EVS project is something that changes your life.
It can be beautiful, interesting, exciting; it can be heavy, boring, complicated.
There may be joys and pitfalls, happy moments and difficult moments.
But one thing is certain: EVS is something incredibly educational.
EVS will forge the personality and above all it will allow you to understand who you really are.
Personally, my EVS was WONDERFUL!
I met great people from all over the world, I’ve learned to share many laughs but also some tears; I learned to live with boys and girls from very different countries, who have taught me so much and to which I hope I have taught something; I learned about a new and fascinating country like Russia, its culture, its people.
I improved a complex language as Russian, perhaps my most difficult personal challenge so far: every day was a swing continues between the curse for the choice of the language and the belief that sooner or later I would have made to learn it decently.
And now, after six months, I can only be satisfied with the results.
There is still a lot of work to do, but I can continue with more enthusiasm and desire to improve the language.
Living in a foreign country means learning its customs and traditions; especially, living in Russia means to learn how to see things from another point of view.
It means to live six months a year below 0 degrees; it means to learn how to see the world around you perpetually white for months; it means to meet the hospitality of people who maybe has a little, but the little that has got gives it to you.
And this is the most beautiful aspect of EVS: the people.
To share, to love yourself and the others, to overcome the difficulties together and help each other.
Staying away from home for so long makes you almost morbidly tie to those people with whom you share your days and who, like you, are looking for new friends, new feelings, new emotions and new ideas.
As for me, I was lucky and I found the best I could look for: I found a real family.
I created a wonderful relationship with my roommates; I met dozens of interesting people who have given something more to my experience; I found a girl who taught me a lot and who was able to make me happy.
But during my EVS I not only received much: I think that I also gave something back.
Above all, I believe that I managed to do something good for the others.
Working in a kindergarten with children with syndromes, mental retardation, developmental disabilities or speech disorders was not something particularly new for me since I graduated in Speech therapy, so I was used to be surrounded by kids.
But working in a Russian kindergarten, with Russian children, with Russian teachers … this has been indeed an experience.
To learn a different mentality, a different way of maintaining order and discipline and to see a different way of showing love and affection were all extremely challenging aspects.
Education is the mirror of the culture of a people, so I can say that I really learned a lot about Russian culture.
“My” teachers, initially maybe a little bit cold and with behaviors difficult to decipher, have turned out to be very helpful and especially grateful for the hand I gave them during all those months.
I was involved in the school plays, I was filled with gifts and teachers were always very attentive to my needs.
As Irina, the responsible of the kindergarten, always did. She helped me so much, saying always nice words for me and appreciating my work constantly.
And then there were them … “My” children. Indeed … I tell MY children without the quotation marks, because those children after a few weeks have become truly MINE.
There were Vitya and Valera, a couple of beautiful and smart twins.
There was Alina, an anarchist girl with Down syndrome who was used to spend her days laughing, crying, laughing, crying, giving me kisses, jumping, running, laughing, giving me other kisses, running away again.
There was Vova, also with Down syndrome: he could only repeat his name but his eyes spoke for him.
There were Vanya and Aliosha, always together and always willing to help the other kids with bigger disabilities.
There were Sonya and Ira, that despite of their big motor impairment have taught me that the most beautiful movement in the world is one and one only: to smile.
There was Ilya: he never stayed quiet and he teased everyone. But he just needed some attentions: to see him constantly looking for a hug or a caress or even just my approval gave me incredible happiness every time.
There were Masha and Maxim, in constant struggle with their autism: a look or a smile was enough to make me forget the hours spent in vain recalling their attention.
There was Nastya, who had never interacted with anyone until a few months before: each new discovery, even the smallest one, seemed like opening to her eyes a new world.
There were Vika and Sofia, with their strange but funny questions.
Of course, not every morning was always so memorable: sometimes I was a bit too tired, sometimes I was a little bit thoughtful, sometimes just a little bit confused for not being able to understand everything that was going on around me, sometimes I was a little bit exhausted from all that chasing behind MY children.
But their affection repaid me for all the efforts and not to see them anymore, running towards to me every morning when I arrived to the kindergarten, is something that I will miss.
But my EVS hasn’t been only that: it has been definitely much more!
It has been also the course of Italian language organized with other volunteers for the locals.
It has been the Russian lessons with Nastya, my teacher.
It has been the Sundays on the snow, the nights spent in the clubs, the house parties.
It has been the life in a beautiful and interesting city such as Nizhny Novgorod, discovering with friends the place all around without ever getting bored.
It has been the multicultural events organized by SFERA, my host organization.
My EVS has been, above all, to find fabulous people like Michela, Eva, Tanya, Pasha, Marta, Rustam, Dasha, Sasha and many others. People with whom I shared for months my daily life and that I will never forget.
My EVS has been to throw out all my inner resources and energies that I did not even believe to have.
It has been my training in Rostov, along with other volunteers from all parts of Russia.
My EVS has been to see Moscow, admire the beautiful Kazan, visit St. Petersburg.
These and many other things have been my EVS. And all of them made it to be one of the best period in my life.
The only thing I can say is that I definitely feel lucky to have had the opportunity to live such a great experience. It has changed me as a person and it has opened my cultural horizons and my mind.
We only live once and challenges like these are experiences that most of all make us feel alive.
Thank you all!
Mattia Rizzi, Италия