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It’s time to be back home! Thanks for a great year, by Chiara

Over this year, in the Pakt club (Parents and kids together), we have introduced a very good practice at the end of each club. It consists in saying, writing or drawing a few words about things they were grateful for that had occurred not only during the club, but also during the whole day. We usually help kids with some questions like: who or what inspired you today? Of what you are proud today? Anybody said something nice to you that makes you smile and cheer you up? This practice became immediately an habit, the kids loved it! They enjoyed it so much, it seemed they really needed a few minutes just for themselves to reflect upon the day, their feelings, thoughts, behaviors and the people around them. Gratitude is a way for children to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new or complaining. What’s more, positive psychology and many researchers, show how expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships, improves psychological health, self-esteem and increases mental strength.
As a result, I also enjoyed this practice so much over the year, that eventually I decided to introduce it into my private life. Therefore, I’m practicing gratitude with one of my closest friend, so every night before going to sleep we send to each other a thankful-text in which we write one short sentence summarizing for what or who we are grateful today. Gratitude attitude helps me refocus on what I have instead of what I lack. Practicing an attitude of gratitude on regular basis is a simple way to feel better. Gratitude helps us realize what we have and decrease our need for wanting more all the time.

For all these reasons I want to say thank you to all the people who contribute to make this year so special. I’m very grateful to have spent a European Voluntary here in Dublin with the YMCA. Thanks to all the YMCA’s staff, you made me feel at home, helping me to overcoming the homesickness. A special thanks to West Dublin where my project was based, thanks to Norma, Brian and to my mentor Elaine who has been my personal and formative guide during all my EVS’s year. A really big thanks to Jen who has thought me a lot of Irish slang that I could never learn from any English books and has gave me a lot a good advice on how to deal with Irish weather: an umbrella in one hand and sun cream on the other hand! 😉 Thanks to Kathryn who helped me in the halfway to tackle difficulties when I was about to quit the project. A very special thanks to my temporary Spanish family: Eva, Sonia and Roberto who have shared with me this memorable experience, sharing travels, adventures, fears, joys, challenges and daily life difficulties. I can tell, beyond doubt, that without you all this year wouldn’t have been so amazing. Thanks to all people I encountered during this year and that I can’t mention all here.
It’s time to come back home, back to my comfort zone but with different eyes and different attitude, because I’m not any more the person I used to be, even thought my motto is still the same: “life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” (Albert Einstein).