Alvaro in Bremen // 2nd Report

As I enter the final part of my volunteer experience, my feelings are very different from the beginning. The overwhelming sensation of seeing the end of the road grows bigger every moment, and the uncertainty of what to do afterward—whether I’ll have the opportunity to stay in this country, and if this entire experience will have been worth something when I return to job searching—looms large.

I recommend this type of experience to everyone. There hasn’t been anything that hasn’t helped me grow as a person, but it hasn’t been a walk in the park, and it’s not something for everyone. The least pleasant part of my experience has been sharing a flat with immature, selfish, and egocentric people. I’ve had to turn the other cheek on numerous occasions and sacrifice my rights to avoid conflict.

Not speaking the local language has been a significant problem for me. There have been many times when I felt displaced, ignored, and underestimated simply because of this. And being a “volunteer” hasn’t helped in being taken seriously or in understanding my situation. We are expected to work at the same level of responsibility and workload as an employee of the host organization, and it shouldn’t be this way.

In summary, the overall experience has been positive. Even though I will have to return home after my volunteer stint, I won’t feel like I’ve wasted a year. I am sure this has helped me improve, step out of my comfort zone, become less introverted, and better value my time and how I use it.

If I had to give advice to the Álvaro of the past, it would be to look for a project in an English-speaking country, ensure 100% that the role he will develop meets his expectations, and assert his rights from the beginning.

Alvaro is hosted by Kultur vor Ort e.V. on our project co-funded by the European Union.