Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

Lidia on why she has decided to go to Russia

Every time I talk to a Russian person for the first time, their question is: “Why did you come to Russia?”. Everyone is always surprised by my choice, but to be honest there was no serious reason. It is very possible that I chose this place because of pure curiosity. After all, for years we have been bombarded with various types of information about this country, but do we really know “how life is in this Russia?”. I remember that when browsing projects I saw one in St. Petersburg and I immediately became interested in it.
So it turned out that it was here that I would spend the next year of my life.

 

 

Every day I take care of people with physical and mental disabilities. I work in a daycare center, where I spend time with them, help them with feeding, toilets, etc. At first, all activities seemed difficult. Because each person suffers from a different disease, everyone, even with the simplest activity, has to be approached individually.
Memorizing the needed words, names and techniques was overwhelming, but surprisingly I quickly got rid of feelings of helplessness. I was able and still am to notice how things get simpler by the day. Activities that seemed impossible or overwhelming to me during the first days now come with an easy smile on my face. I didn’t even notice when I became so attached to the people I work with – both my colleagues and my mentees. Recently, I was even able to feel it on my own skin when one of the mentees came to me and said “uznala”, and then invited me to her small “base” built of mattresses and blankets. It’s worth trying to develop for such moments! In addition, you begin to appreciate small things. I can’t count how many times a day we all laugh or smile together. After some time, there is no longer a guardian – disabled/mentee barrier. Initially, you try not to laugh when a disabled person fails with something, slips a word, or does something unexpected. There was this wall of misunderstanding between us involuntarily, but over time all walls can collapse. You really don’t have to be a specialist to become part of something so wonderful.

 

Saint Petersburg itself is as you would expect – beautiful. The number of nooks and crannies, charming small streets, pretty buildings knows no bounds. I’m still getting to know new places. All you need to do is turn right along the main street and you are in a completely different place. For the first weeks, it was easy to get lost, the city consisted of only a few landmarks, which after some time began to combine into a whole. One thing is certain, if you manage to embrace such a huge city, with ONLY ( according to Russians) over 5 million inhabitants, you will not be able to get lost anywhere in Poland!

In addition, it is very easy to get fit there, you go everywhere on foot (admiring the views) and you will not even notice that you have walked another 3 kilometers

 

 

As a person who took part in volunteering shortly after graduating from high school, I can honestly recommend this type of project to all young people. After only three months I can see how much I have learned not only about disabilities! Such an adventure will definitely allow you to develop your best qualities and allow you to look into yourself. After such a short period of time, I finally managed to realize what I would like to do in my life, which paths I will follow (Yes, you can choose more than one!).

 

 

Both the language and the Russian culture may seem very similar to ours, but when dealing with it every day I think it is one of the biggest myths! Of course, not everything will shock us, e.g.like volunteers from Spain, but the longer I stay here, the more differences I can show. The same applies to the language, which does not turn out to be so similar. I am slowly opening up and trying to communicate using Russian, but I realize that there is still a lot ahead of me.

 

However, during such a project you don’t focus on one culture only. All the time I get to know new customs from all over the world. Thanks to people around me and other volunteers, I get to learn new gestures and expressions, new flavors and look at various issues from a different angle. First of all, I remain open to new experiences.

 

 

 

written by Lidia Buczel, who is volunteering between October 2019 – September 2020