I am Katarzyna (shortly: Kasia) Marciszewska, I am from Poland and couple of weeks ago I turned 22 years old, while being here in Izmir, Turkey on volunteering project from Pi Youth Association. But how did I even end up in this project? And why in my case I am writing this post after only 1,5 months? Let mi explain!
I am a student in Lodz University of Technology, and I am studying Biomedical Engineering Technologies on my last semester of studies – so that’s also means that I’m preparing to write my engineering thesis. At my university, I was (and still am), participating in a student organization called ESN-EYE, which organizes many events and projects oriented on exchange Erasmus students and local students. Because my journey in this organization, I was already interested in volunteering and helping other people. Apart from that, in this year I went on my Erasmus semester to Athens, Greece to study abroad for over 5 months and get to know new life, new challenges etc. All of these and many more aspects led me to the place that I’m right now – volunteering in Turkey!
After coming back from Erasmus to my hometown – Łódź in Poland, I wanted to do something with the rest of my holidays before starting university once again. I was focused on going somewhere abroad, either on internship or Erasmus project. I’ve chosen the second option and I was mainly focused on Izmir in Turkey, because of the couple reasons. I have never been in Turkey, and I met maaany friends on Erasmus, which were from this city, including my boyfriend. All these aspects made me want to explore this city more and try volunteering in a new country. I saw an offer on Facebook that Pi Youth Association was looking for short-term (for 2 months) and long-term (for 1 year) volunteers, so I tried my chances. I send all the needed documents, and to my surprise, I got response quickly that they were interested! Shortly after that, we had the interview, where we talked about the project and everything, and I got accepted! After that, I was already all packed up and ready to go on 1st of September 20223! The only sad part was that, due to my university starting in October, I had to shorten my already short project from 2 months to 1,5 months.
After arriving in Izmir, I was introduced to other volunteers that I was going to be roommates with and my new home in Buca. I arrived at the evening so nothing much happened on the first day, but the next days were interesting! We were exploring the city with other volunteers from other flats, going to the office and already working in the Kültürpark in promoting our association within Turkish people! After that, we had some cultural events for us (volunteers) to get to know Turkish culture. We were going around the city, trying Turkish coffee, tea, snacks etc. Of course, there was also a time to try Turkish food, which in my opinion testes amazing. We were also meeting other Turkish volunteers and they were showing us the city.
Later, the workshops started. Me and other volunteers (Laurine and Vincent) were the first the prepare the workshop for kids! It was at the same time exciting and scary because we didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a fun experience, even though there were some things which we didn’t think about earlier. For example, different levels of English within kids and that sometimes you have to improvise when the challenges appear suddenly. Overall, it was a success, but we also learn a lot from it.
After that, we unfortunately couldn’t conduct workshops as planned for about 2 weeks due to health problems within majority of our volunteers. We chose to focus on health, and we were resting for this time in order not to infect others and to heal ourselves.
But let’s forget about it! Passing to some better part, we went to the On-Arrival Training in Afyonkarahisar! We spent 3,5 days in amazing 5-star hotel participating in many workshops and learning a lot about ESC, volunteering and Turkey. We also had a chance to meet volunteers from other cities in Turkey to compare our experiences. This time was amazing, and the food was great!
And that’s when my journey with Pi Youth Association ended. I enjoyed it a lot and I’m happy that I took part in it. I learned a lot of new things about me and I’m planning to use them in a future. I also might take part into another project, but this time long-term. But when? We’ll see