Tania Serna


EVS Volunteer in México


The truth I do not know where to start writing these lines, the truth is so many lived experiences, so many felt emotions, that I think there is not enough lexicon that allows me to capture even half of the experience. But I’ll try, do not worry.

The truth is that the feeling of returning to Europe has not been comforting at all, I found something sad because of the farewell of the young people, the people, the project … and I felt something strange when I returned to my country, something that turned out to be quite strange and disconcerting. A stranger in her own country … How can it be, you will ask, because I do not even know it yet. Maybe I was so much in the way of the customs and way of life of the Mexican village where I have lived for 6 months when, due to inertia, I returned to a feint to act or speak as we did there.

But we are going to give more importance to the experience and to everything lived in the EVS my. The first word that comes to mind when thinking about experience is GRATITUDE, I feel enormously grateful to the Mundus association and the people who work in it, to my fellow volunteers, to the association that received us there and to the young people and people who helped us and supported us there, teaching us, one of the most valuable things that have their nature and culture. Everything has been like pieces of a puzzle, if I had missed any of these pieces, the experience would not have been possible, nor would it have been incredible for me.

I have learned so many things in this time … It could be said that it has been the 6 months that have spread the most in terms of life experience and personal learning of my whole life.

I have learned about the general and local Mexican customs, the gastronomy, their way of life (much humbler than ours), I have learned from other countries for the other volunteers and I have even learned things from my own country, something that may seem like something strange, be outside and learn from your country, yes yes. I have learned about the language, our customs, history … the truth is that having to explain there when they asked us about our Countries, you have to stop and think about things that live here go unnoticed, like for example, why do not we use a lot of corn? in our diet if we also harvest it? Because in the postwar period much more was used than now and it came out cheaper than wheat (white bread was very expensive and expensive) or the difficulty of explaining certain expressions that we say in other words, because it is not used there, or the amount of Sometimes we say the word “catch”, it will seem silly, but I had not been aware of everything we used that verb until I got there, which as you can imagine gives a double (sexual) sense. So imagine the lot of situations in which I messed up, I have very funny anecdotes with this topic too … hehehe

I am also happy with what we have achieved there with the project, it was the first time something like this was done there and it has caused a lot of impact, I do not know if on a material or physical level, but on a mental, emotional level in the people we met Several young people have gained in illusion, personal resources, they have raised things that had not been raised until the moment we arrived.

From my point of view, some people who have to deal with so much at the end of the day … until they collect wood every day to be able to warm up before it rains in the afternoon and everything gets wet, they give you their time, their confidence, Teach, offer what they have and open the doors of your home so you can taste your food, it is a true PRIVILEGE.
The truth is that as I say I have learned a lot of everything and everyone, I have tried to enjoy and squeeze every moment that I have been there. But I have to say that if someone has also learned a lot, has been of my own, I have lived and been in situations that normal in Spain are not given and I have seen my way of reacting, of processing … I have surprised myself In several moments, I have overcome what I thought were my beliefs or my way of being, and were prejudices and limitations towards myself.

I have also realized that I can live with much less than what I lived here in Spain (I refer to material things, of course), I have valued many other material things (light, internet, heating at the maximum distance of a button) that here they are like invisible, imperceptible, until we are missing … And I have valued almost other things not so material that in our day to day they have lost their place (at least in the cities and large towns) due to lack of time, desire or progress social … such as homemade meals with homemade ingredients (such as ranch eggs), own resources and companionship (when a breakdown in the car or the arrival of the doctor for an emergency is not solved with a simple call to insurance or the ambulance …) , when education and greeting take precedence over many things, savor a few hours so comfortable that you have seemed seconds and you have forgotten time because nothing happens, because you are living in the present. I have also valued the luck we have in Spain not to live excessive natural disasters, here we live very calm in that sense and there for Terromoto, Hurricane or what I know what else, you can go to the Garete almost in a blink.

I could continue writing a few seconds, minutes and even more hours of my EVS, but I would not want to bore you, hehehe. What I can tell you is that if you have an adventurous soul, you want to contribute and that they bring you, to learn and visit other cultures, do not think about it! Sign up and MAKE YOUR EVS! I DO NOT CHANGE IT FOR ANYTHING OF THE WORLD!


