21 October 2021

A year of growth and endless memories - [ES-401] Construcción de paz a través de la participación juvenil, 01.10.2020-01.10.2021, Catalunya, Spain


As a huge fan of Erasmus+ projects I have participated in both short- and long-term projects during the past few years but nothing can be compared with the growth I have experienced during my ESC project with SCI Catalunya. Throughout this last year I had the chance to offer support to new volunteers, to participate in training courses, to coordinate entire projects and to experiment with different aspects of social education and activism - all of this while living in Barcelona.

Finishing my Bachelor studies in Education and Formation my passion for non-formal education was fueled by every new Erasmus training, volunteering project or informational event that I participated in and my goal of becoming a social educator was slowly coming true. I went into this ESC project with certain intentions while also leaving space for spontaneity and surprises. My main goals were to improve my Spanish, to learn more about the work inside of an NGO and to improve my skills as a project facilitator. Little did I know that I would end up creating the content for 2 projects from scratch (one on the topic of sustainability and one on the topic of fighting the LGBTQIA+phobia) and coordinating the whole process of these projects, starting with the application form for the participants and ending with the evaluation of the outcome and dissemination of the entire project.

This year meant both personal and professional growth for me. I travelled, I improved my language skills and I discovered work areas that I had no idea I would be so passionate about. Needless to say, it was one of the best years of my life.

 I became addicted to stepping out of my comfort zone when I saw how much it can challenge and change me. I became more aware of my thought process, my boundaries and my coping mechanisms and I can’t express enough how much of a difference this made in all areas of my life. The best part of all of this is that little by little, while changing yourself, you are changing the world around you.

No matter what your project is about or where you work, if you pay attention to your co-workers, your friends or the people you’re sharing a project with, you will see the spark in their eyes. Maybe you won’t necessarily see the
moment they change but you will see the moment they start questioning something they used to take as a default and you’ll notice how they’ll go like ‘oh, why is this like this? And why am I following it?’. And that right there, that is the best thing that you can ever witness if you ask me and that is what volunteering is doing to you. After that, it all perpetuates like a domino game because once you start questioning things you used to take for granted,
there’s no going back.

I would advise and strongly encourage every single person to go through this experience. Although the more obvious parts of a project attract you in the beginning, which are the travelling, the intercultural experience and the knowledge gain, I can assure you that nothing will compare with what you will feel on a deeper personal level. Don’t get me wrong, travelling and working in an international environment are amazingly enriching experiences but the subtle growth, the one that can’t be immediately seen from the outside but which you feel changing inside, that’s what makes the experience what it is.

Cristina Debu