The writing of our volunteer, Dóra Szejke, about her experiences in Kokkola
The English word “scided” is a combination of the words excited and scared. I feel that this fits perfectly with the situation when a young person is about to embark on something new, something big. There is always the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown, the stranger, but the feeling of excitement for experiencing all of this gives much more. Leaving our comfort zone is very difficult, but it is definitely rewarding.
For me, one such opportunity was to experience this at the project called “Our common path”, which I participated in from April 23 to May 31, 2022 in Finland. Within this framework, 10 young people from different parts of Europe gathered to do voluntary work together. We were very diverse, everyone had a different answer to why they were there, but what we had in common was that we set out to look for new opportunities as young people.
The inviting and attractive advantages of participating in the project that were mentioned in the invitation were fully fulfilled: getting to know a new culture through the hospitality of the local communities, an apartment in an international environment interspersed with Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and, of course, Finnish influences, as well as gathering adventures and many experiences in the while working in nature. And these all helped us to learn about and use our own strengths and abilities, which contributes to the active development of ourselves and the expansion of our development history.
We first met in the area of the Youth Center Villa Elba, which practically lies on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It was a real privilege to be at the on-arrival training in the beautiful environment there. During those initial days, we got to know each other and learned about internationalism, volunteering, conflict management and the European Solidarity Corps, among other things. We also had a Finnish language lesson, during which we managed to learn some basic words and phrases in the later Finnish environment with the help of an apartment.
The real work was in a small but beautiful rural settlement called Perho. Together with the students of the school there, we renovated tourist routes in typically Finnish landscapes. This meant mostly physical work, such as cutting bushes, cleaning small cabins and saunas. We learned to work with various tools, all in protective clothing from head to toe.
We were surrounded by fantastic people, among whom I have to mention Jorma and Mika, the two people who listened to all our questions and wishes and ensured that we could get the most out of our stay. We could try swimming in ice water, whitewater canoeing, sleeping in authentic Finnish huts with real Finnish saunas, and also what it’s like to eat bear meat for dinner. Walking on frozen water combined with an icy north wind and hiking in thigh-deep snow were also real thrills. And these are just examples of the extraordinary experiences we had there, not to mention the fact that we were able to make close friendships that would last for a long, long time.
I not only got to know new places, situations, methods and people during the project, but also myself and my path through them.
I am grateful for all of this!