Embarking on the journey of a European Solidarity Corps volunteering project was a decision that would forever shape my life. From the moment I arrived, I knew this experience would be something special. In this article, I would like to share my incredible journey, starting from my initial fears and uncertainties to the tremendous personal growth and fulfillment I achieved.
Overcoming Initial Apprehensions:
When I first arrived, I was filled with trepidation. I worried about navigating unfamiliar streets, finding essential services like pharmacies, bus stops, and train stations. However, thanks to the project’s adaptability to my needs, I quickly received assistance in acclimating to my new surroundings. In no time, I became familiar with the daily routes to my workplace, discovered nearby bus stops, and identified convenient amenities such as pharmacies, night shops, and grocery stores.
Guidance and Support:
Throughout the project, I was accompanied by a mobility instructor who offered unwavering support. Her kindness and willingness to assist me with any concerns or questions were truly remarkable. Our mobility sessions were not limited to initial orientation; I continued to seek her guidance to explore new places, such as the gym or the physiotherapy center. Her guidance played a significant role in my ability to become independent and navigate my surroundings with confidence.
Mastering a New Language:
Having a base in French before arriving in Belgium, I thought I was well-prepared. However, I soon realized that effectively speaking the language required dedicated effort. The locals in Liège predominantly spoke French, and I had to immerse myself in the language from day one. This was essential not only for everyday interactions but also for my work. I am proud of my progress as I can now engage in lengthy conversations on various topics. From my first phrase, “ excusez-moi, c’est quoi le numéro du bus? » to present-day fluency, it has been a rewarding linguistic journey.
Embracing Inclusion and Building Connections:
The warmth and acceptance I received from my colleagues and students were heartwarming. From the very beginning, they made me feel like an integral part of their community. Working with both the adult group at Baraka, where I was employed, and the teenage group was an enriching experience. Although my efforts to connect with the adolescents did not yield the same results, I cherished every moment. Wearing the hats of a teacher and an animator allowed me to explore new methods of evaluating students during exams and organizing engaging activities that went beyond raising awareness about blindness.
A New Home, a New Chapter:
Belgium, with its captivating charm, has captured my heart. The friendly atmosphere and the genuine kindness of its people made me feel more supported than ever before. In fact, I made the life-changing decision to permanently relocate to Brussels at the end of April. Despite the chaotic last two months of apartment hunting and moving, I am incredibly satisfied with my choices. Thanks to this project, I am not only in Brussels, but I am also happy, and I have a renewed sense of purpose.
My European Solidarity Corps journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. It has allowed me to overcome my fears, expand my horizons, and discover the true meaning of inclusion. I fell in love with Belgium, embraced the French language, and found joy in the kindness and support of others. This project has not only shaped my present but also given me direction for my future. As I reflect on this life-changing experience, I am grateful for the opportunity and excited for the new adventures that lie ahead.