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Life begins when you leave the comfort zone

While two months may seem like a short period of time, the fact remains that they can be invested very well.

For a period of two months, in fact, I took part in a Development Cooperation project that I met thanks to one of the professors of the University of Málaga; the project would take place in the “Rincon de Luz” Center, in the city of Cochabamba (Bolivia) and fortunately I was chosen. At first I was a bit uncertain: it seemed a bit too long, especially since I had just returned to Spain after 9 months spent abroad. However, after 3 weeks I left for Bolivia, a country of which I only knew the geographical position and a few other details.

In a short time, therefore, I entered an environment full of novelties: on the one hand I would have had to live for a while in a country that was very different from mine in terms of economic and social conditions, on the other I would have to immerse myself in a volunteer experience that would have required a great deal of commitment. I must admit that I was very worried before leaving but, as the days went by, I learned not to be afraid of the different anymore, and this - probably - is the most important thing I learned during this experience.

In fact, in the days before my departure, I had received some messages that had discouraged me and many people who were next to me spoke very badly of Bolivia (moreover always from hearsay), trying to warn me; for this reason I began to doubt my choice, I wondered if it was really an experience within my reach, if I would be able to live in a place considered "dangerous".

However, after living for 2 months south of Cochabamba, I think many of those ideas have no basis; it is true, you have to be careful (for example, it is better to always be accompanied by someone from the place when you go around in the evening), but otherwise I have never experienced experiences that made me feel in danger, nor that made me fear for my life or my physical integrity. Regarding volunteering, it was a different experience from what I had in mind and in this case too there are many things that I have learned. I left thinking that I would have to carry out mainly bureaucratic tasks, as the “Rincon de Luz” Center was in dire need - at that time - of a license to continue to move forward; on the contrary, however, I found myself carrying out very different activities. It took a bit of flexibility - there were so many needs that arose and added together - and this made me understand better what it means to do volunteering.

Tutti questi compiti sono stati allo stesso modo arricchenti, si può imparare da ogni cosa (anche da quelle che consideriamo inutili). L’aver lavorato per questo progetto mi ha fatto apprezzare molti più aspetti del mio Paese d’origine che davo per scontati: ora mi fermo a riflettere sul perché delle cose, metto in discussione ciò che davo per scontato e in genere ho imparato ad essere più grata. Oltre a questo ci terrei a ringraziare ancora una volta tutti quelli che hanno reso possibile questa esperienza. Incoraggio tutti coloro che ne hanno l’occasione ad avventurarsi, a non lasciarsi fermare dalla paura perché, alla fine, la vita inizia quando esci dalla tua zona di comfort.

Elena Hertz García.

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