Reflecting on my journey with the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), I feel nothing but grateful. While my experience was overwhelmingly positive, I have learned that even those with a spectrum of experiences find value in their ESC journey. There is an undeniable silver lining: the thrill of exploring new countries, forging lasting friendships, participating in collaborative projects, creating cherished memories, or simply reveling in the joy of travel. If given a chance, I would dive into this experience again, albeit with some extra pocket change.
Hi, I’m Hanna. Often, I am posed with the question, “Why Croatia?” While the tempting warm weather and abundant sun, given my Eastern European origins from a sun-scarce nation, often take precedence, the real draw was the ‘Joyful Volunteering’ project. I recall my interview with my supervisors. They elaborated on their initiatives and highlighted ‘Joyful Leadership,’ the project they envisioned for me. Intriguingly, they also touched upon another entrepreneurship-centric project. They allowed me to dive into its many facets, from strategic planning to marketing. My response? A zealous, “Absolutely, please involve me as much as you believe I can manage.” True to their word, OAZA immersed me in many activities, ensuring a rich volunteering experience.
While my primary role surrounded the Joyful Leadership initiative and an international training we undertook the previous year, I found greater satisfaction in orchestrating and overseeing these events than just being a mere participant. This project allowed me to wear two hats – that of a participant and an administrator, offering me a holistic view of our operations and invaluable insights. I also got the chance to contribute to diverse events, including workshops at the Joyful Place. My journey with OAZA also saw me aiding the launch of the OAZA Academy and an online course. My background in social media and communication came in handy, and I remain ever-intrigued by the constant learning this domain offers.
My time also allowed me to collaborate on short-term volunteering projects and connect with every team member. These interactions enriched my journey, offering diverse viewpoints and invaluable insights. Moreover, my volunteer journey was punctuated with two Erasmus exchanges abroad and two international trainings. Though optional, these experiences became cornerstone events, offering unparalleled insights into youth work, a domain I have been passionate about for over half a decade.
To wrap up, when I am asked to advise the youth, the iconic Nike phrase, “Just do it,” resonated with me. The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) offers a transformative journey, especially for those keen on cross-cultural growth. I have noticed the youth from partner nations are often more informed about the ESC than local youngsters. So, spread the word, especially to remote areas. Let’s democratize access to these incredible opportunities.