When I was 17 years old, I finished a Spanish course, my grandmother called me with a proposal. She said she had read in a newspaper that they are looking for volunteers in Spain for a youth event with the Pope. I wanted to practice my Spanish so I thought that such an event with the Pope would be convenient and interesting. I signed up as a volunteer because that was the only option I saw, I didn't know the meaning of WYD, going to my first Journey in Madrid, I didn't know there was any option to be a pilgrim.
I arrived in Madrid and I fell in love with the atmosphere brought by young people from all over the world (Greetings to all volunteers who lived in IFEMA :p) I fell in love with the union between all, the super positive energy! I remember when I looked (from the roof of a building) at all these young people who came to Cuatro Vientos airport to meet the Pope, 2-3 million people, I felt proud that I could put my grain of sand in that as a volunteer. I had no doubts about volunteering in Rio and Krakow. I was touched by different activities, among them; registration of pilgrims, information points, securing the way for the Pope, chauffeur of the bishops? In everything I do as a volunteer, I can make another person happy - and that charges my energy.
In Rio I learned that there is long-term volunteering, I looked to those volunteers as an authority. At that time I would never believe that one day I could be one of them. I was always a short-stay volunteer, and because of the beauty of the Journey in my life, I wanted to offer more and be a long-stay volunteer. When they announced the Journey in Panama, I decided to try.
In Poland many wanted to be long-stay volunteers, there were more than 100 people and the Committee could send only 2 to Panama. The process had 4 stages, not even my parents believed they could choose me.
When I finally received the positive response I was jumping in the chair of joy. In the end one thing was missing - to pay for the flight, with that I received a lot of support from my parish in Bydgoszcz. I informed my whole family during Christmas, saying that the next one I am not going to spend with them. My parents were worried about my studies, I had to stop them for a year, and quit my job.
I have been serving in Panama since March 2018 and ALL WORTH THE PENALTY! I am glad to be part of the Journey again. I look forward to seeing you all in Panama!
Justyna Urbanowska, Poland