"I offered my work in order to return what was given to me and to contribute as an active member of the society, and yet this community keeps donating me the marvellous gifts of friendship, care, cheerfulness, sense of belonging and delicious fika side by side with lovely companions!"
Leaving your country is surely an exciting experience, rich in adventures, interesting encounters, charming people and mesmerising customs to comprehend. In the past six years, I have lived in four different European countries and I have learnt that it doesn't matter whether you relocate for love, for a new job opportunity, for pursuing studies or for spirit of adventure: one of the biggest challenges we expats have to face consists in finding a renewed sense of belonging.
When I first arrived in Lund, it was winter and it was very cold outside, but the warmth I found at the International Citizen Hub Lund erased all the grey clouds in the sky and the darkness around me! The Hub really is a safe and cosy place, where the sense of being together goes beyond the concept of making friends, becoming a new way of sharing and caring. What I found the first time I approached the Hub was a true community of amazing people ready to take care of each other, support and encourage one another.
I have always been inclined to take part wholeheartedly in volunteer activities. I believe that life and people have been very kind to me, hence doing my best to help others is my way to return the kindness I received when I was in need for a gracious word or for advice. The International Citizen Hub Lund is certainly the best environment for anyone who wants to promote the circulation of kindness and generosity. At the Hub, the joy of giving becomes the immaterial currency to enrich the economy of living together, leaving no one behind. Being part of this community means being surrounded by gentle people and taking care of each other, sharing stories, tips, hard times, happy endings and tales of joy and success. It really does not matter where you are from, what you believe and with whom you live: you will always find help, encouragement, your spot and your cup of tea at the Hub! That's why I am so proud of having the chance to volunteer in such a welcoming and positive setting.
As a volunteer at the International Citizen Hub Lund, I enjoy assisting in activities during events and drop-ins. Either I participate as an ambassador, or help in the preparation of an event or welcome visitors, the most beautiful thing I witness is the commitment of the Hub staff and the excitement of the participants. Seeing attendees find answers to their questions and have great fun is the most extraordinary reward! Events and workshops are such wonderful tools for us expats, not only because they are the best way to learn about the Swedish system and culture, but also because they are the most precious chance for us to network, make friends and have delightful time in good company. Likewise, volunteering during the drop-ins allows me to get connected with expats who are seeking specific solutions to their issues. A drop-in is much more than an info-point meeting where information is provided by stuff to visitors who need guidance. Indeed, on such occasions the line between a volunteer and a visitor becomes thinner and thinner, for the problem of a single individual turns into the problem of the whole community, as we work together to overcome it. Alongside with the Hub staff, both volunteers and visitors come forward with great enthusiasm, taking steps and providing help, resolutions, reassurance and inspiration. In truth, a drop-in is a training ground for empathy, where mingling becomes sympathy and listening becomes feeling!
My tale of volunteering is definitely not about giving, but about receiving. Every time I cross the threshold of the International Citizen Hub Lund as a volunteer, I feel enriched by the life stories of courage, strength, passion and drive that I hear from those who share their experiences. I offered my work in order to return what was given to me and to contribute as an active member of the society, and yet this community keeps donating me the marvellous gifts of friendship, care, cheerfulness, sense of belonging and delicious fika side by side with lovely companions!
/ Martina Ferrucci