Last February we welcomed six Civil Service volunteers to our team in the ALDA offices of Brussels, Skopje and Strasbourg. After four months since their arrival, Alessandro, Arianna, Elisa, Francesca, Giorgia and Virginia share their thoughts about their experience in ALDA so far.
Virginia: “I had the chance to start my journey with the ALDA’s Project Management Unit in the stimulating and dynamic office of Strasbourg, and I feel grateful for the support shown to me by the ALDA staff. Thanks to the trust they placed in me, I really feel part of a big team who shares the same values. Among all the things I learned so far, I guess the most unexpected was having to quickly rearrange project activities -while preserving their value- based on the new safety rules enforced by the pandemic. In the forthcoming months, I look forward to devoting myself to the tasks I still have not had the occasion to experience, such as delivering in-person trainings, travelling to meet a partner or attending international meetings and conferences”.
Giorgia: “The entire Brussels team is young, kind, and active! I’m working with the Programmes & Development unit and it has been a learning, exciting, and challenging experience. In the past few weeks, besides, I’ve started to collaborate more with ALDA+ and I’ve found this part of the job very exciting, too! ALDA is an association with many different sectors of expertise and it’s good to have the opportunity to try new tasks and diversify your work. I look forward to working on the development of the projects, because I’m really interested in this aspect of the job! I also look forward to returning to the Brussels office full time very soon, and to a more normal life outdoors!”.
Elisa: “The global pandemic made my first months in Skopje more solitary than expected. I started working remotely only two weeks after my arrival, and the city rapidly shut down in the following days. It’s not hard to practice social distancing in a city you barely know: what is harder is to focus on adapting to a new workplace and lifestyle even when the usual coping strategies are not accessible. The biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of cultivating soft skills: especially when working remotely, they turned out to be paramount to maintain a good communication and team cohesion. As the global lockdown loosens up, I am really looking forward to opportunities to explore the neighboring countries and meet the different LDAs to gain a deeper understanding of the Region”.
Francesca: “Considering the uncertain times in which we are all living, I believe that having the chance to work during this pandemic has definitely been a privilege. My first months at ALDA have been quite enriching: every day has been full of opportunities and stimuli to develop a new fundraising strategy or find an innovative idea to present along with a project. I can’t wait to go back to the Council of Europe and feel again part of its dynamic life. This will bring me the same buzzing feeling I now experience when I walk around Strasbourg and I see all the flowers in full blossom. There are thousands of other projects I am eager to start writing and I’m sure that ALDA is the right place to keep furthering my personal and professional development“.
Arianna: “My civil service started in Skopje, but global events that ran over our everyday life led me to decide to return to Italy. So, what I have learned so far is to be ready to take significant decisions by responding fully to any inconvenience. Too bad, for lack of time I could not (yet) discover Macedonian culture and Skopje’s heritage. Despite everything, I however attended a few events that showed me a little slice of Balkan traditions and customs. And our international team certainly demonstrated how to respond efficiently and work productively in a hard moment: the ALDA team is working creatively to re-aim our old goals with a new method. I look forward to being able to return to my office with even more interest and motivation”.
Alessandro: “It has only been 4 months since my Belgian adventure began and yet I already have the feeling that the person who left his beloved Roman home is no longer the same as he was before he left. Perhaps this is due to all the changes I’ve embraced: new city, new habits, new responsibilities and new friends or more simply because I finally stepped out of my comfort zone. As I read somewhere, stepping out of your comfort zone means you’re moving into uncharted territory. You’re trying things that you’ve never tried before and learning things you’ve never learned before. In other words, I basically went from being a fairly big fish in my pond to being a tiny little scared fish. But I guess that it’s perfectly normal and I think it’s all part of the same process. As long as I have an open mind and I can count on my incredible new colleagues nothing is going to hold me back from enjoying this amazing experience. Here, thanks to ALDA, more than technical aspects I am learning how to be a more multitasking and flexible person, capable of adopting a resilient approach in difficult times. Looking to the future, I do believe that things are going to get better and better”.
Together, we will make it! We heartily thank all six Civil Service volunteers and can’t but wish them an even better (and more mobile!) second quarter of their year-long experience!