Ekaterina Cherkashina (Intermediate)
Volunteering in France (эссе, 2010)
For a few years I had been looking at the announcements of international volunteering. But only this year I was ready for it. Last July I took part in a summer work camp in France. The idea of this project was that young people from different countries should work together. They do some simple work and have free food and accommodation. Work can be connected with ecology, with people, who need help, with architecture, with art, etc.
Our project was connected with the reconstruction of an old telegraph building. We were preparing it for the opening day.
We were living in a medieval little town with romantic name - Etoile. It means "a star". This town is located in the mountains and it has lovely views! It was high summer and the weather was wonder-ful.
A Chapel which has been built in 17th century became a home for me and seventeen other adven-turers. A pleasant surprise was to see our unusual place of residence. I was living there with nice people from Bolivia, South Korea, USA, England, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Ukraine and, certainly, France. Actually, it was an excellent chance to practice English.
We spent those three weeks shoulder to shoulder. We divided responsibilities for cleaning and cooking. But we often did everything together. We became a team:)
Every weekday we were working for only three hours. At weekends we could travel. So we visited the nearby cities - Lyon and Valance.
Every day in our free time we talked a lot, played games, walked around our beautiful town and visited different cultural events, because cultural life never stops in this town. So we visited such events as a circus on wheels, a rock concert and even an exhibition at the Art Gallery.
It was my first independent travel - not in an organized tour, but an independent trip to France. In the beginning I was very nervous. But the wish to experience adventures was bigger than worries.
I must say that all the people, who I asked for help during my journey in France, were kind and attentive. Everybody was trying to render maximum help. I’m really grateful to all of them. And I can't understand those who call the French arrogant people.
After all this I feel like a new person. I feel strong and I feel confident.
Now I have a whole big book filed with different national recipes. I have friends in other coun-tries. Now I can say that I took part in the restoration of historical heritage. What is more, France became familiar and kind of “native” for me.
It was unforgettable and unique experience!
And now I'm looking forward to my next volunteering trip. I want to repeat it as soon as possible!