Hello, I am Daniele, I am 22 years old, and at the end of July 2022, I will end my 12-month ESC experience. Even though it will be difficult to enclose all the strong emotions and experiences of the previous year in a few paragraphs, I decided to divide my letter into 3 parts, concerning the 3 most symbolic words that resume the 3 most important things I found during my experience here.
This word represents to me something that I have never seriously done before, it represents traveling. Before coming to Bulgaria I have never traveled and discovered so many places, but here I finally had the opportunity to do it, and I grabbed it. I have explored Bulgaria in all its beauty, visiting all the main cities like Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Veliko Tarnovo, visiting typical villages and towns to see what Bulgaria looks like outside the biggest tourist destinations, and exploring Bulgarian nature, with its mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and caves that are extended all over the country.
Every city, village, or natural landscape I visited, built something in me, something I cannot explain, a fire, a passion for exploration that I have never felt before. I understand that, even if only for one year, I have understood a lot of the country, its people, its culture, and its history, but as for every other thing, the more I explored, the more I realized how much I have not seen, and understood of the country. I often think about the famous phrase of Socrate, that fits perfectly my thoughts: “I know that I don’t know”. Because, in fact, I recognize my ignorance about the country, even after one year, but it is that awareness of not knowing enough that fueled my passion for exploration, my total desire of discovering this beautiful country that gave me so much. What is even more incredible is that, apart from Bulgaria, I had the chance to visit many other cities and places in other countries, like Istanbul in Turkey, Bucharest in Romania, Thessaloniki in Greece, Skopje, and Ohrid in North Macedonia, then Novo Mesto in Slovenia, Zagreb in Croatia, Larnaca Nicosia, and Athienou in Cyprus. All those places made me feel even more the profound need of discovering the vast world around me, and how much I do not know yet even about countries that seem so close and so similar to mine, but all of them have something different to offer, new places, stories, people, and emotions, and thanks to this 12-month ESC project in Bulgaria, I am now ready to see them all.
This word represents a lot to me. I am sure that, without all the amazing people I have known here, my experience would not have been the same. First of all, in Association EuniPartners I found a safe place to express myself, and share positive emotions we the other members of the organization. Positiveness and will of learning new things have been at the order of the day here. My supervisor, to whom I owe a lot, helped me and the other volunteers to grow not only professionally, but even personally, constantly treated us like equally valuable human beings, and was for me one of the best friends I found here. Then, the president, the employees, and the interns, all of them occupy a dedicated space in my heart, for the smile they donated to me, for the precious lessons I learned from them, and in general from each and every moment spent with them, in the workplace and out of it. I am sad in a way because I still do not know If I will have the chance to find an incredible work environment like the one I had here, but I am also happy because thanks to all these special people my mind will be forever full of valuable memories.
Then, I am especially thankful also for the amazing volunteers with whom I shared this experience. I worked, lived, and shared the bad and good moments of this experience with them, and they will all occupy a special place in my heart. Living with someone with different backgrounds and habits was perhaps the most challenging thing I had to deal with here. Many times we clashed, but many other times we laughed and enjoyed our moments together shared thoughts and struggles, and supported each other not only as friends but as adventure companions.
Finally, I want to mention how happy I am to have known so many other people from many different countries, that during this year I was hanging out with, exploring new places, and sharing experiences and ideas. Thanks to all of them, I can now say with certainty that I am more open-minded toward diversity than I have ever been before. I have never felt that satisfied with all the people around me than during this year. I have known people from all over Europe, and I have created friendships that will endure for my life. Two persons, in particular, V. and T., gave me more than I deserved and expected, and I am sure that they will be part of my life in one way or another, they are my best friends and beyond that a second family.
All the people I have known here contributed in part to my change as a person, to who I am today, and I made me realize that even when I feel alone when everything seems to be falling apart, there are people that are always there for you, especially when you need them the most, you just need to look around you and you will finally recognize who they are.
This last word clearly regards the person I have become so far. When I first started my experience, in August 2021, I would have never imagined of being able to change so much of myself, not even remotely. The steps I made here were possible thanks to all the experiences I made, and the people I met, for sure, but not only. All I learned and became was also thanks to me, and my ability to see what was missing in my life, seeing the opportunities that this project gave to me and use them to grow as an independent and mature person, with enough confidence to now deal with the life and its difficulties.
Here I learned to appreciate my value as a person, and valorize my positive sides, but I also learned to give myself empathy and accept my mistakes as an imperfect individual. I realized that I will always have something to work on, especially in this phase of my life, and that I certainly need to critique my actions in order to change what is best to change to be a better person, but that some other things of myself, are not possible to change, and need to accept them. I need to valorize my uniqueness as an individual, that uniqueness that renders me who I am.
I could certainly mention many other big and small improvements I believe I had during this year, but it does not matter now. What matters the most is that at the end of this experience, I end up being a person I like, a person that needs to do a lot to improve yet, but that has already a lot to offer to the society and the people around him, but mostly to himself.
Thank you, Bulgaria, thanks to Association Eunipartners, and thanks to all the people that have been around me during the last year, we will see us again!