At the end of the “Creating a new methodology” session some of the participants prepared typical food from their Countries and made an Intercultural night also with the youngsters of Spazio adolescenti, a project held by the Diaconia Valdese, to give the chance to youngsters to meet and spend time together.

E già la fine…

“Ma voi francesi, parlate tanto”. E’ un’ospite dell’Asilo che mi ha detto questo un giorno. In quel momento ho riso. Non avevo mai sentito questo sui francesi. “Trovi che io parlo tanto?” Le ho riposto. “Non so, ma tu trovi le buone parole.”

Questo complimento, anche se mi ha toccato, mi ha sorpreso. Non penso di essere cosi’ brava con le parole, soprattutto nel momento in cui lei mi ha detto questo. Ero da poco arrivata in Italia e per me risultava complicato esprimere i miei pensieri correttamente in italiano. Però questo momento con lei rimarrà uno dei momenti più memorabili del mio anno di volontariato. E ricordi belli ne ho tanti: tutti questi incontri, viaggi, queste incomprensioni a causa della lingua e le differenze culturali… Conservero’ per sempre ricordi un po’ tristi, ma anche tanti ricordi felici. 

É semplice: voglio scrivere un ultimo articolo su questo blog per concludere il mio anno, però è difficile riassumere in poche righe. Penso che io prenderò completamente coscienza di questo anno solo alcuni mesi dopo che saro’ tornata a casa. Faccio fatica a credere che tutto cio’ sta per finire. Questi 11 mesi sono passati molto velocemente.

Non conto più il numero di gente con una nationalità differente di me che ho incontrato, il numero di luoghi in Italia che mi sono piaciuti un sacco, il numero di cose che ho imparato qui… Anche se la più granda sfida era di imparare l’italiano. Per esempio, all’inizio era un po’ difficile di comunicare con gli ospiti, loro erano pazienti con me e adesso abbiamo creato una bella relazione insieme. Il mio italiano non è perfetto, però sono già contenta dell mio livello e di sapere parlare questa lingua. Sono sicura che mi mancherà parlare in italiano quando sarò tornata in Francia. L’Italia semplicemente mi mancherà.

Questo anno di volontariato è stata una bella esperienza che raccomando di vivere a tutte i giovani che si chiedono se devono fare un EVS. Non dimenticherò mai questo anno e la gente che ho conosciuto. 

A presto Italia, sono sicura che ci rivedremo!!!!



Many people are scared from diversity, but thanks to this training we can show others how beautiful and magic, diversity is.

I’m so grateful that I had opportunity to be part of Tell Me project as helping organizer, and in the same time to see the creativity and joy of teenagers, and to learn more about other religions, cultures and countries.

Tell Me Project – was a project organized by Diaconia Valdese (Italy) in collaboration with Erasmus and other organizations from Kosovo, Estonia and Ukraine. The purpose of the project was to bring adolescents from four countries in one place, to discuss more about religion and culture. Every day was an opportunity to learn new things about religions, and every night an opportunity to learn new things about the countries and cultures.

Activities that we planed were different starting from team building, presenting religions with some objects or words, shadow theater, cultural nights, quizzes, visiting different religion monuments in Torre Pellice and Torino.

In team building activity as u can see also in the photo, the creativity reached next level. They worked as a team and they created different monuments only by spaghetti.
In this photo you can see five different religions presented by Tell Me project teens. Each group of teens was diverse in sense of religion, and they had to present a different religion from their own, to other groups only by some words or some symbols that represents that religion.
In the shadow theater, each team had to create a short theater scene related to religion. I was surprised by their age and their level of knowledge, because each group presented something so unique staring from stereotypes, gender-equality in religion, and things that concern today society.

In cultural nights, I learned a lot starting from Estonia I learned that they don’t have mountains at all, but they are one of the most developing countries when it comes technology. About Ukraine I learned a lot about food, music, beauty of the country, and their traditional dance turned out to be my favorite one.

Ukraine cultural night

When it came to Italy presentation, I loved everything even the stereotypes that they presented were funny. From my country Kosovo my favorite thing and most unique one, that Kosovo teens used to mention in presentation was a photo of a mosque and a church in the same garden that spoke more than 1000 words about religious harmony in Kosovo, and they used to mention that the “Religion of Albanians is Albania”.

At the end of the project I saw tears and hugs but most importantly I saw young people accepting and loving each other for who they are and what they represent as human beings .