I’m back! Actually, this post should have been about how the donation system works. But since I really want to start talking about San Marcos and the children’s home, I will skip the donation post, and will directly fast forward to the preparatory seminar AND the last couple of weeks in Germany.
However, if you guys are really interested in how the donation system works and how I received my donations, let me know, and I will release a post about that later on, when I have a couple of more posts online.
The seminar took place from the 8th to the 19th of August, in Berlin. Honestly, at first, I really didn’t want to go because I was aware that I only had a few more weeks left in Germany. And in those last weeks, I wanted to spend some time with my friends, instead of going to some seminar.
Well, on the 8th of August at 10 o’clock, I arrived in Berlin Tegel, one of Berlin’s airports. Yes, you’ve heard right. I flew. I flew because costing 50 EUROS, it had been the cheapest option I had a week before the seminar. The additional price I now have to pay for, of which I hadn’t known earlier, is hearing how bad of a person I am, what a diabolic polluter I am, how bad national flights are, and so on. Every day, for five months now. Yes, Svenja, one of the three Germans I’m living with, feels quite strongly about environment. Well, she’s probably right.
Anyway, the seminar took place in a nice hostel, right in the center of Berlin. Near Checkpoint Charlie! Every kid in Hesse, who visits a public school, must take part in a Berlin trip, at least once. Since I hadn’t been going to a public school, that actually was my first trip to Berlin. And I can tell you, it’s a beautiful city!
So, in the seminar we were 20 volunteers. Every single one was supposed to go to Latin America. Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico. All of the others were really
nice, openminded, interested, cool people. I really don’t have the words for it!!! #bigbuddies
I had the feeling that Via.ev, our organization, unlike other organizations, doesn’t choose their volunteers, based on how much a person had already put into social work, in terms of engagement. I think Via.ev chooses their volunteers based on how interested they are considering going abroad and on some kind of engagement in general. Sports, music, art, whatever! Which is, why we were a really diverse and interesting and interested group. And which also, gave many of us the opportunity in the first place to go abroad! I mean really, to only give people the opportunity to do social work if they already have spent their entire lives doing social work?! Most of us were about 18 years old! Shouldn’t the goal be to get people involved into social work, who’ve never done anything like it before? Calm down, Noah, calm down!
Here you have the links to Stefan’s and Kimi’s Blog, two of the 19 volunteers, I spent most of my time with. Stefan is currently in Peru and Kimi in Colombia. Kimi’s Blog is even in English, since she spent one year abroad in the US. So, there you go American side of the family:
Besides being a cool group, we also had two really cool team leaders. Arne, a really funny guy, who, unfortunately, had to leave after seven or eight days, to visit a different seminar,and Joni a super interesting and educated man living a kind of Buddhist “lifestyle”. We talked about literally everything with him and I must say, I think I’ve never met such an interesting person before!
At the seminar, we dealt with the following topics for example:
Motivations, expectations and realities; expectations of the people around us; visiting the BMZ, which finances most of our projects; how to handle different cultures; globalization and the questionable role the West plays in it; fair journalism; how to work with children/disabled people; challenges and dangers abroad; we and planet earth, talking about the environment (big interest in the group!); and last but not least evaluation and good bye time!
We talked about all of this and much more, using movies, games and really deep group discussions! It’s incredible how much we’ve learned in those 12 days!!!
In our spare time we either got the sleep we didn’t get in the night before, walked around Berlin, played games or watched the Olympics!
When the seminar came to an end, everybody was quite sad. In total, there are three seminars. Two in Germany, before and after the time abroad and one seminar during the time abroad. Normally, the same people who visited the preparatory seminar won’t be able to go to the same reviewing seminar, after the time abroad. But since we wanted to see each other again so badly, we bombarded Stefanie, the woman who’s responsible for the Latin American projects, with e-mails, stating our concerns. And well, it worked and we will all meet each other again in September 2017.
I think that despite of everything I can tell you about the seminar, nobody will really be able to understand, how awesome that seminar was and what an impact it had on all of us. I’ve noticed that, when I told my friends about the seminar, at home. Here are two links, to two youtube videos, we watched, when talking about the environment, to give you a bit more insight. Go watch those videos, and imagine a group of 22 people talking about these topics for hours and you might just understand a little better, how mind blowing the experience was.
Last couple of Weeks in Germany (written in September 2016)
By now, quite a few weeks have passed since the meeting with the other volunteers. But every day there was something I had to get out of the way. For example visiting the doctor, the dentist, buying all kinds of things at the local drugstore, planning my going away party, packing all of my clothes, etc.. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been that
productive in my life before. Not even with my finals at school. I wish, I would have started earlier because the last week especially had been really exhausting. Unfortunately, even the weather decided to work against me, turning a sad summer into a really warm and happy one, which made it quite difficult to run around town, sweating like a pig, instead of relaxing at some pool in Darmstadt. Other than that, many of my friends suddenly wanted to see me every possible hour.
Until the flight I had had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was really happy that finally my trip would start. And I really had the feeling that the time had come. School was over, the last of many graduation parties had finished, I had celebrated my 18th birthday, I’d had enough time to say goodbye to most of my friends, and I’d had enough time to buy the things I needed, as well as more or less prepare myself mentally for what was coming up. But I will talk more about that later. I just wanted to leave, wanted to see new things, wanted to continue “growing”. Even though I enjoyed the last months without school, I started to miss “learning things”.
On the other hand, I really wished, I would have had more time at home. More time for family, and friends, more time to create a blog before everything started (cough cough), more time for hobbies because I think that after this year, I will start to study pretty quickly. Who knows, when I’ll have that much spare time in the future again?
Back to my mentality for a second. Through the big meeting with the other volunteers in Berlin, I guess I had been kind of prepared for Argentina. But the last weeks were so full of plans, I mean I for example literally packed my suitcase the same minute I left our house for the last time in a year, that I never had enough time to really think about what was going to happen. What it really means to be gone for a year, that I might come back as a different person, like many say, who have spent a year abroad, etc.. It kind of feels like somebody suddenly threw me in a pot of freezing water, leaving me, not being prepared for anything. Maybe not even that bad. At least it did not give me the chance to overthink anything.
Well, that’s it for today!
Just to give you a quick update how life is currently in San Marcos Sierras:
Well, we’re back from the second seminar in Chile, which was pretty cool. It’s obviously still summer, here in San Marcos. Which means that it’s really hot everyday but also incredibly green, since it’s raining about once a week for a few hours. This week the “fiesta de la miel”, the honey festival, is taking place here, which is more or less the last big event before the “temporada” of tourism ends in San Marcos. So, in a few weeks the streets of the little village will be empty again, until next summer! Apart from that, February will be all about working, working and working until March, when Leon and I will go to Patagonia (Bariloche and Los Glaciares) and hike a bit! Also, I might start thinking some more about what I’m going to study in Germany, in the next weeks!
Next time I will talk about the flight and the first impressions of Argentina, so stay tuned!!!