My year in Park Istra

One year ago I’ve made a crazy decision to move to another country. Since I am Portuguese, the country I choose to spend a year in, was of course Slovenia. When applying, I already knew a little bit of the country and I had a feeling I would feel at home somehow and the truth is that with time, I actually did.

Park Istra welcomed me as a long-term volunteer and just as me, we all grew up together with this experience, we all learnt a lot and we all have the best memories to remember later and smile about it.

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This year gave me the opportunity to work on myself and especially to get to know myself. We worked in a lot of different fields, some interested me more than others, and some fulfilled me more than others. But the people I met along this journey, people I worked with, people I lived with, people that opened the doors of their houses to me, people that now I consider family were the most special and warm memory I’ll take in my heart to Portugal.


Being part of a community is a big challenge, can be stressful and sometimes exhausting. But as everything in life, nothing that is worth it, comes that easy. It takes, time, effort and patience and it has an amazing outcome. Having people from all over the world, working as a team in the field, in cleaning actions, in renovation… It’s fun, it’s dynamic and you feel like you are making a difference to the community and help those in need.


During this year I was also working on a personal project about sustainable tourism and the project had as a main goal to impact positively the local community and help them to develop their villages. The project had as target all the local communities that could take some income from it, but especially the people that are willing to do something. Presenting it to them, to people I know and appreciate so much, was one of the biggest pleasures of this experience. The positive feedback, the support and the love was an amazing feeling and now I’m even surer that all the difficulties, the challenges, the good and bad days were worth it, because I know I made a difference, even if small, the feeling of gratitude is huge.

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Now, it has been almost a year and knowing that I’m leaving in less than a month, scares me a lot. And it scares me because this country, experience and people I met along the way, gave me such a positive experience that I don’t want to leave. Of course, coming back to my country and meeting my friends and family is a very good feeling, but also feeling I built a family and such strong connections abroad, makes me think that we don’t belong to only one place and that all the love we take and give from the people that touch us is maybe one of the biggest treasures that life has to offer to us.

Beatriz Lourenço – EVS Volunteer Portugal