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Portrait of the month: Nazia, volunteer at the foundation (Sept. 2020)

Meeting with Nazia, volunteer at Emmaus Iasi since february 2020. Her volunteer service was temporarily interrupted during the sanitary crisis, but she was finally able to come back to Romania in july. This month we wanted to know her impressions about her first months of volunteering at Emmaus, what she gained through this experience but also what her plans are for the following of her Civic Service.

Hello Nazia, first of all can you briefly introduce yourself and can you explain why you decided to volunteer at Emmaus in Iași ? 

My name is Nazia, I am 24. After finishing my psychology degree at Besançon, I worked several small jobs that were not very fulfilling professionally or personally. But I was not sure that I wanted to continue my studies either. I was immediately interested by the different projects carried out by Emmaus in Iași. I already knew a little about Emmaus in France, but I had no idea that the actions of the association could vary that much, and that is what made me want to join Emmaus Iași. That, and also the fact that I wanted to travel and discover another culture. 

How long have you been in Iași and how long will you be staying?

My volunteering started in february 2020 which was interrupted shortly after because of the COVID19 in Romania and in France. That was very frustrating because I had just arrived and I had no idea when I could come back to Romania. I was finally able to return to Iași in july and now I will continue volunteering until february. 

What does your volunteer mission consist exactly at Emmaus Iași ? 

I don’t have specific missions, that depends mainly on the needs of the moment. In february I participated in the food distribution on the street. I helped in the preparation of sandwiches, in sorting clothes and I also helped with sales at the store. Since I came back in July, I could spend more time at the Popesti’s farm and at the Belvedere, where I participated in the corn, potatoes and alfalfa harvests. I started to write and lay out the newsletters and I also do written translations in english for the Emmaus Iași website or for the portraits of the month… I was also able to participate in several clothes distribution on the street this summer. These distributions are organized in partnership with the FONSS association.  

So far, what are the positive aspects of your volunteering experience and what did you like the least ? 

What I really appreciate about my volunteering is the diversity of the actions carried out by Emmaus Iași. There is a very social side to the missions, when we directly help the homeless people by providing them food and clothes, but also all the substantive work that makes all these actions achievable. I think that what I appreciate the most is to work  in the field with the homeless people of Iași but I also like all the agricultural activities of Emmaus at the Belvedere or at Popesti because I think that it is a very interesting reintegration support which others Emmaus associations in the world doesn’t have. 

There aren't really any aspects of my volunteering that I don't like, but there are situations that I found more difficult than others, especially at the beginning of my volunteering, but it’s also what is making this experience so interesting. To give an example, I did not think that the language barrier would be so present. It is very frustrating for me to not  be able to communicate as I would like to with the companions, some managers, or the customers of the store. Having to live almost constantly in a community was a bit difficult for me too because this is a situation that I'm not used to.

What surprised you the most when you arrived in Iași? What are the things that differ the most from your other professional or personal experience in France for example?

In France everything is very hierarchical and codified in a way that makes the work easier from an organizational point of view, it looks like things are easier to set up, but I think that it also impoverishes human relations. Here, I was surprised by the organization which seemed to be very different in Romania than in France, but I think that it is more of a cultural difference than specific to the functioning of the Emmaus Iași Foundation.I find a true team spirit and a sense of community that I had not known during my previous professional experiences. I was also surprised by the intense family atmosphere that rules in the community. Everyone is very welcoming and it's nice to come to another country and to not be left on your own. As civic service volunteers, we are really well supported in our integration. There is a beautiful transmission which takes place between the old civic services volunteers and the new ones, but also with the other members of the team who are happy to make us discover Iași, and who really make sure that we feel a bit like at home.

Another thing that surprised me: Romanian cuisine is very good!

What do you plan to do for the rest of your civic service?

With Rémi, the other volunteer, we would like to be able to set up partnerships with some schools in Iași, such as agricultural science students, for example, so they can do internships at the foundation. It would really be an interesting exchange of knowledge that would allow the association to develop even more on this level. It would also allow us to make the foundation known to a larger number of people. Apart from that, I intend to continue my current missions and also learn Romanian.

What will you miss the most once your volunteering is done?

What I will miss after my departure is the working atmosphere at Emmaus Iași which I think is impossible to find elsewhere. I will also miss the companions of Emmaus Iași. Most of them had very difficult experiences and contact with them is not always easy, but they all have very marked personalities, very different from each other, and I found it very enriching to work with them.


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