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A life changing EVS experience

© Riccardo Sunda
That kind of experience which happens once in a lifetime and leaves many questions behind. Who I am after this experience? What does remain? What have I learned so far? Do I feel changed?

I’m Riccardo, a 28 year old boy who comes from a beautiful island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia. I find myself really close to the end of an amazing experience, that kind of experience which happens once in a life time. I’m talking about the EVS program, which basically consists on spending a given period of time outside of your country.

I’ve spent 12 months in a non-governmental organization called Carpe Diem. This organization is located in a lovely town called Karlovac, Croatia, not far away from the capital city, Zagreb.

Let me tell you a story, a story which starts during an ordinary day in my town, Cagliari, Sardinia. It was summer 2010, at that time I was employed as a warehouseman in a wholesale in Cagliari. Given that it was a nice day towards the end of July, I went to the beach to hang out a bit with some friends, when at a certain point an acquaintance showed up with his friends from five different countries. They started to talk in English, who knows what they were talking about for about two hours, actually I didn’t understand a single word in English.

Throughout their speech I began thinking about my own life, a life made up of an ordinary job in a small island which every so often I perceive like a prison, my golden prison.

After three years the unexpected happened: I had lost my job after almost seven years, due to the crisis which was tearing apart several companies in Sardinia. It was a rainy 15th March 2015 and a day that is supposed to be remembered as one of the worse days of my life, would have turned out as one of the best, because it was the beginning of a new life. 

First of all, I came back to high-school: actually I had no diploma and I left school when I was 18 during the fourth class, in order to get that job as a warehouseman, However I stroke a deal with myself, that is to say, if one day I’ll lose my job I’ll come back to get my diploma. So I spent two years working and studying, and I got my diploma as a building surveyor eventually.

It’s summer 2015, and after one week celebrating that great outcome, it was time to think about my future, an uncertain future, because I had no idea of exactly what to do. 

Call it fate, call it coincidence, one evening, a friend of mine called me to play football in Cagliari, where I met two boys from a NGO called TDM 2000, who proposed to me to take part in a youth exchange in Latvia, the topic was youth unemployment. I was really scared, considering my slight aptitude over foreign languages, and yet, I had a strong desire to get out from my own environment, I packed my stuff and went to Riga. Right throughout that week in Latvia I heard about the EVS program for the first time.

It was September, and through my sending organization TDM 2000 I applied for a place as a volunteer in Carpe Diem. I still remember my first skype call with my boss Alex, I was at seaside, more than one hour away from my town when I received an email from her asking me whether I was available or not for an interview that evening, so that I drove faster than the speed of light to get home and attending that skype call.

The outcome was positive, I bundled up my stuff, said goodbye to my family, my friends, my band mates and got the first flight to Zagreb.

I would say that the first three months weren’t easy but I rose stronger and stronger and step by step I found my place in the organization.

I soaked up the Croatian habits, l learned how to appreciate a long conversation with a friend inside those fancy bars in front of an endless cup of coffee, a common and magic ritual here in Croatia, which you could understand living here after a while only.

I travelled a lot through the Balkans, met so many people who somehow marked the deepest part of my soul, and I’m gonna carry with me their memories and priceless advices for the rest of my life.

Who I am after this experience? What does remain? What have I learned so far? Do I feel changed?

Perhaps it’s too early to answer, I’ll be able to do that after a while I guess.

I feel I am the same boy who left his little island one year ago, with his questions, concerns and fears, and yet at the same time I feel more self-confident, stronger and slightly more optimistic about my own future, because I believe that our staple as human beings doesn’t change, but it can be enhanced through our life experiences, and the EVS program can definitely give you the facilities and the weapons to face and look ahead, it’s worth it, trust me.

Riccardo Sunda


Published: Mon, 26/09/2016 - 12:46

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