The quality of a project is defined by the people behind it. So it is for MYSEA, “Mediterranean Youth, NEETs and women advancing Skills, Employment, and Awareness in the blue and green economy”, a project funded by the EU under the ENI CBC MED 2014-2020 Programme.

A vast and diversified staff has joined their efforts for the development of the project during its first year. Not least, the 4 Interreg Volunteer Youths (IVY) volunteers who supported 3 out of the 6 partners of the project – respectively: University of Palermo (UNIPA, Italy), Tunisian Union of Social Solidarity (UTSS, Tunisia) and Development Information and Education Center (CIES ONLUS- Italy)

Interested to know their stories? Then, scroll down through this article!

Michele Virzì has a bachelor’s degree in Forests and Environmental Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Protection and Enhancement of Rural Areas. His academic background – which is strictly connected with the study of the waste management sector – and his mission to pursue a professional career in the research sector motivated him in becoming IVY for the Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Sciences of the University of Palermo, partner of MYSEA project.

Together with Giovanni Messina, fellow IVY at UNIPA, they helped researchers and project managers in mapping and enhancing the range of stakeholders of UNIPA (Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centers; private enterprises working in the agri-food and waste management sectors; unemployed and not in formal education women and youth) and to disseminate questionnaires and assess interviews with the aim to gather detailed data related to the labor and economic background for Italy. Finally, they helped in the analysis and systematization of the collected data for the production of detailed country reports, of use for the conclusion of the research part of the project.

Michele and Giovanni, who started their IVY experience in September 2020 – were happy with the UNIPA team, which gave them technical help in the division and realization of tasks, and with the multi-cultural consortia of the project, with which they communicated via monthly meetings and operational reunions.

It is on soft skills, indeed, which Davide Renda, IVY volunteer for the Tunisian partner of the project - the Tunisian Union of Social Solidarity (UTSS) – identifies a huge improvement thanks to his experience.

As a volunteer from June 2021, Davide perfectly integrated in the project and played a key role for UTSS giving his constant support to the project management in close collaboration with the staff: from research activities to mediation with third parties and external collaborators, supporting the elaboration of technical documents and the development of project activities. Davide has no doubts: his experience allowed him to grow enormously in terms of cultural, interpersonal, linguistic and technical skills, paving the way for his steady career development. “My main challenge was the interaction among all partners coming from different contexts, and the important role of mediation between CIES Onlus, italian partner and my host organization” – said Davide.

A similar satisfaction for his IVY experience is shared by Leonardo Galletti, former IVY volunteer for the Rome-based lead partner of MYSEA project, CIES ONLUS – we already spoke about him here a few months ago. “I was told about the IVY opportunity by a French friend of mine who previously joined an Interreg Alcotra project in Turin, and then found a good job in the field of policy analysis. Being interested in developing my skills of project management and giving my contribution to the development of a social project, I decided to apply for MYSEA; a few weeks later, CIES ONLUS welcomed me in his team and I have been quite lucky in finding professional teammates who perfectly introduced me to the project activities and tasks”.

As an IVY, Leonardo participated in the implementation of project activities and preparation of meetings and events; supported the management of technical documents. “The experience allowed me to grow rapidly in project management skills, which led CIES ONLUS offering me an extension of my cooperation up to late 2021 first, and a job contract for 2022, becoming an integral part of the CIES staff for MYSEA”, said Leonardo.

It is then clear that the IVY initiative is an opportunity worth exploring. If the article grasped your attention, here are some more useful tips:

"Interreg Volunteer Youth" (IVY) is an EU-funded action to offer the possibility to young people aged 18-30 to serve as volunteers in cross-border, transnational or interregional programs and related projects, enhancing their understanding of European territorial cooperation and gain valuable skills for their personal and professional development. IVYs can join projects and cooperate in their implementation (IVY Project Partners strand) or help disseminate information on the benefits of territorial integration on the ground (IVY Project Reporter strand). This initiative is part of the European Solidarity Corps, which means that volunteers will receive financial covering in support of their expenses, to allow them to participate widely. Skills, ambitions, and interests of applicants are matched with the right project and partner with the help of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) IVY staff and put into contact to start cooperating. Volunteers also receive the opportunity to share with fellow IVYs during monthly meetings organized by the AEBR, enlarging their network and receiving new information each time.