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Manon’s ESC at Tzama school (France) - The impact of the Covid-19 situation on my project

I feel extremely lucky to be part of this ESC project as it allows me to work full-time, in person, and without too many constraints compared to other projects. The school has been opened since my arrival in September despite the various restrictions. It has just closed for a week this month (April 2021). We had to be creative to offer online activities to the children and we had a lot of fun making videos with the two other volunteers! At school, we obviously respect the basic hygiene practices and we always wear a mask, but apart from that, we are lucky enough to be able to organize most of the activities with the children. Of course, we would love to organize larger events and activities with the parents or with external people, but this is impossible. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the children are already used to the situation of seeing adults wearing masks, wearing a mask themselves (for the ones over 6 years old), respecting the social distances when it is possible, not sharing food, washing their hands often, etc. It is sometimes difficult to talk to them about the virus as it seems very abstract or even scary, but I think they are already well adapted to this new lifestyle.

With the team, we mostly do zoom meetings even if we also try to have some in person when it is possible. We had the opportunity to participate to team-building activities at the beginning of my project (restaurants, escape game, …) but unfortunately, such events have not been feasible for months now.

At home, I am happy to have three housemates so I do not feel too lonely during my free time. We spend a lot of time together cooking, watching movies, practicing yoga and meditation, painting or drawing, having walks in the forest or in the natural reserve next to our place… Each of us tries to have his/her own activities, but we are mostly together at home or around. When we can, we like to take our bikes or the train to visit some places such as Colmar, Basel, the Vosges, but it is obviously not as fun as it would be if the bars, restaurants and cultural places were opened. Even though I cannot travel as much as I would like to, I am still happy with what I have already been able to visit a bit of the region.

Manon with her house mates on a snowy background

One of my biggest disappointments is that because of all the restrictions, I did not have the chance to meet many people and especially youth outside of the school. I met the few other European volunteers in Mulhouse, but it is way harder to join events and activities where I could meet other people my age. I miss this part of the project as well as the opportunity to have the two seminars where I could have spent a great time with volunteers from different countries. The online seminars were very well organized but clearly less interesting and interactive than face to face meetings.

Manon with other people are planting in the garden

In general, although all the negative consequences of this situation, I firmly believe it allows us to focus on the most important things, to enjoy and to make the most of every moment, to be more easily satisfied, and to focus on ourselves. I do not regret any self-care and simple moments at home by myself or with my housemates. As everybody, I hope that we will soon be able to travel, go to the restaurant, go out with our friends, and stop worrying about the virus. I am so happy to be part of this amazing project and team as the atmosphere is always positive despite of all of the annoying things!

Manon on the bike followed by other bykers in the forest.png
Manon with other people are planting in the garden.png
Manon with other volunteers are walking in the snow in the mountaines.png