End of the Project: Final Thoughts from the Eighth Edition Volunteers

Here we are, on the finishing line of our Project M.A.R.E. 2020. This year has been different, harder than the other project years due to the COVID-19, restrictions, lockdowns, stress from everything mentioned before… Despite all, we kept going and we managed to accomplish many things, to grow and to learn from each other, to become closer. This story of ours, unique at its core, how each of us from different parts of the world was brought together here, in Marina della Lobra, by a kind-hearted, passionate about marine life and its protection – Mimi, is something we will carry in our hearts. Thanks to his decision, he changed our lives forever. Now it is time to reflect, to say our last words in our project edition. Each of us volunteers had our own unique experience, and we thought it is best that each of us shares some of our thoughts and feelings in a few sentences. Here is what we have to say:

Petra | Croatia

 «I have spent my entire life studying terrestrial ecosystems such as forests and meadows, but I lacked an understanding of the marine environment. The project M.a.r.e has given me the opportunity to learn about marine organisms and the management of a protected area. I find this experience very useful because it allowed me to learn Italian and live in one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. I hope that inspired by this project, I will pass on my love for nature to my future students in Croatia.»

Arina | Latvia

 «This project has changed me for the better and gave me new life lessons that contributed to my personal growth, new friends and beautiful memories that I will carry in my heart for a lifetime. I fell in love with this country and the people in it, the stunning clear waters, the breathtaking landscapes, the mouthwatering dishes, the art, the language, and the heartwarming sunsets. I would like to stay here, by the sea, and continue to explore its inhabitants, minimise the pollution and spread awareness. I am beyond grateful I lived here, contributed to marine conservation, management, beach clean-ups and cultural exchange. I felt alive here.»

Kristians | Latvia

 «I still can’t believe the project is over. Somebody pinch me, please! I jumped into this adventure knowing two things for sure: 1) I want to help others and do my part to make the world a better place; 2) I want to find myself after feeling lost and stuck in life. And wow, it has been such an emotional roller coaster ride, a massive personal growth journey of self-discovery and development that I will cherish for a lifetime. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to be here, to use my knowledge and support a great cause in Italy, a country I have wanted to live in ever since I can remember myself, alongside so many incredible people, but I’m also proud of myself for everything that I’ve overcome to arrive in this exact moment and state of mind. Grazie per tutto!»

Raquel | Portugal

 «Wow!! Unbelievable!! Almost 9 months had passed since I arrived to M.A.R.E. Project. Looking back at this past year, these are the words that cross my mind: Covid-19 – End of a chapter in my life and beginning of another – Italy and Italian culture – Marine Adventures Respecting the Sea – Marine Conservation – Challenges – Respect for the others – Interesting acknowledgements about myself – Gratitude.

I can definitely say that this was one of the craziest years ever but, in the middle of the craziness, I can only say thanks to the MPA of Punta Campanella, to the coordinator of the project, to the mentors and to those that cooperated with us to make this project so special and unique!»

Akrem | Tunisia

 «You don’t know how much time flies by until you start counting. In Italy we experienced hot summer days, beautiful views, new mouthwatering foods, exquisite hikes, lockdowns and red zones, rainy cold days, cultural events and now we see the finish line. It’s a bittersweet feeling for a period that will be part of our whole life. It wasn’t perfect, but maybe because of that, it became so perfect. I will miss Italy and everyone in the project. Arrivederci carissimi!»

Gonzalo | Spain

 «We are already in the final stretch of the project and it is inevitable to think about it and make a personal and collective assessment of our work and also of our experience. In terms of work, I am very happy since I have learned a lot and discovered that in certain parts of the work I felt well and I did not think it was going to be like that, and personally it has been an incredible experience that has taught me so much and that has opened a lot of doors for me in the nearest future. I would define Project M.A.R.E. in one word: Discovery, discovery of places, people, nature and even yourself.»

Oussama | Tunisia

 «I was sure from the very beginning that it will be a memorable experience, all these different parts of the project that we have been through taught us many important things in both fields,  professional and daily life. Thank you project M.A.R.E. for giving such a great opportunity and good luck.»

We would like to wish a new project the best of luck and say thank you to everyone who supports us! We had the greatest time despite all the challenges that Covid Year brought. We did all we could. Grazie, grazie, grazie! Let’s continue our mission and contribute to a better future for our environment. See you somewhere in the World, ciao!