November 2017

We are already in the final stretch, in the countdown, in the last days of the experience and the feeling is very strange it is as if I was leaving part of my life and even my home here.

And how could it be otherwise, this last month has been very intense, both emotionally and to what the project is concerned … We have had last-minute obstacles in the continuity of the project, misunderstandings, false rumors that do not benefit us and stories policies that want to intervene or have to do with the positive achieved of the project.

Actually I am very happy to have started to develop activities in the house of culture / young space that we have built. Students from Cecyt are coming, to make use of the space to carry out large-scale work (for example with murals …), young people also come to train Breakdance, and another young man who is teaching Karate to other peers.

We have several other activities and workshops, planned for a near future, such as: workshops to carve wood drawings with a Pirograph; school support in mathematics, history and geography; regional dances and other styles in choreography; crafts and recycling; computing; music … It is fortunate and proud to have among the group of young specialists both self-taught and graduate and engineers in several of the subjects previously mentioned. And especially, it is very positive that they are willing voluntarily to invest part of their free time in teaching others their passion and specialty.

Another thing that I find very useful, interesting and necessary, are the workshops that are also thought for the house of culture to young people, in topics that are still part of the taboos that our grandparents dragged, with respect to the sexual information, alcohol, drugs … To help in the knowledge of these issues among young people, and to prevent something more problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies that are in this municipality so to order of the day.

Already in these last days we will try, organize and seek support and more commitments to ensure the continuity of the project in the Municipality of “El Porvenir”.

In the photo that I enclose you, some of the young people that make up the group of the House of Culture appear, with the Jaguar symbol that represents the young space.

October 2017

This month has been very complete in terms of experiences. The truth is that we have made some progress with respect to the project, but we have had to move a lot of things and talk to many important people in the municipality. Even in some moments we have felt we were saying with Valentina (my partner) as Sherlock Holmes, since it has been difficult to find and achieve many things to be able to advance in the project that we started here. We seemed on many occasions as investigators of the CIA at least (heh, heh, heh), but also had its point of excitement and satisfaction when we found answers. The issue is that here there are still several taboos on many issues and there are no real rights or papers to guarantee, or to guarantee the locals to continue to maintain some support when we (The Europeans) leave, and we wanted to make sure of all that.

This month we have also had the privilege and pride of participating in a local event, which celebrated the inauguration of a new foundation and at the invitation of them and with the help of the young people who are in the project we have attended and publicly disseminated the reactivation of the House of Culture of El Porvenir. It has been a very nice experience, since the girls taught us a regional dance from Chiapas and together with two other girls of the group, we presented a “dance” as they call it here, with traditional costumes and hairstyle. Something that we value and appreciate a lot because it is something that you can only live if you are local, you have moved to live in another place or doing (as it is our case) an EVS.  We have also made a very special outing, living something typical and traditional of Mexico and in particular of the place we visited. We went to spend three days in Oaxaca to celebrate, meet and experience first hand the Day of the Dead that is celebrated so much. We had contact with locals from that state and they explained traditions, customs and gastronomy of the place and those dates. The truth is we are happy to go all the volunteers together to live another of the treasures of a specific place, its culture and tradition.

Finally, as I mentioned in the previous report, I have already started with my personal project more in depth and since my profession and passion is psychology, I am proud to be able to contribute a small grain of sand in a place where psychological support It is so necessary, but unfortunately it is conspicuous by its absence, something that on the other hand saddens me a little. As I always say I will stay with the positive and is that the time that I remain here will provide what I can so that someone from the place can feel a little better, something that also makes me feel better, seeing all the problems and difficulties that they have here.

September 2017

Another month has passed and time is starting to fly, the truth is that I realize now how hard everything was at first here and even then we did not take too long to adapt to the place with the rest of the volunteers. We see each other more or less habitually and we do things together and that is also important for me, we have visited beautiful places and we take advantage of weekends to travel and get to know the surroundings of our municipalities. We tell each other about our experiences during the week and we give ourselves ideas and encouragement to continue with the project.

