My name is Dalila, I’m Portuguese, and I’ve been doing a volunteer project through the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) at the Nexes Interculturals cooperative, in Barcelona, since November 2020. Right now I’m in the middle of my project, which lasts for 10 months, and the time has come to reflect on the path taken and the sense of having a volunteer experience outside my country, especially at the time we live in.
It is true. The pandemic brought fear. Fear is paralyzing. But the world always follows its rhythm, society and its challenges too. For me, there is no better or worse time to help someone. There is also no special time to decide to break our fears. Having an experience outside our comfort zone always challenges us to grow.
In these five months that I collaborated with Nexes I had the opportunity to learn a new language, to educate myself in subjects related to the Culture of Peace and the Social and Solidarity Economy, and to work with more freedom issues related to communication. I met people from different countries and continents, they told me about their struggles and their projects, they also shared the way they see us, Europeans, and our habits. I met other organizations and cooperatives that fight for a fairer society, for migrants’ rights, for example, and that really work with sustainable economic models.
The virus did not destroy the will to live that is breathed in Barcelona, and the masks do not silence the speeches of the local populations in their demonstrations.
It is true that Barcelona 20/21 is not the same city full of tourists from 2018, the year I visited the city briefly on vacation. Masks are always present and gatherings are prohibited. But the vibrant and affectionate way in which Catalans live in their city remains, and it is even more visible through the parks and streets of the city. People are still kind and welcome you. The virus did not destroy the will to live that is breathed in Barcelona, and the masks do not silence the speeches of the local populations in their demonstrations. You no longer feel a grain of sand in front of the Sagrada Familia… now you have a privileged view and you can read a book quietly. It is the enchanting beauty that makes me “enamorar” more and more with this city… Even with a less promising scenario, I learned and lived so much in the last few months …
Why do an ESC volunteer project (during covid-19 pandemic and always)? Because you become a richer person personally and professionally after an experience of volunteering outside your country. You meet different people and discover new cultures and places. You have a more informed and wide view of the world. You know yourself better. You improve your skills: linguistic, communication, social… There is an idea that I highlight and that encourages me all times: the freedom, in such an intense period of history, to embrace a challenge and contribute to a more humane, fair and united society.
I feel that ESC projects unite countries within the EU more. I am very grateful to the EU, Nexes Interculturals (Spain) and Yupi (Portugal) for providing the possibility of doing this project.