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The expected moment has arrived... Finally, I am in the last month of my volunteering. When I talked to other volunteers at the beginning of my project, they told me that time passes so quickly. Now I understand what they meant. One year has passed in the blink of an eye, but I can still say I have experienced a lot.

I remember when my project started, on the first day I went to a park and cried alone. I remember I was scared not because of sadness but because of confusion and uncertainty. There were times when I cried again in this one year, though rarely; but this time I was not alone. :) You know how life is, we are on an emotional roller-coaster. There are always ups and downs, but I realized that the downs can be as enjoyable as the ups when you have people to share them with. I was lucky that I spent a year full of lovely people. My teachers at school became my mentors and friends at the same time. With their support, I adapted to a new culture much more easily. I feel fortunate to be able to communicate with them easily.

The friends I made during this one year also added color to my life. Even though we didn't always see each other, I always felt their support and learned a lot from them. It turns out that you don't need crazy parties to socialize and a long conversation over a cup of coffee can add a lot to a person. Or a trip together... I have to admit that I am someone who enjoys traveling alone, but I realized that I also enjoy a trip with a friend. Discovering a new city, its streets, hidden delicacies, breathtaking landscapes, and sharing this enthusiasm with someone else is also enjoyable. My friends must have thought so too, because we were able to plan small trips together. These trips have brought me a lot because they took me out of my comfort zone. I learned that I need to plan my time and budget well and I think I have improved myself in this regard (okay, maybe I still have a lot to learn about budgeting :D ). Apart from these, seeing new cultures also gave me different perspectives. I had the chance to catch similar and different aspects of my own culture. It is an incredible feeling to see that the world is not as I observe it from the window of my room in Turkey and to discover it step by step...

As I was coming to the end of my project, I realized that I was going to miss the children at school. When I went to school on days and when it was hard to get out of bed, the students running up to me, shouting "Ilaydaaa!" and hugging my legs reminded me how meaningful and beautiful my work was. Singing songs together, realizing how much they have improved themselves, and observing that each of them has a completely different character is a tremendous thing! Sometimes I wonder if they will remember me years later... I hope they will get to great places and maybe one day we will meet again.

Lastly, for this life-changing experience, I would like to thank my teachers, especially my coordinator, my friends and sending organization in Izmir, my family who supported me, and the friends I made here. I am glad you are here, you have been a source of motivation for my next adventure. Thank you for the colors you added to my canvas, thanks to you I was able to paint a beautiful picture. Hope to see you again!

Text a foto: Ilayda Paran

Ilayda je dobrovoľníčka programu Európsky zbor solidarity na projekte v detskom centre Hlavička. Projekt bol podporený z programu EÚ Európsky zbor solidarity.

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