My year as a volunteer
I arrived in Jena on the 2nd of September, at the bus station. Just a minute after I found a ginger girl asking me if I was Silvia and a group of former volunteers. I was nervous but they made me feel at home. Some minutes later Monny arrived, I was no longer alone. We went to our new house, they show us around and they left us there, in our new home.
I remember the first month full of experiences; new volunteers arrived, and we started discovering the city with/through tours, German lessons and visiting the different projects.
And the October came, so I started working in my project. A new intercultural kindergarten in the middle of the city. I found there a new team, my new colleagues. I have to say that, at the beginning it was difficult for me, I could not speak good German and I felt insecure. But one of them, Lisa, helped me a lot.
My routine was about coming to the kindergarten between 8-10 in the morning until 14-16 in the afternoon. I worked with children from 3 till 7 years old. In the Kita they have a “freedom” concept, so the children can do what they want, with some limitations. So, I played with them: reading books, building toys, playing with Lego, wearing costumes, handcrafting, cooking and backing, playing outside in the garden or going on excursions. After this we ate in two groups, they can do everything alone, take their own cutlery and choose how much they want to eat. And then they go to sleep, that is when we have a little break, but usually some of them do not sleep. During this time, I used to clean or help the “kitchen fairy”. When they wake up, around 14, we eat together “Vesper” or a little snack and they can go to play until they parent come to pick them up. And then is when I leave.
Living in Jena was surprisingly good. It is a small town so I can walk everywhere, but still there is a lot to do. If you get tired of the city you can always go to the mountains and do some hiking, get lost, the landscapes are beautiful. Or go to lake when the weather is nice.
Considering everything, the best thing in Jena, in my opinion, is the people I met here. We, the 11 volunteers, are living in different flats in a big house where the doors are always open. This year, 2020, I was “lucky” enough to live a quarantine here, sharing 24/7 with these people, and we found a family. We spent it all together in the garden, cooking, making parties, painting, working in the garden, going for small walks, doing yoga, reading…
To sum up this year I can say that it was all about learning and inner growth. I learnt not only a new language, German, but a lot of useful words in other like Italian or Turkish. I learnt a new job, how a kindergarten works and how to treat and teach children. I learnt a lot about daily life: sharing a flat with people I do not know, cooking healthy, save money and manage to make it through the month… And most important thing, I learnt about myself, I set some objectives and I got to know my limits. Definitely, I would start all over again