In that sunny white winter, Alexander climbed the mountain for the last time. He’d had to leave soon.This was his good-bye to those such wonderful mountains and green forests, familiar places, friends and family… his old life and old thoughts. After three months on the road, backpacking through all the Europe, he’d be on the road again, this time with a purpose. A purpose that will change his life… a purpose that will change the life of all the people which he will encounter.
He had his first contact with volunteering activities exactly two years ago, when together with an unknown multinational group, decided to make a great hiking trip for a weekend in Carpathian Mountains. There is where those people all around the world talked about ideas, ways of living, ordinary people with simple lives, but with amazing ideas about freedom, most of them volunteers or nomads that 'got lost’ in Romania, people that want to bring their contribution for the world to be a better place. In that moment he realized that he wants to be more, he wanted to be like them, the moment when he realized that in order to do that he will have to break the corporatist chains, and get out of the crowd, get out of the society with its strict and stupid rules and let himself evolve. That was the moment for a change. So right after that amazing experience, he got involved in some volunteering activities around Brasov city, together with seven European volunteers, who would later become his friends. Together with them he could rediscover his city, his country but more than this, he could rediscover himself among them.
Finally, when the time came, Alexander quit his job and left to the sunny island of Cyprus. For one month, together with volunteers from Romania, Italy, Slovenia, France and Cyprus they were helping the villagers to pick up their products in the fields, they were helping them to cook traditional Cypriot products, they were painting stables, but moreover, they were helping to develop themselves into better persons and to promote that further around them, to make the world a better place, for them and for the others. When he was back on Romanian soil, he understood how happy you can be when you are living a simple life and when you are enjoying the little things.
That's how he decided to get lost in the small Europe. With a small amount of money but with a big heart and lots of hope, with a backpack, a sleeping bag and a tent, he started the journey of more than 10 000 km… only by hitchhiking.
That was the begging of his new life, but the real story was just about to happen.
- "I would have a croissant and a coffee please", he said, while he was starting the integration process in the French culture without knowing it.
- "Can you please put your seatbelt monsieur! We are preparing for landing."
- “God, those air-guardians they can see everything!“
Although it was the beginning of March, the weather in Paris was warm, the fields were green, the people were nice and the French language was tickling his ears. All of this was reminding him of the beautiful adventures he had passed through in this marvelous country, not so long time ago. Dijon was even nicer, a place that fits perfectly to his needs. As it is a medium size city, Dijon is one of the most appealing cities in France. Filled with elegant medieval and Renaissance buildings, the lively center is wonderful for strolling, especially if you like to leaven your cultural enrichment with excellent food, fine wine and shopping.
“Onva se voirplutôt just a côté de la boulangerie” was the message he just received on his phone, which in his translation was: “Probably we will see each other somewhere in an undetermined period of time in an unknown place for you”. This and the bomb alert that just happened in Gare Ville de Dijon while he was in the arriving train it was what intrigued him even more. But the hope that in a very near future he could speak with some completely strangers in an unknown language, strangers that later became his new friends.
This is how the beginning of Alexander’s adventures as an EVSvolunteer for the City Hall of Dijon has started.
What is this EVS thing, you might wonder!? The acronym refers to the European Voluntary Service. This is a program set up by the European Union to promote youth mobility. Especially for this famous lost generation Y, who’s hanging on their smartphones all day long. If their flaws start from a foundation of truth, for Alexander was impossible to deny the effect of the meetings he was able to do across the continent, meetings that have given serious ass kicking to the prejudices that he had himself.
Meetings, small projects, big projects, conferences and seminaries, unknown people that he will meet, all of this things will change Alexander’s perspective about the world, will change his life principles and his way of living. Finally, meeting the coordinator of the project at the train station after one hour and a half delay of the train was the best thing that happened in that day. After a weird French-English conversation, he managed to find out the first things about Dijon. Exhausted but really excited about the new city that will adopt him for the next seven months, he finally found the peace in his new bed, in his new house. A new day in a new city, in a new country was just about to start...
Six months have passed like the wind and here he was, again, at the beginning of a new adventure. No fixed destination, just the road in front of him. Six months living a new life, with new friends, old friends and… future friends!
You might wonder if it did worth it!? It totally did. He discovered within himself new skills that he had no idea before, skills that he could use and apply in a totally different language. He felt in love with an amazing girl… a happy story with a sad end, again! But they will meet for sure at some point in their life and they will rememorize their summer love they have lived!
“It is amazing how this experience can change you” he’s saying. “If I would have the chance again, I would totally do it one more time. Living alone or with other volunteers, being on the road traveling with friends or unknown people, all of this improves your social skills and your self-confidence. You get out of this experience a brand new person, richer, for sure not wealthier, but happier, that you brought your small contribution to the world, to make it a better place”.
The bottom line of this story is: DO your own EVS project! Write your own EVS story!
By doing so, you will change people’s life without knowing it, and they will change yours. Take the challenges and use them in a constructive way, build something. Go above your limits and you will grow. Use your skills to do well, use other people’s skills for making yours better. Share and receive wisdom, share and receive kindness, that’s all about being a volunteer!!
That was the road… to another me! A better ME!