Your voluntary service is going to be what you make out of it!
When people ask me how it is to be a volunteer for one year, I always say that it depends on you. Basically it is a very difficult question. Why? Because every personal experience, has a different story. We are 11 volunteers and each of us has his own personal story, perception and experience. When I applied for this project I didn’t knew that: my flat is going to be my new home, the other volunteers are going to be my new family and the place of assignment is going to be my motivation. You will learn how to live independently, but also with other volunteers. And after meeting these, at first new and unfamiliar people, I felt like I've known some of them my whole life. This year is a chance to explore one country, one culture, but the most yourself.
What I like the most about my voluntary service in the kindergarten, i would say, is Peter. He has Down syndrome. But for me the most beautiful feeling every morning is when I see him and he is always happy to see me. It's hard to describe in words, how sometimes this feeling and energy brings me up when I am down or when it is not my day. But I have learned a lot. I learned from him that there should always be a reason to be thankful and happy. He enjoys music and singing or dancing with all other children, and what amazed me is that he is perfectly accepted in the group. The most beneficial activity in my opinion in the kindergarten is an exercise called “Morning circle”, where we all sit in a circle and sing songs, speak with the children or tell a story.
What I really like about this program is that you also have time to travel. You can always discover new places that you've never seen before. Some of them take your breath away; some of them give you more and more motivation to discover, to learn, to embrace. You never know what you'll find in each place, sometimes you will want to take something with you at home, maybe a picture filled with happiness or a wonderful moment.
What I found the most difficult in all I will honesty say the language barrier. And it's very important to always have patience. You will meet a lot of people that are not very open to speak to you in another language or understand that you can’t speak their language, especially in the first three or four months. I went through many misunderstandings because of this that brought me some bad consequences. In the beginning i understood almost everything but sometimes I was in situations where I still found it really difficult to respond. It's important to always keep trying to speak the language.
I think the best thing here is that you can be whatever you want and nobody really cares. The year is not going to be all rainbows and sunshine, but take that year just for yourself, because you always have a lot to learn and it really is an amazing opportunity. Be prepared to go through many ups and downs. After four months of this project I have really learned a lot of life lessons. First one is look into you. How much do we really look into ourselves? We will always bring with us our knowledge and personality but also our culture. Being here i started to change some of my behaviors and I began to take on a more ecological mindset.
It is really challenging to see your own personal accomplishment in only one year, but the good thing is that you can always leap through the things you didn’t like about yourself and take on the new ones that you have discovered. This year will open you horizons, your perspective and the way you see the world. So if you are a young enthusiastic person who wants to learn, to grow and to travel then i encourage you to be brave and apply, otherwise you will never know how your own personal story will be.