The truth that many things here are wonderful, many people that we have and continue to know, nature every time, we introduce ourselves more into the culture and customs of the locals. But there are also things that are very, very different from our Countries and cities where we live. Especially with Valentina we noticed a lot of the search for resources, both economic and material to advance the project, including the difficulty of finding certain basic foods that are only one day a week in the market of the square.

Among some of the differences we most notice besides finding certain things that in any European city are within walking distance of two streets at most, are the times. Here the times to do and play things are very different to what we were used to and although we thought it would be only at the beginning, until the project was more filmed, nothing is further from reality, in the fourth month it still happens. Sometimes we have despaired a little, because for us everything would go faster, but here it is not like that and even less when it comes to young people, that in most of the occasions as they manifest they have neither voice nor vote in the Municipality nor in the initiatives that can be carried out. However, reflecting with my colleague Valentina, we have already spoken that is part of the adaptation and learning to place, we can provide ideas, our desire and the European essence to move forward and undertake, but always respecting their customs, find a middle ground that allows us all to “work” at ease. This month has been an experience to be able to be on September 15 in a Mexican municipality in the Independence Cry, and more of the way we live it. They invited us to the balcony of the presidency (of the town hall) to live in the first person and as guests to their party and their Mexican customs. The truth was very emotional to live that moment and enjoy that without historical grudges (as it could have happened) we enjoyed the event together.

On the other hand, I am very happy also because I am going to start more fully my personal project in a school here in El Porvenir, psychologically supporting the students, and I will continue telling you…

August 2017

And we arrived at the “Ecuador” of the EVS, which is fast happening now, is starting to fly…

Speaking of flights, this month we have experienced something very strong, at least it seems to me, and it is the earthquake in Mexico that everyone heard, nothing more and nothing less than 8.2 on the Richter scale. The truth that caught us by surprise and there I realized that I did not know how to react to this type of natural phenomena. This can be said that it was my first earthquake (here called “Temblorcito”, I guess to take iron as we say in Spain and not sound so catastrophe). Previous days there had been, there yes, a tremor that almost did not notice and even seemed to make some people funny, since they asked: Did you notice the “tremor” of this morning J? In the same way the first real tremor was 3 days after landing in Mexico, but I identified it more as a joke of my companions moving the bed, that as a tremor of earth … Sign of the little capacity of identification that I have of these phenomena having lived none, my mind does not register in the first instance that this is what happens. However, the tremor of September 7, if I sensed it, identified it and registered it very quickly, since it was something shocking, my first reaction was to stop at the cabin where we lived with my partner, waiting for it to happen as it had gone with the previous ones. But it was not like that, just as it was more powerful, it was also longer. It is amazing the perception of time in those moments, it seemed that someone was moving the earth as if it were dolls and also had stopped the time, that was how 40 seconds and seconds that lasted in total (or so we believe from the mountains), They were done like 10 minutes. At the point of hesitating at the moment if I had stopped and it was my legs that were shaking I asked my partner (once we had left the cabin … luckily my partner is Italian and in their region the tremors are more habitual ones in mine and knew how to act better than me).

After telling how events happened I have to admit that, to be my first seismic experience, I did not get too scared. I was more disoriented, expectant also to what was happening and after passing everything and see that we had not suffered great damage in the vicinity and be out of danger, even partly excited to have lived something like this.

The most “funny” thing was that when everything happened and knowing that all of our friends, acquaintances and colleagues were fine, I breathed easy and that was when my surprise came when the people from here told me that they were still scared because they were “waiting” “The replica of that earthquake and there was news of the arrival by two fronts of hurricanes, even possible Tsunami on the coast. There if I could not believe that all this would happen, if the tremor was enough, later we also learned that in other places closer to the epicenter if they had suffered damage and I started to feel very helpless to not be able to do anything to stop what is happening in other regions …

This story does not end with a happy ending, but with a little reflection. We have heard it many times, but it is different to listen to it, to read it to feel it … There are many times in life that we feel miserable or frustrated in situations that it is very often in our hands to change. In Spain there are natural phenomena, but not as usual, as aggressive and as widespread as for example in Mexico and we always see (as in this case I saw my family and friends) from TV, as if part of one of the movies that we see on Sunday afternoons. But it is certainly very distressing to see the panic, the uncertainty, the helplessness, the concern of the locals for their homes, their families and their physical integrity, “a little” more serious than not having been able to get the last I market … No it was when I myself felt the trembling in my own flesh, if not by seeing those emotions that I commented among my companions and now friends, when I felt the true fear.

