Every year we send two volunteers from Germany to Vladimir, Jena's Russian twin city. The volunteer service begins in September and lasts until the end of August of the following year. Our partner project is called Euroklub Wladimir and You can read more about the voluntary service here..
Here you can also read what our last volunteer Lou experienced there:
My name is Lou, I am 19 years old and come from Jena. I have been in Vladimir for six days now and will be working here for a year as a volunteer in the Euroklub. Just like Mathilda, I made contact through the Eurowerkstatt in Jena.
It's crazy that I'm in Russia now. I haven't realised it yet and I think it will take a while. At the moment, everything is new to me: the environment, the language, the currency, the food, the dormitory, the self-sufficiency. Hopefully in one or two weeks it will be more "real" for me, as will the fact that I will be living here for the next 10 months.
My first impression of Russia is only positive. I found the route from Vnukovo Airport, Moscow to Vladimir surprisingly good, of course also thanks to Google Maps. The connections in Moscow are good, the metro stations very impressive. Above all, everything is very clean, at least what I could see on the way from Moscow. There were almost no cigarette butts on the floor at the station, people throw their rubbish in the public rubbish bins. On the train to Vladimir, each passenger was assigned a carriage + seat number. I just wanted to sit down somewhere, but the people explained and helped me, even though they didn't speak English. What I also noticed right away was the warm smile of many Russians. They are a beautiful people, especially the women.
I like Vladimir very much, it is much more orderly and modern than I expected and also very green. Two girls from the Euroclub showed me around the city centre on Sunday, we went to two museums and to the Maria - Entschlafens - Cathedral, which was very impressive.
What is different in any case is that a woman on the bus sells tickets to everyone. And what is different (of course) is that I understand almost nothing and that bothers me. Fortunately, I had my first Russian lesson today with a teacher at the university, it was really fun!
Although I have been here for less than a week, it feels as if I arrived a long time ago. Every day new impressions affect me, and in the evening I fall into bed exhausted.
My visit to Schepelevo
This Saturday I went by bus to a village about 10 km from Vladimir - Schepelevo. There I visited a kindergarten. The little ones had prepared an autumnal programme. They started with a piano piece played by the 17-year-old daughter of the headmistress. In addition, pieces were played on the guitar, little girls sang, a boy danced and a teenager sang Russian folk songs. At the end, I was supposed to do a workshop with the children to show them something about German culture. I thought about different things beforehand, but in the end I decided to make paper kites. The children could hang them in their room or on the window. So I brought all the materials and made a kite myself as an example. They all joined in and enjoyed it, I think. They cut out the kite from coloured paper and drew faces on it with felt-tip pens. Some of them also stuck little bows on the sides. At the end, we attached ribbons to hang them up. The children then decided to hang up all the kites in the kindergarten. They then told me that in autumn they will make little dolls out of cloth and put them in the windows, but without faces.
It was interesting to see a Russian village and I really enjoyed working with the children and especially seeing their programme.