Yong, one year in France

My name is Yong. Now I’m 28 years old but I was 24 years old when I participated in long term volunteer project in France.

I was a volunteer in Service Civique program, which is supported by French government. The organization that I worked with is called Citrus. It is in the south of France, about an hour from Toulouse.  

This was my first time living aboard for a year. It was challenging in the beginning. I carried a lot of fears and worries. But once I arrived in the project, I felt much better with a warm welcoming from the staffs and also other volunteers.

About working, we worked together between volunteers and insertion workers. Most of the time, we cleaned or renovated the train station. Apart from this, we also host the groups. When we hosted the group, we worked together and also cooked together. It doesn’t sound difficult but it does. Cooking for a big group of people was one big challenge of our voluntary service. At the end of my volunteering year, I also took part in the workcamp. I led teenagers’ workcamp with 2 more leaders. Workcamp leading helps me a lot to be more patient and flexible at the same time. I experienced a few hard situations and we had learned from them. Moreover, we worked also with teenagers in the village. There was a club named “Bouge Ta Bogue”. We organized some trips outside and also some cultural activities with teenagers.

About living, we lived together in volunteers’ house. There are 3 bedrooms, one for girls, one for boys and another for guests. It sounds simple but not actually. Washing dishes was always our issue. We had a meeting every Friday with our mentor to organize and discuss our daily lives in the house. Imagine living together all the time for a year, it was not easy but in the end, we end up to be really close friends.

After this one year experience, I found myself growing up a lot, for sure not for my physical aspect haha. I had learned how to open my mind for the strangers, how to adapt and compromise when they were hard situations and also how to be confident and make a decision when it needed. I had learned to believe in myself and my abilities. This volunteering experience gave me a chance to learn that voluntary service supports us to discover about the others and (the big part is) to discover ourselves. J