Lorraine is a French volunteer who was part of the team in Imaginatorium, our non-formal education center in the Roma mahalla of Gracanica. She joined us through an ESC project between 2018 and 2019.
It is a bit difficult finding the words to explain, describe these 8 months volunteering with GAIA Kosovo, but it has been one of the most meaningful and enriching experiences of my life, and it feels like none of the sentences are going to do justice to how much this experience meant to me.
It contributed to shape the person I am today, the way I see many things and the principles I want to adopt and keep in my life.
I feel very thankful today to have been able to experience this, especially for the people I met and spent time with.
I remember my first days, meeting the kids from Imaginatorium and the community, seeing their parents, the neighbours… and me mostly not understanding what was being said because I didn’t know the language. Over the time, with lessons and the help of the other volunteers, I got to communicate better with the kids, create links with some families, speak with some people from the town.
Working with children can be a bit of work, but it is also incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun. I got to play with them, see them learn and develop their ideas and their skills. Looking back, it was incredible to see them making progress in projects that were really motivating them, like theater, movie making etc… They also helped me a lot with getting to know the place and feel welcomed, teaching me the words that were missing from my vocabulary and many things I needed to know.
Beyond volunteering with the Imaginatorium, I was given the opportunity to learn about different subjects like permaculture, or peace-building both in theory and in practice. I keep a very strong memory of my first days in Kosovo, spent in Bozevce. I had heard about eco-construction before, but it was the first time I could see it done and participate in it, plastering the walls of the house with mud and straw.
Discovering, spending time and being able to get involved in GAIA’s other projects was something that I really appreciated during my time there. I’m not ready to forget how welcoming the GAIA community is, wherever you go. I’ll always be grateful for the people I had the chance to meet there, for the time spent with them and the moments we got to share.
Even though every day brings its challenges, working on myself and the person I want to be, volunteering with GAIA has taught me a lot, and I am really trying today to carry out and live according to some fundamental values that I re-discovered with this experience.