interview nicolo-converted-page-001 2It's a totally different place compared to the other two but I think that during the choice, the project should have priority, not the place.  I'm glad to be in Slovakia because it's a less known country and living here gives me the opportunity to explore it deeply. Probably without this volunteer experience, I would never have visited these places as a tourist.

Did you know anything about Slovakia before you came here?

Well, not too much: where is located, the capital, something about the history of the last century, that in winter it's cold and the most popular sport is ice hockey. And finally I am a football fan, so I knew some players and unfortunately, I remembered the victory of the national team against Italy in the 2010 World Cup.

nico on the fieldWhat is the most beautiful place you have visited so far and what else you want to see?

It's a difficult choice because there are several places that surprised me: High Tatras, Orava Castle, Liptovska Mara, the Eco-village in Sekier, Mala Fatra and the little town of Kremnica. In the next months, I'd like to visit Banska Stiavnica, Banska Bystrica and Kosice.

How is your Slovak language going? Are there some difficult words you have no idea how to pronounce?

Next question...? Okay, after six months at least I don't make mistakes anymore when I read c and č. Furthermore, I can say and I can understand some useful words and small sentences to communicate in restaurants and at school. Sometimes I need time to understand how to pronounce new words with many consonants. In the Italian language, vowels are used more and it's difficult to find words with more than three consecutive consonants like “zmrzlina” or “srdce”.

Can you tell a little bit about your culture?

I think you already know a lot about Italian culture but I want to give you three strict indications about our cuisine, one of the most appreciated in the world: 

  • In Italy eating pizza with pineapple or filling it with different kind of spices is forbidden.
  • Each sauce must be combined with a specific kind of pasta. In Italy, you can't put Bolognese sauce with spaghetti (spaghetti alla bolognese don't exist!), but only with lasagne, tagliatelle or maccheroni. In the same way, we don't eat tagliatelle or lasagne with tomato sauce.
  • In pasta alla carbonara there are only eggs, bacon, and Parmigiano or pecorino cheese. If you want to put some cream I can't stop you, but don't name your dish “carbonara”!

I also recommend you to try the aperitivo: take your glass of wine, beer or your non-alcoholic drink and taste it before dinner with some finger food. Especially in summer it's a good way to start the evening. If you come to some beautiful beaches in Italy you can have an aperitivo talking with your friends and watching the sunset. And after all together at the restaurant to eat fish or pasta with seafood!

nico reading a mapWould you recommend volunteering to young people in Slovakia?

Of course, I would recommend it. Thanks to volunteering you have the opportunity to improve your skills in the field that interest you most and at the same time live surrounded by nice people from different countries and with different cultures. For example, after six months I have new knowledge not only about Slovakia but also about the places where other volunteers come from: I tasted the food of different parts of the world, I learned how to say “cheers” in many languages and I discovered habits and customs that I didn't know before.  Last but not least you can travel in the country that hosts you and in the neighbouring countries  What

What would be your message to young people who maybe do not know what to do next?

I would tell them to try an experience like that because it's a good way to be more aware of the plans for the future or just to get rid of some fears that we all have when we think about the unknown: after some time in a new place, with new people and new responsibilities, you realize that it's not impossible to face what at first may scare you

What volunteering gave to you? Do you think it changed you? Or that you developed professionally and personally?

First of all the volunteering gave me the opportunity to grow personally because for the first time I left my country for a long time and I lived with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I learnt to respect them, to relate to them, and to face difficulties that cohabitation can generate. Professionally my volunteering project gave me the opportunity to improve my English and to teach and learn different languages through non-formal teaching methods which helped me differentiate and improve my Italian and English lessons. Finally, after this experience, I am also more self-confident and rich in knowledge gained from the great people I met. Certainly, I'll never forget the children who spent wonderful moments with me throughout the year and made me feel like a V.I.P asking for signatures and taking photos with me.

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