A few months ago I wrote an article, ‘When in doubt travel’ where I shared some of my thoughts regarding the ESC experience I was having in Cyprus. (For those who don’t know, the ESC acronym stands for European Solidarity Corps, a programme funded by the European Union, and eligible for people between 18 and 30 years old. More information can be found here [https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en]). At that time I was four months enrolled into the programme and was having a fabulous time with my colleagues. Now, the programme, sadly came to an end, the emotions and the excitement have settled in, and I was able to reflect in more depth upon my experience. I spent almost one year in Cyprus surrounded by six beautiful people from all over the world. Together, we created our own little world, filled with experiences, memories, and many many smiles. This is one of the main aspects of an ESC experience, although, you leave behind your family and friends, a new one awaits just around the corner. The past year has been filled with many joyous moments, and most of the times I felt that through my work I was making a difference. Of course, as with any experience there were times when I felt that more can be done, or things can be done differently, however, these feelings were part of the learning process, and learning to deal with them enabled me to have such a beautiful experience. I was fortunate enough to meet a group of like minded people, with whom I was able to explore the island, engage with the local communities, and enhance my skills while reflecting upon my future plans. Under no circumstances an ESC experience is a prolonged cultural visit, but a process through which one can gain new skills, learn, enhance their employability chances, and build their international profile as well as their network of friends. Rarely one can have a work experience which is actually a bundle of experiences that encompasses many fields. In only one year I was able to gain an insight into event planning and organising, social and humanitarian work, as well cultural and social research. Because these experiences were so strong, raw, and happened so fast, I was not able to realise the amount of information I was absorbing until a few good weeks after I finished the project and sat down for some reflection. Luckily, you won’t be allowed to overlook or forget any of the skills you gained or what you have learned, because the ESC projects recognise the work of their volunteers through the Youth Pass certificate everyone receives at the end of the project. The most brilliant part of it, is that the volunteers get to write it themselves, making sure that every achievement is properly highlighted in their personal certificate. Through this it is ensured that the professional aspects of any experience are the core of it. The other half of the experience is built by the personal engagements, because, aside from a valuable experience and a certificate, you will be taking with you life-lasting friendships. When I started this project in the spring of 2019, I was expecting a multi-cultural and diverse journey, but I never expected to feel such a fulfillment and gratitude at the end of it. I was extremely fortunate to meet people from many different backgrounds, built a friendship with them, and have them share their knowledge with me. To best conclude this experience I will insert a fragment of the conversation I had my friend only a few days ago about our ESC.
”Now that is finished, we need some form of therapy to help us cope with being back to normal’.