By Simone Kundu from Delhi, Hosted in Italy
“Someone told me that this PEACE program would change me, it did not only change me, but it changed the way I think and the way I respond. Everytime I think about my host family, local coordinator, friends, fellow volunteers, and fellow participants, I cannot help but get emotional. My host family gave me place in their hearts and in their minds, my local chapter coordinator had helped me, my friends loved me and showed me their country, my fellow participant showed me their countries while sitting in Italy. I feel blessed to have met them and share few months of my life with them. I’m so happy I could do so much of voluntary work there, I used to work with LESS ONLUS which believed in me and asked me to prepare a comparison research of REFUGEES in India and Italy. They liked it to such an extent that they stamped and published it and sent it to the Italian government. I’m so happy to make this decision as now I have a whole new vision to the world and things and how one’s actions affect the others.
My journey was nothing but an adventurous roller coaster. I was in a country where pizza was invented rich with pastas, cheese, olive oil, tomatoes and garlic. Italian regional dishes are distinct—from Tuscany in the North, to Sicily in the South. Each area of Italy is like a world unto itself , freedom to live is in practice with full swings. I’ve shared a special bond with my host mother and some other participants and I guess I won’t ever forget them or even let them forget me ( just kidding). I went to Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Torino and Naples was my city. My Italian friends were envious as they’ve not visited all of them yet. I loved all those true political discussions with my family in Italy just the way I did in India. You truly become an Italian One, when you understand that ciao is ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ both and second when you start making gestures unknowingly, that is the best feeling ever. No matter how bad time me and my family shared together, it was the hardest thing to leave them and come back to my country. Well, between leaving my host country and returning to my home country was the PEACE PROGRAM in BELGIUM and I would say these days were certainly the best. This experience could not be lived with the help of money. I could easily write a book on this camp. It was finally the day where we, the first PEACE participants had our final discussions. It was when we had to sum up all the work we had done in our countries and discuss it with the European volunteers at Hanenbos (possibly the best location). We had ‘n’ number of activities, playing werewolf with everyone or discussing things with Zeno are the things I miss the most. OMG how can I forget the Belgian Waffles, that was the best thing one could ever eat. The chance to visit the European parliament was the bestest of all. I miss it so much but I’m sure I’ll be visiting them soon and I’ll be going there to study design.
What is the fatal charm of Italy? What can we find there that can be found nowhere? I believe its a certain permission to be human, which other places lost long ago.
Your ITALY and our ITALIA are not the same things. Italy is all about the sunset, olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It’s the kind of place that can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters, or in the course of 10 mins. Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.”