My name is Alessia Giorio, I am 22 years old and I went to Poland for a 6 weeks volunteering project. I was in the region of Pomerania (near Gdańsk) from the end of January 2017 to mid-March 2017.
My project was called "World Talks"; I was in charge of delivering workshops about Italian culture to Polish students from 14 to 19 years old. This project was organized in 3 cities of the region and I had the opportunity to visit different schools.
I felt it was worth it.
I really like practical activities, I think they are the the best way to learn something.
Back in September 2016 I was starting my third year of University. I started to think about what to do next after the graduation and I realized that actually all the experiences I had collected until that time were only about studying and all my achievements were related to my student life.
I was looking for a completely different experience from what I could have found inside the university. I wanted to feel useful, valued and challenged. I wanted to leave my comfort zone by living alone in another country for the first time in my life, I wanted to feel the responsibility of something bigger than me. I wanted to develop myself by doing something I’ve never done before. Those are all the reasons that pushed me to click the "apply" button to one of Aiesec’s projects.
Poland was so unpredictable.
I was in Poland while it was very cold, in the middle of winter, some days the external temperature was -10 C° and I have never lived with this temperature. But jokes aside, this is not something that I was not expecting.
I had the opportunity to experience the Polish culture at 360°, I was hosted by Polish families, I was giving lessons inside Polish schools, I was mainly talking with Polish students. I was really impressed about the openness of the people and of the students I have met. They were really curious about my life, about Italy and this was the most amazing part. I was not expecting so much excitement for my lessons. I didn’t have any idea of their knowledge about Italian culture and I discovered that they knew many things.
The moment I felt I made the difference.
I have very clear in my mind one moment: there was one class in which students were shy and it was very difficult to engage with them in the lessons. After the second lesson with them I was a bit frustrated but I decided not to give up. I was trying to figure out how to change the delivery method of my lesson. I came up with a new idea. I decided to do a history of art lesson but not with showing them just pictures of Italian painters. I created an activity based on the Monnalisa story (from when it was created, then stolen and when it was brought back in Paris). They had some pieces of paper with some sentences. The activity was about putting the sentences in a order in a way to create a logical story. If they had put in the right order the pieces of paper and then turned them back, they would have seen the picture of Monnalisa. The first time I did this activity I was very excited to see what their reaction would have been. They were amazed and they were really into the explanation of the story when I was explaining it. I felt like I was making the difference because I could have explained in a flat way the story of Monnalisa, or I could have just put the pictures on a presentation and showed to them. Instead I decided to change my lesson with a completely different activitiy and it worked. For sure many students will remember this activity.
My personal growth path.
I was responsible for delivering lessons each day for 6 weeks of my life. It was not easy at all, I changed my role in 2 days, from being a university student to being a teacher in another country. I tried what it means to be on the other side of the desk.
I really believe in education and delivering lessons for 20 young students of another country I think is an amazing opportunity to challenge yourself and put yourself in a challenging environments.
By doing something for the first time I rediscovered myself, I got to know better what my limits are and what I am good at. I discovered new things that I like and defined better what I do not like. I have developed my communication skills by delivering lessons and cross cultural communication skills just by talking with other volunteers coming from all around the world.
I was very close to some professors and they were giving me tips on how to be a better teacher but they were considering me as a teacher, that is why I felt very empowered by this experience.
Aiesec gives you the possibility to live a volunteering experience in more than 120 countries, like Brazil, Romania, Colombia, Poland, Serbia, Russia, Greece and India. Many opportunities are waiting for young people between 18 and 30 years old, to make them discover their full potential and change the world.
Look for a project for you on aiesec.org