Ten months ago I was one among the 50% of youngsters unemployed in Spain. I was looking for a job, sending CVs everywhere and trying to fit in to those strict profiles the companies are looking for. I have to say it was quite a frustrating period. I did my homework: I studied hard, I got my degree, I paid four years of – public but not cheap – university and after that I kept studying for a master’s. I couldn’t understand then why it was so difficult to get to the next step: to find a job. Not even a good one, I would’ve said yes to a precarious job. But then I came across the opportunity to volunteer abroad and at the moment I’m doing my EVS (European Voluntary Service) in Antwerp, Belgium, in the International Secretariat of SCI.
Just the idea and the preparation before the project changed my mood and my point of view completely. I started feeling useful and motivated. Since the very beginning I was asked: How can you contribute? What can you do better? What do you want from the next months? And since the first moment I had something to prove, not just to me but also to that system/market that made me feel left out or unable to fit. And I was happy to finally have to opportunity to do so.
In my volunteer path I’ve met amazing people, I’ve got to know myself better and I’ve joined training a and seminar on the topics that are very interesting for me like communication and human rights. I’ve learned content and values, and of course the practical part of both. But if I try to summarize it, I like to think that I’ve made a contribution to society, that I’ve been engaged. That we (together with many others) have made and are making a difference.
Photo by Pol Febas, CCIVS (action within Raising Peace Campaign)
One of the parts that I really enjoyed were the conversations – If you combine good Belgian beer and SCI people, you find yourself hatching a plan to fix the world in a jiffy. Sharing and talking with them I realized I was just one of many youngsters in this situation. But funnily enough, the system is pushing us to change it. Together, it was easy to see the positive part of this so called “crisis” that we (young people) did not cause but are paying. This is a crisis of a system that has a path full of steps and to do’s for us – from when we are in the school until we find a job with a salary that doesn’t even pay our student loans. But we are supposed to be grateful and not complain, because “that’s how things work nowadays”. However, the “crisis” has made a gad in this path, pushing us to take another way, a way where steps are not so rigid, where personal development gains importance, where thinking outside the box is rewarded and not punished. A way where we are aware of our value, not just as individuals but also as a society. The question “what can we do to change our world” becomes “what are we doing for it?”.
It sounds powerful, doesn’t it? Yet the opportunities for youth civic engagement are not enough. It’s hard sometimes to find the proper chances that will lead to a real change. There is a long way to go and it’s young people and youth organizations’ duty to claim for more and better opportunities, abroad and at home, for social, political and any kind of engagement. Some days ago I read somewhere that it is always youth’s task to make history in the future and society’s obligation to provide youth with sufficient resources and an honest basis for hope in carrying out this task. It is a long sentence, I know, but it is worth it to read it twice, and to make it a goal. It should be our common task, not just of youth but also elders, to preserve, while transforming, a society for the good of humanity.