My one year experience as a volunteer in Trondheim – Norway gave me fulfillment
Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2012
My story in my own words: fulfillment
My name is Antonella from Sardinia in Italy. I was volunteering at the “section for adult education” (Enhet for Voksenopplæring), with three other volunteers – one from Italy and two from Bosnia. My experience in Trondheim, started one year ago, in August, ending July this year.
The organisation, in which we worked, deals with adults education, handling immigrants who escaped from wars and difficult situations in their countries to find new settlement in Norway. We were placed in different schools with different tasks. Personally, at first, I was assisting a multi-handicaped student.
I also had a “conversation group” and a “pronounciation group”, in which the students could improve their English skills, and this went on smoothly because I have a Master’s Degree in Languages and Literatures,.
It was a pleasure for me to work with them. I noticed they felt free to talk with me and to say their own opinion about everything, without being “scared” to offend someone, probably because I was not a “real” teacher and I was a foreigner like them.
With this, I don’t mean they said bad things about Norway or Norwegians (on the contrary, they were grateful to the country for taking them in). I just mean that sometimes, when you’re abroad, you feel guilty even if you say “I don’t like that food”, because you think your host could take it personally, misunderstanding what you really mean.
I was surprised of the fact that, even though they came from countries devastated by wars and violence, they always smiled and were always ready to help one another.
I remember the first day I went to school, I couldn’t understand a word of Norwegian language, and just one of them could speak English. Despite this, a woman came to me, introduced herself and offered me some chocolate and nuts, and because I couldn’t understand her words, she tried to explain me everything using her hands. It was funny, and it made me feel like home: we Italians are famous for “talking with hands”.
When I was able to speak the language a little bit, I started working as assistant for a storytelling and singing teacher, where I helped, together with the other volunteers, in preparing a theatre piece, which was played in June.
In the meantime, thanks to my mentor, who introduced me to some friends, I had the possibility to work in the backstage of the Trondheim Music Festival, and to continue my kickboxing training at the gym, where, after a couple of months, they asked me to help them with the children training.
It was great, it gave me the possibility not only to do something I like, but also to make friends and improve my language skills.
During the year, we had two seminars, in which we met all the volunteers who were in Norway, located in different places, and it was good to get to know them and share our experiences.
It was nice to be in “Norway” for one year and I would really recommend it, even though, it needs to be said, not everything was “roses and flowers”, as we say in Italy – that means I had moments in which I really wondered why I had chosen to do it, and I wanted to quit as a volunteer.
Fortunately, I had friends who helped me a lot, and I found a “brother” in Claudio, the other Italian volunteer who was in my project, who helped me to go on and finish what I had started, even though we often argued…maybe because of our age difference – I’m 30 and he’s 22 and that led us to dwell in different points of view.
I really have to say thank you to everyone who made my year in Norway a positive one. My wish is to visit the country again in future!
I say to those in Norway: “Tusen Takk” – “Thank You – in English.