Interview with Marcello Raspa, EVS volunteer in Serbia

Sombor educational center is the only organization from West-Bačka district of Serbia which is accredited for European voluntary service (EVS), program of European commission. In cooperation with Italian organization ScambiEuropei, SEC gave opportunity to Marcello Raspa to spend 9 months in Sombor as an EVS Volunteer. Over a month ago, Marcello came back to Italy and after this period of re-adaptation, we would like to hear something about his EVS experience. (Intervju na sprskom jeziku možete pročitati OVDE.)

 - For the start, we would like to know what exactly motivated you to apply for EVS volunteering and why in Serbia?

I always start my story from the Youth Exchange in Montenegro. Before that, I’ve never been on Balkans. Last picture that I had was the Ex Yugoslavia country on the map of my elementary school which was long time ago. Anyway, almost one year ago I went for 10 days in Ulcinj where I met people from the region, from a culture that was a new world for me and I was totally fascinated by that. In those days I had a pleasure to meettwo EVS volunteers who explained me what the project of European voluntary service was about, and I also met a group of Serbian people that were very kind with me (so much that they taught me Cyrillic!). As the Youth exchange finished, I wanted to come back as soon as possible to the other side of Adriatic so I found this opportunity for EVS in an NGO that works with children and young people. The path was signed. I applied immediately because – even though I’m chemical engineer – I had previous experiences working with kids for an association in my city and I love that.

 - Were your expectations fulfilled?

I didn’t have time to create expectations! It was so fast to change life from Italy to Sombor that I had only time to imagine a little bit what was all the big plan about. I knew that I will work with children and make activities so I imagined an environment similar the one I volunteered yet. Of course, I was totally wrong, and the reality was greater than the expectations.

 - You’ve been volunteering in SEC for 9 months. How did you like our work?

Work in SEC is a crazy thing. I once said in totally wrong Serbian: “Mnogo radi nije dobro s aglava” and I was almost right! But jokes apart, I said „crazy” because it is a lot. Lot of commitments, duties, projects etc. and more than once I saw people sitting there until night working on it. The only explanation is that those people put all themselves in this association in the goal of the improvement of the Serbian environment and not only including children and youth but also the others.

Working in SEC was great, because SEC works greater. And of course watching so passionate people doing their work in that way, it also motivates you a lot to give your best.

 - How did you like young people who are included in work of organization?

Included is reductive. I saw young people developing their own ideas and projects in the organization and not only from Sombor but from whole West-Bačka. I met almost everyone and I realized how is huge that circle of persons who revolve around SEC and everyone had something to share with me and also with the local community. How not to like these people?!

 - As an EVS volunteer, you organized workshops for children and youth and movie nights. You were also included in promoting EVS in local society and you participated in lots of actions and much more other activities. What did you like the most?

There are a lot of activities in the organization from education through trainings and workshops to some actions for leisure. But one of the projects that I really enjoyed was “Leto za mlade”, a program of many activities for youth but also for “less-young” people who was having a lot of fun as well. Those were the moments of harmony, commitments and creativity.

Sometimes I was also going with „the crew” to check projects of “Mladi su zakon” and I had opportunity to see really great actions became reality. It was honorable.

 - During your EVS in Sombor, you attended Serbian language classes. Can you share your impressions with us?

Oh, Serbian classes were a challenge but also a great time with a lot of laugh (especially for the teacher who I want to thank). As a student I was in the middle between a top student and a completely disaster. I’ve learned how to love padeži, and the importance of svršeni-nesvršeni-freakish verbs but I cannot deny that it is a language difficult to speak. I’ve learned the language at least to survive in Serbia and to express myself also with some slang sentences very useful to say hello to a friend or to demonstrate how ajvar is really good!

 - What did you like the most in Sombor?

First of all, the people! They know how to treat and welcome foreigners (and I’m not talking only about myself). I’ve totally jumped with whole myself in Serbian-Vojvodinian traditions and it was amazing!

Another thing is “the green” and if you still have a bike, you can go everywhere. The only thing that is missing in Sombor is the sea, but I know that long time ago there used to be also that.

- What are your plans for the future and do you maybe consider coming back in Serbia?

I left a piece of heart in Serbia and for sure I will come back. Also meeting again the SEC-family is always welcoming.

My plan for now is to find a job and since here in Italy is actually hard situation as in Serbia, this international experience that I had can be useful and help me to move somewhere else because I yet get acquainted to stay afar.

 - And in the end, what is your message for young people in Serbia who are thinking about volunteering in some of the European countries?

Dear Serbian friends, I strongly recommend you to have an experience like mine. It is not only the opportunity to know another place and other culture, but also the chance to improve yourself, your skills and your knowledge. You will come back to your country with a full baggage of memories, friends and feelings that will overwhelm you for a long time. That is something undeletable.

I will never stop thanking everyone who lived with me this chapter of my life and transformed this fantastic experience in something unique!

Vidimo se uskoro!


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