Hello, I am Francesco, an Italian guy, and I wanted to talk about the amazing experience of volunteering here in Thessaloniki for the 10th Pride.
Starting from the beginning, I didn’t know this would be the most beautiful experience in my life, nor that I’d have the opportunity to grow immensely and go out of my comfort zone many times.
This project was short-term, so I had to stay here only for two months. I arrived in Thessaloniki on the first days of June, at the beginning of Pride Month. This was my first time volunteering for Pride and, most important thing, my first time volunteering abroad.
The week before Pride Week (from 20th to 25th June), we had meetings with my team to plan the whole week and organise all the things that we could need during the week (buckets, colours, flags, etc.). So, we divided into groups. In this way, there were different volunteers in all the activities every day to coordinate them and set up the place.
There were a lot of activities every day, from the ‘serious’ things (such as discussions of the challenges of teachers in the school environment and sex education in the Greek schools) to the ‘fun’ things like games (Dungeons and Drag), film screening and drag shows.
The most challenging part of my experience was that it was all in Greek, so, for me, it was really hard to even try to understand what they were saying, but all the volunteers strove to include me and let me understand what was going on.
My favourite day during the week was, of course, the day of the Parade. In the morning, we had so many activities, and I was in the Snake-and-ladders game, which was a traditional snake and ladders game but with questions regarding HIV. I appreciated that part of the day, but I felt a little bit useless because there were only people speaking Greek, so it was somewhat difficult helping the other volunteer to let people play that game. Then I went to help other volunteers with body painting, and I enjoyed it so much!
Later, on the same day, there was the Parade, and I had the opportunity to carry the flag with many other people; I appreciated that moment so much. It was hard work, but it was so much worth it.
It truly was an amazing experience I recommend to all of you; I enjoyed it so much that I would love to have the opportunity to do it again.
Text: Francesco Gennaretti