Valentina Vagge is from Genova, Italy. She arrived in Varna through the European Solidarity Corps last September, as a volunteer at the Public Environmental Center for Sustainable Development.

How are you Valentina?

– Given the pandemic, I’m doing pretty good.

– How is your family in Italy?

– Luckily my family and friends are fine.

– Would you like to be with them during this difficult time?

– Yes I would like to. But in Italy I live close to my grandparents. Given that this virus affects elderly the hardest it is better to keep the generational distance as much as possible. So I’m quite happy to live here alone, I think it’s the best thing I can do now.

– What is your opinion – why in Italy the coronavirus epidemic has grown so much and killed so many?

– Time will tell us. There are several factors that may have affected the current situation. In Italy young people live with their parents for a long time and grandparents are always close and in contact with grandchildren, precisely no generational distance. Then there’s our lifestyle, we go out a lot and  we are very sociable, we hug and kiss each other all the time. The average age of our population is also quite high compared to other European countries, the virus claims victims especially among the elderly so this may partly explain the high number of deaths.

– You arrived in Bulgaria in September. Then you said you chose Bulgaria because you love challenges. What was the biggest challenge you faced here?

– I can say that the main challenge has been the language. My only other life experience outside of my country has been in New Zealand and there they are English mother tongue. Here I had troubles in communicate because not everyone speaks English and because honestly I did not work hard enough to learn Bulgarian.

– If you go back 7 months now, would you choose to come to Bulgaria again?

– Yes I would! I’m having good time and I’ve meet great people in here.

– What did you learn here?

– I learned that cultural differences must be valued and respected. As they say, the world is beautiful because it is diverse. I also learned that conservationists who think and do the best for the future of the planet are many and everywhere.

– What would you advise the young Bulgarians at this moment?

– “Stay home!” Sacrificing social life for a few weeks or months is worth saving the lives of many people. And when the state of emergency is over, sign up for European Solidarity Corps projects. This is a wonderful experience that will enrich you humanly and professionally.