19 Úno Rethinking an extraordinary experience
My voluntary work experience at the association ICM Slany‘ has given me so much in human and professional terms. I improved my ability to interact with people and boosted my language skills in two European languages. I believe that the EVS program is an extraordinary opportunity that offers young Europeans an opportunity to interface with other cultures, improve a deeper dialogue with “others”. It also means dialoguing with yourself, constantly renegotiate your identity, leave the comfort zone as the life in your country of origin.
Looking at my past experience, I think back how I have been lucky in choosing Czech Republic for my EVS, a country that has literally adopted me and gave me so much. Indeed, after my homeland Sardinia, after Italy, my third home is precisely the Czech Republic. I have met hundreds of young people from many European countries and beyond.
Czech Republic is the center of Europe, a crossroad mosaic of peoples, cultures, languages that envolves you and that enriches you of a deep personal knowledge about this extraordinary European nation. During my staying in Slany‘, I was able to appreciate all of the Central Europe lifestyle. The real one style of life, over the turistic superficial opinion. All my travel memories are etched in my mind indelibly.
The volunteer work at the association ICM-Ostrov gave me the dignity and an important purpose in a particular moment of my life. With patience and with passion in the workplace, with my colleagues and with people whom I’ve talked, I was able to see with a new optical way, the human social and cultural facts, in a less ethnocentric and less nationalistic way.
The memory of my eight months is a strong and compelling memory. My hours spent in the library with young Czech children were important because I enhanced my ability to listen and appreciate the opinion of all, and learning from everyone.
I also managed to improve my ability to teach my native language, finding with astonishment so many intelligent people interested in the study of the Italian language. If I could suggest to young people who want to approach the knowledge of Europe, I would suggest the Czech Republic for a myriad of reasons: first, the great connection to the whole of Central Europe, which allows you to travel, learn about the natural beauty and many other things that can be found there.
I loved studying the history of the Czech Republic, made up of extraordinary periods of splendor like the Middle Ages and the Bohemian Renaissance, as unfortunately the sad and tragic pages of suffering that the people of the Czech Republic have lived during the period of Nazi atrocities.. But the Czech people proves to be made of a great cultural and human matters, and their ability to recover after the great trauma of history is its greatest virtue. Of course the other great virtue of the Czech people is intercultural dialogue, their incredible passion and propensity in the study of languages, a consequence of their history where populations and cultures confronted and sometimes clashed each other.
My most vivid memory are the hours and hours spent on buses and trains, map in hand, in search of the unknown and discovering the new: people, architecture of Bohemian and Moravian cities, environment, villages, food and obviously the wonderful amazing Czech beer. Only in the journey, in the questioning of their preconceived world views you can appreciate the diversity and human wealth that multiculturalism offers.
Gian Nicola Marras