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A gap year brings us much beauty and surprises


EVS International project Project

Questo post è disponibile anche in: Italian

“What do you invent to not go to school or work” could say a person ignoring that a sabbatical year brings us many beauties and surprises. So why choose twelve months volunteering with Youmore Morcelli Giovani in Chiari? My answer is simply: the Italian soul!

I applied on the European Youth Portal and after the Skype call, using my roommate’s headphones, I did not expect to be taken. Arrived first of three volunteers and the shopping made in a foreign language, I found myself curiously opening a dictionary for children and telling me that the new adventure starts.


Born in Luxembourg by Portuguese parents who migrated when they were young, I studied for six years in Belgium and I am not afraid to select again another place to live in the future. This is a small step for my nomadic spirit, but I’m sure to leave a piece of my heart wherever I go.

Erasmus + gives us the opportunity to share our joy to continue to dream more and more. Seeing each person open his horizons, ready to travel, I feel happy to be European. We don’t do tourism without contributing to the society where we go and we strive to understand better what surrounds us. For me, non-formal education creates links between all participants who wish to improve themselves in a fun and friendly way.

Being part of a youth association with these values makes me believe in a brighter future where our activities have a real and significant impact. In Chiari, we are five women working, living and growing together in three apartments and in the office of the Istituto Morcelliano Foundation. Coming from different areas of the European continent, we share our strengths and weaknesses to build an island of multiculturalism. Our dear Sona and Justina showed us how a non-governmental organization works with different national and international entities. They follow us carefully and are our example of the unique experience that is the European Voluntary Service. Surely they are the first people we are grateful for. But the course would not be at all the same if I didn’t have Biljana and Amanda next to me. Like an older and a younger sister, they brought me a thousand emotions and many happy memories.

Before EVS, I had never been in Italy and I knew people, stories and traditions only from what was said abroad. Now the street of the Chiari train station to our “pink apartment” is familiar to me, since I like a lot going on a trip. I tried to go everywhere and I certainly fell in love with Italian cultural richness. Curious by nature and surrounded by the right friends, I visited with great joy. Sometimes it amazes me that many Italians have never thought of organizing themselves to find out more about their magnificent country.


As a promoter of Youmore’s projects and giving a helping hand when I can, I have perfected my digital and communication skills. Very helpful. I am more confident and relaxed to be able to do the things I want, such as using a new language with commitment. With all the time we have, we are fortunate to be able to fulfill our desires, helping and being helped with solidarity and tolerance. Maybe it’s not always easy, but we try to be aware of our attitude to continue our heroic journey.

With great affection, I thank every person who has allowed this year to be unforgettable! It was a volunteering full of encounters with extraordinary people and I will bring with me much more than I expected. The magic happens when you’re not preparing on purpose and I say it because I found my love Vladimir, with whom the adventure will continue after Italy.

Stephanie Bernardes,

EVS volunteer at Youmore

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