My life as a volunteer has just begun. I embarked on this experience out of a spontaneous and sudden decision after visiting Romania and A.C.T.O.R.’s workplaces and methods last year.
At first, I really thought that the environment in which these people were working was totally different from what I was used to back in Italy, and that surely pushed me towards wanting to be part of it, just as much as seeing the conditions of special schools and hospitals here in Bucharest… I felt like I wanted to do more and started planning on how to do it.
Now I’m a volunteer, for real, and this still feels odd sometimes because there’s so much going on in my life at the moment that I just end up feeling overwhelmed at times, but I’ve started something new and I’m part of the group of people that everyday wakes up and tries to bring a piece of themselves and their culture to the kids of Romania.
During one of my first lessons I was in Mihai Eminescu National College and together with another volunteer I was presenting my country, my traditions and collecting from kids their interest and love for Italy. I was really surprised when I found out that the kids knew things about my country that I didn’t know myself!
Everything was good, I was about to leave the classroom when a young girl approached us, holding a piece of paper with a big glittery heart and our names written around it and an extremely colourful paper unicorn… I didn’t realize until that moment, but the girl had been looking at us with shimmering eyes and a huge smile the whole lesson, and she thanked us so much for coming to them and tell all these interesting facts she didn’t know about! For me this was the first time I received a gift from a kid here in Romania.
The next day I was in the group for clinical animation in Recuperare Hospital, we planned all the activities, we brought a lot of materials and we gather all the kids around us, that day there were around 12 or 13 kids and we managed to make them play, talk and have fun together and two hours flew by, for the whole time this young boy has been sitting and talking with me, telling me about his family, showing me pictures of him and his friends and school, during vacation and all the things he liked, I thought it was really good for both of us to find that kind of connection, but as the afternoon passed it was time to say goodbye, so I held my hand towards him and smiled, waiting for a high five and to greet until next time, so he smiled back, moved my hand to the side to hug me, he didn’t say anything else and he just stood like that for a few moments before waving his hand and running back to his room.
Thinking about it now, I realise that these brief moments of deep humanity are the reason why I was so eager to come volunteering in Romania, whether they have difficult backgrounds or they are enjoying their youth, the kids are capable of giving you back all the care and love that you bring them with simple acts and smiles.