July 2017

We have already completed two months of project and stay in Mexico, it seems that we are here for months …

Little by little we have been adapting, especially to the climate, it seems incredible that we are in Mexico, we commented with the Italian compañera who shares the days with me. Anyone who talks to you about the first thing that comes to mind in Mexico is: “What a good climate, what warmth, summer …”. Well, Mexico has Sierra, we know it, but not that it was so cold, rainy, humid, had not lived such a climate ever, and I was surprised. In the day to day here you have to manage a good “Coats, Blankets”, a raincoat, warm clothes, fire in the fireplace every day and drinks very warm so that the days are more pleasant.

This month, the coordinator of Spain, Alberto, visited us and we made revisions, meetings and sharing of the project. Especially with respect to objectives, expectations and needs that we had observed during these two months. His arrival was very important, since he encouraged us to improve our work, we made the project more concrete and we talked about concrete actions that could benefit the place and enrich our experience here.The children and young people we are dealing with here are charming, we are really learning a lot from them and they are very interested in knowing us more and knowing more about our culture. I was very surprised that despite being here for two months they are still surprised by our physical appearance. In general, in the town of Valentina (my partner) and they watch us quite a lot, they ask us for pictures and they stop us in the street, we are “Las güeritas” (white people) of the town. Speaking of my partner, I have to say that I feel very good with her, in so little time we have talked a lot, we have been able to combine very well and she is advancing with Spanish very much. It is also serving me to do a double cultural exchange, in addition to Mexico, with Italy, since I had not had the opportunity to live so long and so intensely with an Italian and I have not had the pleasure of visiting that beautiful country (pending trip as soon as I return to Europe).We have done some sightseeing and visited places like San Cristobal, the lakes of Colon, and fantastic places of Chiapas. I am certainly falling in love with the nature of the place, they have lots of green areas, charming spots, “cenotes” and beautiful views from several hills.

As I say, it is already the second month that we are here and we will try to continue making the most of the time, knowing places and people, learning and transmitting everything we can. Here I attach a couple of photos of time of visit and with some children and young people of El Porvenir.

June 2017


Film based on real events.

Set in Mexico, mostly in the Sierra de Chiapas.
With Valentina Vípera y Tania Serna. Con la colaboración de Ruth Palacios y Alexandra Dumitru.

Given his criticism of appearing on the big screen, described as << Curious and extravagant >> and as << Interesting and Adventurous >>, is still debating what kind of cinematographic genre belongs, since this film offers a great pulse Of action, intrigue, comic, historical and even some stroke of terror.

The plot was considered a challenge, as was the course of the characters’ lives.

Synopsis: If there is something that proves the day-to-day of the Gringas del Porvenir, as they call them in their adoptive town, that is the emotion and the throbbing feeling that something is going to happen at any moment.

The film begins with a plane landing in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. 4 volunteers, a trip to their official presentation already full of setbacks (a trailer crossed in the road, men with machetes coming out of the forest, children and sheep crossing in the middle of what looked like “nothingness”) that without them knowing would be a precedent for What awaits them in the next 6 months of their lives.
One of the protagonists will discover many surprises such as: Despite sharing language, the same meanings or codes are not shared with the Mexican people on many occasions. You will feel at ease between Mexican and Italian culture, surprising yourself with the similarities and differences of the people of 3 and 4 different countries. Daily setbacks, impressive sightseeing, public presentations, meeting the young people involved in the project. Much attachment, trust and gratitude towards the other volunteer considered not only as a companion but friend are some of the things that make this film start unique.

Of the many things that she learns and tries to contribute during the first month, Tania, one of the volunteers, has to say that for her, she begins a new personal adventure when she is moved by the kindness and generosity of the people who receive her. In less than a month they were invited to a baptism, to more than 5 different houses to eat, to celebrate and to know their customs and gastronomy. They helped them as much as they could, and they organized and celebrated the birthday of one of the volunteers as if it were one of them, making her feel almost more special than at home.

After this entry, you can not miss the continuation and details of this exciting and popular film that has just been released in the best cinemas.