Michele Barbieri – pirmasis tarptautinis savanoris, kuris Gargždų atvirame jaunimo centre savanoriavo ir praleido metus laiko. Dalinamės Michele mintimis ir patyrimais GAJC. 🙂
My name is Michele Barbieri, i’m 20 years old and i come from a little town near Bergamo, in Italy.
I got my artistic high school graduation in July 2018 and since 17 i was dreaming about an experience abroad after the high school.
I spoke with my parents about that and they strongly suggested me to check the European Youth Portal website, where everyone can find volunteering projects all over Europe.
I started searching for projects that could match with me and my personality and after two weeks of constant research i found a 12 months volunteering project in Gargždai.
At the beginning my parents were a bit skeptical about Lithuania, but i insisted to apply for this project cause nobody ever mentioned Lithuania in my life, not even at school, and i was so curious about this little country that at the end i decided to discover it.
I perfectly remember how i felt when, opening the email, i read that i got accepted as a volunteer in Lithuania.
I couldn’t believe it at the beginning cause i was dreaming of it for so long that when it happened it seemed unreal, but when i realised it i just ran towards my parents and i shouted the news outloud.
I actually couldn’t stay quiet that day, so after hugging my parents i wrote to all my friends and relatives about that.
Finally, on October 15, i took the plane and i reached Vilnius. I remember that my first thought straight after getting out from the airport was „Oh my God, the air here is so clean, i still can’t believe i just landed in Lietuva!“, cause in the Northern Italy there’s a lot of pollution, and in my little Cividate al Piano too.
The next day i officially started my volunteering project in Gargždu Atviras Jaunimo Centras and i met all my colleagues, what a team!
We created a good collective friendship since the beginning and i’m so happy about that.
I remember the first period wasn’t really easy cause everything around me was new and i still had to adapt, but i can say that after a week, thanks to my colleagues and to the atmoshpere in the center, i started feeling great.
In November i took part in the on-arrival training, a great 4 days experience in which i met new volunteers and i discovered more about the European Voluntary Service.
In December, after organising a free photoshoot with the Christmas theme in the Youth Center i flew back to Italy for some holidays with my family and then i decided to come back to Lithuania by car.
I was driving under the snow through half Europe for three days, before reaching Gargždai: it was such a crazy adventure, but unfortunately i was alone for the all way.
The weather in Lithuania was really cold in January, but at the same time i had fun because of that: when i was meeting my friends we were throwing snowballs at each other and diving in the snow, luckily i survived to the winter without getting ill.
In January the center was full of youngsters everyday and mostly on the 25th, the day of my birthday.
Everyone prepared a little letter for me, with wishes and other personal things: that made me super happy, i’ll never forget the emotions they made me feel.
At the end of the winter i started travelling with other volunteers during the weekends: we’ve been to Latvija, Estonia, Norway and Germany and those were all wonderful experiences.
I’m so glad that i found such great friends in here and i hope not to lose any friendship later in the time.
In the center, when the weather started getting better we organised a lot of activities outside including a basketball tournament that i had the opportunity to plan from the beginning, and the result was just incredible: we had so much fun playing with other three Youth Centers.
Later on i participated in the mid-term training, that was based on the model of the on-arrival but with different people and purpose. I’m so happy that those trainings exist because they are amazing opportunities to meet people and to live unforgettable moments.
With the beginning of the summer i started participating in different summer camps and i loved it, cause i was meeting new youngsters and doing new things.
The lithuanian summer was great! i got my mother, my father and a friend here visiting me and we had such a good time together.
My parents were completely impressed by this Country and my father who’s a photographer like me, was amazed by the landscapes that Lithuania offers.
Talking about photography i must say that on August 5 my first exhibition called „Soul’s Looks“ took place in my beloved Gargždai, exactly in Ruta Cafe and in the Elderly Center.
I can’t even describe how happy and how proud i was when it happened, it was a huge opportunity for me to grow as a photographer and i’m so grateful to all the people involved in this project because without them it won’t have been possible.
Now my EVS experience is almost over and at the end i’m realising how many things i learned, how much i grew up personally, how my mind changed in a better way and how many memories i’ll always bring in my heart.
This year just changed my life in a positive way and i will never be able to thank enough who made this experience as beautiful as it is, who always believed in me and supported me.
If i could have the opportunity i would repeat this experience again, but unfortunately my time to study has come and my dear Italy is waiting for me.
I’m so proud and i can’t wait to show everyone who i became after this year and to tell all the stories i’ve got, because i think my friends and relatives will be impressed and happy for me.
I will never forget anything about this special year and i’ll bring this huge pack of experiences with me keeping it like if it’s a treasure, because at the end, it is a treasure.
So thanks to everyone, from my colleagues to the youngsters of our center, from my foreign friends to my lithuanian friends, from Gargždai to all Lithuania.
You will always be part of my life and You will always have a place in my heart.