Meet our new European Solidarity Corps volunteers

This year we welcomed, for the first time, two volunteers who came as a part of the European Solidarity Corps programme. This programme aims to help young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to have the opportunity to volunteer within and outside their own countries, at no cost.  Young people have the unique opportunity to help different communities in need across the European Union. The projects provide an inspiring and stimulating experience and give volunteers the chance to promote change while developing their own abilities and skills. 

Our two volunteers at Serve the City this year will have different roles. Aguineth, 28, from Lisbon, Portugal, will be working in the communications and social media team while Lorenzo will be in the team handling logistics and volunteering projects. He’s 27 and originally from Ferrara, in north-east Italy. They answered a few questions to shed some light on how they felt when this adventure began.  

How did you hear about the European Solidarity Corps? 

Lorenzo: I discovered the European Solidarity Corps thanks to an Instagram page about opportunities for young people abroad, and then I read their website. I hadn’t heard of them before, but it was amazing to discover how many opportunities there are for young people in Europe. 

Aguineth: My short-term Erasmus programme and my BA in Anthropology opened my eyes to the transformative power of intercultural experiences. During that time, I met people who had embarked on this journey with the European Solidarity Corps the year before. Their lively testimonies of cultural submersion in Italy and Spain and the skills they had acquired sparked my curiosity.  I was eager to widen my horizons and cultivate new skills, I felt drawn to this volunteering program. The prospect of diving into a new environment, collaborating with different people and contributing to positive change perfectly matches my future aspirations. I could see myself developing my communication skills while gaining a deeper understanding of a new country. 

Was it easy to apply for the volunteer work you’re doing now? What inspired you to volunteer? 

Lorenzo: Yes, applying for this opportunity was easy, the website was very clear and the organization’s explanation of my responsibilities and tasks was also very clear. I made the decision to apply because I was looking for an opportunity in Belgium, because I had been to Brussels a few times and fell in love with this city, which I think is so full of opportunities for young professionals and could perhaps be a springboard for a possible career in the future. Also, the idea of working and helping people at the same time was a key reason why I applied for this opportunity. 

Aguineth: The application process for European Solidarity Corps (ESC) projects can vary depending on the host organization. Some applications, such as the Serve the City project, can be quick. In my case, I applied, then had a Zoom call within a few days and I received a positive response shortly afterwards. For several years, I’ve been attracted to volunteer programs that make a real difference to people’s lives. Affordability was also an important factor. CES programs are perfect because they are affordable.   

How have your first few months in Brussels been? 

Lorenzo: My first days in the city were a little busy and full of new emotions, but I am adapting well in this environment, I feel excited to be here and to contribute actively to society. Also, this multicultural environment is very stimulating, so I feel comfortable and enjoy going to work, meeting new people every day and discovering new projects to which I can contribute. 

Aguineth: Brussels has been a whirlwind! While finding an apartment took a month of five exhausting moves, working for Serve the City’s great environment offered a welcome break. We tackle projects that make a tangible difference, and I’ve helped a few people across various initiatives. This first-time experience on the communications team has been a great learning curve, too. Brussels’ beauty truly surprised me.  


What skills do you hope to learn during this period? 

Lorenzo:  During this period, I hope to improve my communication skills, especially in person, so improve my English level and maybe learn French. In addition, I hope to learn more about how an NGO works by following the project manager and all the co-workers on a day-to-day basis. I would like to learn how to follow the organization of events such as team building and maybe lead them and learn about logistics and the management of orders and materials. I hope to improve my teamwork ability but also my autonomy doing some tasks autonomously. 

Aguineth: As someone with a degree in anthropology aspiring to work in an NGO, I am eager to gain a comprehensive understanding of how NGOs operate. Additionally, I aim to enhance my skills in communication and social media management. I seek to develop a deeper empathy for people in diverse situations, widening my perspective and compassion. In linguistic terms, I’d also like to improve my spoken and written English and learn French, to a level where I can communicate with others and perhaps get different opportunities . 

 Lastly, I want to improve my social interaction skills, as I am naturally shy and often find it challenging to navigate in social spaces. 

In the coming months we will be writing two more articles about Aguineth and Lorenzo, one to see how things are going six months into the volunteering programme, and one next year to see how the whole experience has gone. 

© Claudio Caputo

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