Everything happens for a reason.
by Arianna Vitiello, December 2018, Rujiena (Latvia)
On June 2th, 2018, I took my one-way flight to the Baltics, 150 kilometers from Riga, Rujiena was waiting for me and what I realize now, it was a place where I felt home for almost seven months.
During our lives we always know what we are leaving behind, but we never know the future.
Now I know, what was waiting for me, was one of those experiences that change your life.
Let’s start from the beginning. During my EVS I had the opportunity to work at Rūjienas Senioru Māja where I learned that if there is a way to improve the quality of life of the elder, is to surround them with joy and vitality and by building a bridge between generations.
I felt welcome and loved by seniors the way it only happens in a big family. Needless to say, I received more respect then what I was able to give. If the language barrier was sometimes a limitation, the eyes do not lie and the sincere hugs and smiles that they gave me day by day are worth more than words.
The elderly were to me masters of life, history professors and special grandparents and that is why they will always be in my heart.
Being in Latvia as a citizen of Southern Europe means many things all together. It means having a magical contact and almost mystical relationship with the nature, taking part in pagan rituals like the midsummer in June, seeing the midnight sun in July, swimming in the Baltic Sea in August, picking mushrooms in the forest between late September and early October. It means the snow in mid-November and the sunset at three in the afternoon in December.
It is going to the forests with a tent in the summer and decorating Christmas trees in winter. It means being able to go from one end of the country to the other admiring many uncontaminated and unique landscapes. It means being able to know people that at the beginning are closed, but only need time to welcome you.
I spent my months of European Voluntary Service as a global experience trying to involve the whole local community as much as possible, for this, I had a plan to promote Italian culture abroad, I held a series of workshops in different cities of the country (Sigulda, Jelgava, Rezekne, Valmiera, Liepaja, Riga, Ventspils, Jurmala, Kuldiga) where, following a brief introduction, I showed how to cook the main dishes of Italian culinary tradition such as Neapolitan pizza (not with pineapple, not with ketchup!) and tiramisu (coffee with the machine and not the soluble one!).