Maite and her decision to "stay" at the Centre Pinocchio

The EVS project "EU Volunteers to learn" is almost at the end of its 2 years of implementation. Asociatia Lumea lui Pinocchio, coordinating and hosting organization, had the pleasure to host and meet volunteers from Spain, Austria and Germany. One of them, Maria Teresa Vidal Bernad (Spain), spent the period October 2017 - May 2018 at the Centre Pinocchio...here you are her witness about this enriching experience!

"I would like to explain in words the experience that I'm living in a small town called Panciu in the east side of Romania. But... writing all the things that are happening around me it's becoming very complicated, more than you could imagine.

I decided to take a year off of my work as a kindergarden teacher in Spain. I found several projects as an EVS volunteer around Europe, but this project called "EU volunteers to learn" with the Asociatia Lumea lui Pinocchio caught my attention. Volunteers to learn... this was what I wanted: learning and sharing experiences and knowledges with other people, open myself to what was waiting for me. My main wish, though, was to help the others in the way that they needed me, especially the kids and especially giving them a lot of love, comprenhension, friendship and somebody to stay with them. Because I have a lot of love to give to them and I have realised that the kids need love and their natural instinct is to hug you and stay with you.

Nowadays I can say that to win their friendship it has been a little bit hard, just a little ;-) At the very beginning, the language was a huge barrier between us; after we used the google translator and now we can comunicate quite well with the language. But one incredible thing is that sometimes now only looking at the eyes of the kid could guess what they need or want and that happes because after 6 months here our level of confidence has increased a lot and I feel proud of it.

I really like walking on the streets of Panciu and see some of our kids, that at the beginning didn't came to me, now running to me or me running to them to hug and talk or give some sweets or biscuits, that I always have in my bag just in case I meet somebody. Sometimes they invite me to go with them to play to the football pitch or sometimes we only have a walk around Panciu or go to the park. I really like going with them in their daily life. These moments make me feel special and these moments are unique.

For me, my aim are the kids and making their life a little bit better in the way that is possible. But being a volunteer means more. Being a volunteer means learning to listen the others, respect and accept their ways of doing the things and understanding that the life is not as difficult and complicated as we think. Life is easy and beautiful. Here I have learnt to enjoy the small things that are happening around me like the changes of the colors of the leaves in autumn - green, yellow, brown, orange and red -, a perfect snowflake in my jacket in the coldest day of the year in the morning going to give the "mic dejun" (breakfast) to the kids. The beginning of the spring with sun and smiles and games outside, the opportunity of making a typical pastry from my region for Easter with the kids, saying Good Morning everyday to people that you don't know but every morning we see each other in the same place, or going for a walk and realising that a lonely dog is following you and taking care of you for the whole afternoon.... And more and more experiences that I'll keep in my heart for the rest of my life.

This experience has changed my life forever in a very positive way, my family and friends are waiting for me with open arms, but I still have a little bit of time to spend here with the kids. I'm really happy that I could spend all these months here, with a lot of people that I have met on my way and a lot of experiences that showed me that with love everything is possible. And that every difficulty that I have faced made me stronger.

So...I can only thank all the people that made this possible."

Maite Vidal Bernad

The project "EU Volunteers to learn" (ref. nr. 2016-1-RO01-KA105-024178) is financed by the European programme ERASMUS+, and sees the collaboration of Asociatia Lumea lui Pinocchio with its Spainish partner COCAT.