From Feeding Volunteers to Making a Living

Hungarian Ildikó Lászlóffy came to Finland to volunteer four years ago. Ildiko enjoys cooking and is nowadays almost a permanent sight in the kitchen team of Maailmanvaihto’s camps. Volunteering also gave her inspiration for her future’s profession. Read, what she tells about her experiences!

I am Ildi, Maailmanvaihto’s very own quirky Hungarian who also tends to cook in the camps and enjoys making inappropriate jokes. I came here four years ago as a volunteer. I worked in Luovilla, a textile workshop for people with learning disabilities or difficulties. After my volunteer year ended, I decided to stay in Finland and be active with Maailmanvaihto’s activities since I enjoyed them greatly and found them a good opportunity to get to know new people from all around the world.

‘‘This experience made me sure of what I want to do in life – learn, cook, widen my horizons and always help the “underdogs”, everywhere.’’

I have been part of Maailmanvaihto’s kitchen team in several camps and worked with different people from different countries. In these camps, I have learned that people are not that scary and socialising can actually be fun. But being more serious, these camps actually opened me up a lot. When I came here and went to my first camp I was thinking sarcasticly ”great, now I have to play games and talk, yay!” but after some days I had a conversation with myself. Am I going to try to have a nice time here and enjoy the activities or what? I’ve listened to my better self and thanks to that, I still consider my first camp as one of my dearest memories in my life. There was no question that I wanted to return and meet new friends, because every encounter would teach and develop me.

Without my volunteering background I don’t think I would nowadays be studying to become a cook. I have enjoyed cooking since my childhood but never seriously thought about bringing it to the next level. I have played with the idea of becoming a cook, but I thought it would be very hard physically and maybe it would kill out the passion of me if I had to do it professionally for long working days. I have a diploma in a very different field and it wasn’t easy to find work in that field, so I was really thinking about studying something a bit more practical.

Cooking in the camps is not equal to a job in a restaurant but it’s also quite a hard work – with a lot of extra fun. And I loved it. One day I had my enlightment – hey, why wouldn’t I actually try to apply for a cooking school? The camps had given me some ideas on what it is like to be a cook: it’s tiring but I love it. So I decided to give it a try and don’t regret it a bit.

Volunteering abroad can affect one’s life a lot. It’s such a cliché that the world opens up, but it’s true. I moved to a foreign country for the first time in my life. I met very different cultures and people for the first time in my life. I could never go back and be the person who I used to be living in her small world in her home city. This experience made me sure of what I want to do in life – learn, cook, widen my horizons, work with disabled people, improve myself and always help the ”underdogs”, everywhere.

If I would give some tip to people who are planning to volunteer in Finland or abroad, it would be ”Do it!”. It is going to be one of the biggest adventures in your life, for sure it was for me! It is not always easy but volunteering definitely changed my life and I consider it the best decision I have ever made. Be open and try out new things you never thought you would! For me, one of these things was going to a sauna naked – oh my – but I did it and survived it!

Text: Ildikó Lászlóffy, photos: Kaisa Rahko and Minna Räisänen

 

The article has been published in MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices 2/2017 magazine.

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