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My volunteer experience

We never know how an experience is gonna go until we live it. I could never imagine everything I went through during the two months I was in the beautiful village of Poljče, Begunje in Gorenjskem, Slovenia.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes and 2 seconds

I had no further expectations besides learning, and the first day almost made me think it would be a bad experience. I arrived at dawn in Ljubljana, and the train station was closed. It was -7ºC, and I had nowhere to take shelter. I found a room where luggage was kept, and there I remained, waiting for the 5AM train. An hour later,  I was lucky to have found a Macedonian couple. Without speaking any English, the gentleman and the lady helped me and, together, we found a coffee shop where we could take shelter. That couple's kindness gave me hope.

After that disheartening day, Slovenia opened its doors for me. I was very well received in the village of Čira Čara, and everyone took me in with a lot of joy. We were eight people from completely different cultures learning how to live in harmony. It was a very curious experience because I could understand how, despite cultural divergences, we are all one and have a lot in common. This made me stronger as a world citizen, for I could see how it's possible to live in peace.

Our incredible mentor and the council of the vila looked to value to the max everyone's cultures, and we were encouraged to show the off wherever we went (at schools, at the centre for special needs people and at the activities in the village). They also valued my learnings as a Basic Education student and challenged me to plan and execute activities.

Also, the mentor of our voluntary mentor spoke a lot with me about youth work, and this allowed me to better know this field and broaden my professional horizons with another amazing possibility. Experiencing global citizenship every day is a laudable job.

We lived our two months intensely. We travelled, walked, went many times to the capital Ljubljana (a city very small, but that makes you feel at home), to the beautiful Piran, Maribor, Kranjska Gora, Bled, Radovjlica, and so many other places inside and outside Slovenia! We truly didn't stop living that experience for a minute, and it was incredible. Thus, we signed a bond of friendship that we'll carry for the rest of our lives.

Now, socially isolated, I remember rather fondly those many good moments... The hikes to St. Peter's Church, sweet lady Mika that lives at the top of the mountain and kindly gave us the key so we could visit the fourteenth-century church there. This lady, so kind, that gave us tea, bread and sour cream, and told us about her life, her grandchildren... Slovenes have a very special knack for bringing us closer to their heart. They are charming people.

I learned from Slovenes to live closer to nature, to appreciate everything it can give us and to establish contact with Mother Earth part of my routine. I also learned that the marks of war shape the character of a people very harshly. I admire them for being so resilient and for not giving up on independence even when governed by others for over a thousand years. A people that shaped its national identity from language, poetry and literature has all of my respect.

I left Slovenia with tear-filled eyes, a heart full of gratitude and head with a neverending list of what to do on my return. I want to return to this incredible country and explore even more of all that is good about it.

Hvala lepa, Slovenija. And many thanks to Agora Aveiro for giving me and so many others the chance to live such an experience.

Luiza Ferreira

Agora Aveiro