My volunteering experience in “Outward Bound Sumartin”

When my friend Fernando asked me if I wanted to go with him on an Erasmus+ program, the first thing that came to my mind was: “Is my English good enough for doing that?” Because I hadn’t studied it since I finished high school and I was pretty sure that I would struggle a lot to understand people there. So I spent that whole day super scared, overthinking like a child “I’m not going to make any friend”. Luckily I took the plunge and spent probably some of the most amazing weeks of my 2019.

And why the hell am I telling you this? Well, I just want you to know that even though your English might suck a little bit, like mine, that can’t be an excuse for not doing an Erasmus+ program. You will meet people with amazing English and also a lot of people with a more basic level of English. However, it doesn’t matter, you will make a lot of friends and communicate with them without any problem. And if you don’t know how to say something, you can say it in other words or just point at it with your finger.

And now that the lame coaching part is finished, let’s talk about what my volunteering project consisted of. It was a two-week program in Croatia, in a tiny coastal village called Sumartin, on the southeast of the island of Brač. It’s a town with only 600 inhabitants which has one of the last shipyards in Europe that builds wooden boats, a really beautiful place.

We were sixteen short term volunteers (four from Croatia, four from Italy, four from Greece and another four from Spain) and the people who made the project possible, the amazing guys from Outward Bound Croatia. In addition to not letting us starve, they managed all the volunteering activities and taught us all the values that define their organization. They also made us consider Sumartin as a second home in a few days, by the way.

The main aim of the project, our duty, was to help Michael, an old US sea dog, in the shipyard of the village. He taught us a lot of useful stuff related to woodworking and the proper use of the tools. He also tried to show us the beauty of working with our hands and the possibility of getting a job beyond being in an office. And by the end, and by ourselves, we repaired two small boats, made some oars, built a shelf and a lot of sawhorses, painted the name of his organization (Maritima Educare) on a container…

Regarding free time, after our workday, we took our swimsuits and walked to the beach. Because in October in Croatia the weather is really nice, we could swim in the sea every day. Later at night, we had dinner all together and then we stayed for hours playing the guitar and singing, chatting and playing games.

In short, they were two very enriching weeks where I met a bunch of lovely people, improved my English, learned a lot from Michael and the villagers and tried to give something back by helping them in the shipyard or harvesting olives. I also had time to do sightseeing during our 4 days off and visiting Split and Dubrovnik.

So don’t hesitate any more and go on an Erasmus+ project.