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Valentina's EVS experience

When I was moving up the escalator through the terminal at the airport and waving to my father and mother who came to say goodbye at the airport in Bari, Italy, I couldn't imagine that six months in Belgium will change my life from inside out. I strongly believed that my decision to accept the challenge to be an EVS volunteer in an association that was functioning as a language training center for young foreigners was the best decision I ever made and the best investment. Now when I can reflect everything that I learnt and the changes I experienced in my personal and professional development because I was determined to do it, I can only confirm that the experience as an EVS volunteer exceeded my expectations.

It is a real challenge for me to describe my EVS experience in only one page, and it is even more challenging to choose only one person who made my EVS special. Because I was blessed, supported and inspired from many people from different countries who were participants and trainers on the trainings for personal development, while my colleagues with whom I shared my EVS volunteering experience were my family in Belgium.

I reached my record of 10 trips in one month. For that event I must thank Ann, my colleague from Paris, who took the initiative to book a Flixbus every 4 days from our home to so many cities in Belgium and beyond. Together with Ann I also experienced Paris, Amsterdam and Düsseldorf for the first time.

Philippe, one of my colleague at La Baraka helped me to regain my self- confidence, to believe in my potential and to strive to be whatever I want to be. Philippe was a huge support to me and I will always remember his sentence: Valentina you can.

Anca was my tutor, and she was the person who had huge impact on me in overcoming my fears and wrong beliefs. My wrong belief was that I couldn't express myself by using my knowledge and my imagination in the activities done by over 20 young people in the neighbourhood. During my first day of work, everybody was sitting around a tableand participated in the activity, and I was glued on the floor, sitting and observing, not having the courage to make a move. My fears and insecurity were growing with every second, until the moment when Philippe came to me and said: You still have time to join. I started with my excuses saying that I can't make this in front of so many people. Philippe both with a sharp and soft voice said:“This is the chance. You have two options: to use this opportunity or waste it”.

I don't know how I got the courage, but I stood up, not thinking about what and how to do it. My mouth was moving, I gave it the freedom to express itself by joining the other people around me. It was amazing. When I finished, I received a lot of compliments. The second time that Philippe was my trainer was in preparing the final tests. His support was enormous. Thanks to him I succeeded in confronting myself, a process that was not at all easy; to reach my inner peace, to realize that I love myself and my life, and most of all to throw off the mask of a strong person and let everyone see how vulnerable I am.

When I showed my vulnerability I became a new person; a person who knew that the change has already started, the SVE was started. It was my time to change, and this time I was completely ready to go for it. Believe me; the process of changing your thoughts and belief programmes was not easy at all, but trust me it was worth it. I say it is worth it, because now I am saying that it is good to be me.